Although we’re not conscious of it at the time, our brains are just as active during the night as they are during the day and research is just beginning to get to grips with what’s happening.
There’s various phases of sleep : REM (Rapid Eye Movement), Slow Wave (or Deep), during which our brains are particularly active at different tasks such as consolidating factual memories (Slow Wave) or processing that we’ve experienced during the day (REM sleep).
Therefore this means that not allowing our brains enough time to do these very important tasks is going to impact us negatively. There’s already solid research showing that a study group who stayed up all night cramming for exams and were under slept, performed significantly worse versus those who got sufficient sleep and allowed their brains to consolidate the factual memories of the day.
So with this in mind, how to get better sleep? Here’s some essential tips:
Avoid blue light
Television, Phone and Computer screens are big emitters of blue light, which inhibit the production of Melatonin, the hormone which is released when it gets dark in the evening to make you feel sleepy. Blue light tricks the mind into making it feel awake, greatly impacting your ability to get to sleep and moreover, sleep soundly.
To be honest, as long as you’re not sitting two feet from your TV, like a three year old watching cartoons, you’ll probably be okay with the light emitted from that. But phones and laptops are different, due to their close proximity to the eyes. Now that it’s so ingrained in us these days, to have our phone on us at all times, you might be thinking how exactly are you going to give it up – you may have emails to check etc . Well, abstinence is best, but if you can’t do without – use a Blue light filter app, which removes the Blue spectrum from your screen, giving it a yellowish tinge.
They’re easily found for your phone in Google Play or iTunes respectively, and for your PC, the one to get is a free program called F.lux .
You’ll soon adapt to the new look of the screen at night, and if you even switch off the app for a second to see what you used to to, you’ll wonder how you ever exposed your eyes to such an awakening light.
Out of all the sleep ‘hacks’ out there, this is the one to follow.
Blackout your room
Simple and effective. Get your room something like Draculas den at night, and you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time. Blackout blinds are pretty cheap these days, but take a tip from the wise: Don’t use black bin liners on double glazed windows – They’ll end up making a crack in them.
Alternatively, go for the Joan Collins in Dynasty look, and pick out a fetching eye mask.
Again, sensory deprivation is the order of the day. Wearing comfy ear plugs knocks the edge off any noise that might unnecessarily break you out of your slumber. Super cheap, and very effective. Mack’s are an excellent brand.
Don’t drink late
While drinking alcohol can make you sleepy, and hence get to sleep faster, one of the chemicals produced by your body to break down alcohol actually prevents your brain from going into REM sleep. So late night drinking at can end up with your brain will trying to catch up on missed REM sleep – producing particularly poor sleep and vivid, memorable dreams. Definitely not what you want.
Write a list
Not only is this a great organizational principle, but also a great way of getting those niggling little thoughts about what you have to do tomorrow, off your mind and onto paper. Implementing this will have you sleeping and performing better.