Anyone who strives for muscle growth benefits from a good night’s sleep for several reasons. But sleeping well is not something that is taken for granted for everyone. Fortunately, you can do something about it: seven science-based steps.
1. BE ACTIVE THROUGHOUT THE DAY
Sunlight and exercise have a major impact on sleep. If you exercise for 30 minutes during the day, preferably in the open air, you will fall asleep faster at night and you can sleep up to half an hour longer per day. This is apparent from Korean research, among other things. Your sleep quality will also improve.
Another study shows that exposure to sunlight leads to deeper uninterrupted sleep the following night. In addition, the earlier people receive bright light in the morning, the earlier they fall asleep at night.
Sunlight ensures that your biological clock functions properly. It keeps your body awake, alert and active during the day.
But exercise is also important: there are few behaviors more convincingly linked to a good night’s sleep than physical activity, something our ancestors were naturally given plenty of. In these studies, exercise refers to walking and jogging. Low-intensity exercise is therefore sufficient.
2. REDUCE STRESS
Perhaps an open door, but still: avoid stress as much as possible. While you sleep, your body is in full physiological and psychological recovery mode. When you’re stressed, levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol are high. Feeling anxious and restless will disrupt your sleep, causing your cortisol levels to rise again and send you into a vicious circle.
Read in this article how you can reduce stress.
3. CLEAR YOUR MIND
You know that feeling when you’re desperately trying to fall asleep, but the thoughts in your head keep you from shutting down? It usually happens when you need sleep the most. The next day there is an important event, you have a stressful day or a lot of work awaits you.
What you can do about that is the following:
- Grab a pen and paper;
- Write down what you have achieved today and what you want to do tomorrow;
- Collect what’s bothering you and how you want to tackle it.
Writing it down will help your mind process your thoughts and you can go to bed with an empty and relaxed mind.
In addition, maintain a calm, relaxing ritual in the last hour before bedtime. Anything that relaxes you (for example, reading or taking a shower) helps you sleep.
4. TRY TO SLEEP AND WAKE UP AT REGULAR TIMES
Being consistent with your sleep and wake times can help improve sleep quality in the long run. Try to get into the habit of getting up and going to bed at the same times. After a few weeks, you may not even need an alarm anymore.
5. IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP HYGIENE
Good sleep hygiene means healthy conditions and healthy behavior for your sleep. Those include the following:
- Avoid screens and bright lights for an hour(s) before going to bed as much as possible. Exposure to light during the day is beneficial, we saw, but exposure to light at night has the opposite effect. Wear glasses that block blue light or install an app that blocks blue light on your smartphone.
- Avoid caffeine from mid-afternoon – the chemical stays in your system for hours. In addition to coffee, caffeine is also found in black tea, energy drinks, cola and chocolate.
- Do not drink too much, so that you do not wake up (too often) because you have to urinate.
- One or two glasses of alcohol can provide more relaxation. However, more glasses have a disruptive effect on your sleep. It often also makes getting up more tired.
- Watch what you eat. In addition to the sleep benefits of a good diet in general, avoiding spicy or high-fat foods at night can help.
- Sleep in a dark place. A percentage of the light in your bedroom passes through your closed eyelids and keeps your sleeping body in an unnecessary state of extra-high alertness, which hinders sleep.
- Provide comfort: a good bed and a cool, well-ventilated room. Blackout curtains and possibly earplugs can help if you are bothered by light and sound.
6. REDUCE IRREGULAR OR LONG DAYTIME NAPS
While short power naps are beneficial, long or infrequent naps throughout the day can negatively impact your sleep. Sleeping during the day can mess up your internal clock, meaning you may have trouble sleeping at night, according to research.
Another study noted that while a nap of 30 minutes or less can improve brain function during the day, longer naps can harm health and sleep quality.
7. TAKE A MELATONIN SUPPLEMENT
Melatonin is an important sleep hormone that tells your brain when it’s time to relax and go to bed. Melatonin supplements are a popular sleep aid.
If you’re a night owl or if your internal clock is running wild, for example due to time zone travel or the daily pressures of life, melatonin supplements can be helpful: they put the brain and body into sleep mode .
If you fall asleep easily enough, don’t mess with melatonin — you don’t need it, and it can actually disrupt your already solid sleep cycle.