Everything You Need to Know About Sleep Quality

Hey Angels and Alphas,

It’s a fact – sleep is vital. Although many people are still trying to figure out exactly why we sleep, we are yet to find a definitive answer to that question.

But do you know what question we do have an answer to?

It’s, “How can I get a better night’s sleep?”

And this is precisely the question we’ll be looking at today – sleep quality, how it affects you, and how you can drastically improve your sleep quality and technically sleep more in less time.

First of all, how do we define sleep quality?

For one, we know how it looks when someone has had a good night’s sleep. Sleeping directly affects our physical and mental health, and falling short of it can mean taking a nasty toll.

Lower daytime energy, productivity, focus, memory, and emotional balance, all of these come as a result of poor sleep quality.

And don’t confuse quality with quantity, especially when it comes to sleep. You can be getting a full 8-9 hours every night and still struggle from all of these traits of poor quality sleep.

Many of us toss and turn in bed at night, wondering why our body just won’t go to sleep. Sometimes, sleeping well feels like a goal you can’t achieve, even though you’re wide awake at 2 a.m., and you’re trying your best to give your body some rest.

But I’m here to tell you that you have immense control over your sleep quality. More than you currently realize. More often than not, how well you sleep at night will determine how you feel during the day – so getting poor quality sleep means that, somewhere in your daytime routine, you’re doing something wrong.

These lifestyle habits that you carry out throughout the day are what’s keeping you up at night. It’s easy to notice adverse effects on your own mood, creativity, energy, vitality, weight, even your immune system – when you’re not getting good quality sleep.

That’s why I’ve compiled this checklist of five sleep quality go-to’s. Anytime you’re having difficulty getting quality sleep, refer to this list, and you’ll be back to good sleep habits.

Sleep Quality Tip #1 – It’s all in the light. 

Have you heard of melatonin? Of course, you have. It’s a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure. It helps you regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

When it’s dark, the brain starts secreting melatonin. The darker it is, the sleepier you tend to become. While during the day, when not as much melatonin is being released, you’re more aware, conscious, and alert.

However, most people nowadays have that totally flipped around. Our “modern” way of living has us shifting our circadian rhythm and altering the body’s production of melatonin.

Here are some tips you can use to make sure you’re properly managing light, and you’re supporting your body’s natural melatonin cycle.

  • When you get up, immediately expose yourself to bright sunlight. Have coffee on the terrace, eat breakfast by the window, whatever. Just get sunlight hitting your face as soon as possible every morning.
  • Try to spend more time in direct daylight. If you can take your work outside (or at least your work break), do so. Exercise outside at least once a week.
  • When you’re at home or at work, let as much natural light come in through the windows as possible. In other words, keep the curtains and blinds open.
  • One hour before bedtime, avoid all bright screens. The blue light emitted by our phones, tablets, and TVs is highly disruptive. If you can’t avoid it, at least keep the brightness down and use light-altering software to avoid blue light.
  • When it comes to videos and TV, keep it relaxed. A lot of the videos we watch at night tend to be stimulating, and this doesn’t help our natural circadian rhythm.
  • When it’s time to go to sleep, make sure your room is pitch dark. You might also want to cover up electronic devices that emit light. Sleep masks are also an awesome addition here.

Sleep Quality Tip #2 – Your Natural Sleep-Wake Cycle 

There’s absolutely no better strategy for sleeping better. You have to get in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and keep a regular sleep-wake schedule.

If you do this for even a week, you’re going to see a profound difference in our energy levels, and you’re going to feel more refreshed every day. You can even start getting away with less sleep.

Here are some mini-tips that will allow you to get a better understanding of your natural sleep-wake cycle.

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. This helps your body optimize the quality of your sleep for the amount of sleep you’re going to get. It’s like hacking your internal clock. Choose a bedtime where you usually feel tired and start going to sleep at that time every night. Then keep track of exactly when you wake up each morning.
  • Don’t overdo the nap. Yes, naps are awesome. They help you make up for lost sleep and give you an energy boost that feels like it can last you centuries. But don’t be fooled, as napping can make things worse for your internal clock. Limit them to not more than 30 minutes a day.
  • Some people get drowsy after dinner. To make sure you’re keeping your body’s natural cycle, do something stimulating after dinner if you’re one of those people. Don’t you hate it when you accidentally go to sleep in the afternoon, and then can’t fall asleep at night?

Sleep Quality Tip #3 – Watch your Nutrition 

Especially in the hours before bedtime, what you eat can make or break your sleep cycle.

Here’s what you must absolutely know in order to make sure your nutrition is helping your sleep cycle instead of ruining it.

  • No caffeine! To oversimplify the way coffee works in your body, just imagine this hypothetical scenario: coffee molecules and sleep molecules are fighting for who gets to overpower your brain. If you drink a cup of coffee at around 4 p.m., coffee molecules are still floating around in your brain at midnight. Even if you fall asleep, your sleep quality will be horrendous!
  • Avoid heavy meals and too many liquids before bedtime. Too much of either can cause bloating and stomach trouble while you’re sleeping. This is especially crucial when it comes to sugar and refined carbs. If you eat them late, they’ll give you an energy burst that will keep you out of the restorative stages of deep sleep.
  • Avoid heavy meals and too many liquids before bedtime. Too much of either can cause bloating and stomach trouble while you’re sleeping. This is especially crucial when it comes to sugar and refined carbs. If you eat them late, they’ll give you an energy burst that will keep you out of the restorative stages of deep sleep.

Sleep Quality Tip #4 – Daily Exercise

People who exercise every day report sleeping better at night (not to mention feeling less sleepy during the day).

But this doesn’t have to mean super intense exercise. Even walking for 10 minutes can help improve your sleep quality. But as a rule of thumb, the more rigorous the workout, the bigger the sleep benefits.

The only thing you have to keep in mind here is when you exercise.

Because exercise tends to speed up the metabolism and raise body temperature, some experts have pointed out that this is adverse to your sleep quality.

Try to finish your hard workouts at least 3-4 hours before you go to bed, so your body has time to get in a relaxed state. Yoga, meditation, or gentle stretching can help with that also.

Will Sleeping Better Improve Workout Performance?

In short, yes.

The better your rest, the better your physical and mental capacity and productivity will be. The gym is no exception to this. Good sleep habits have been proven to help with motivation, focus, muscle recovery, and a gazillion other factors that all relate to your gym progress.

Here’s a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. It found a correlation between the quality of sleep and the likeliness to follow through with an exercise routine.

They concluded that getting enough sleep will not only give you the strength you need to maximize your workout; it will also make you more driven, focused, and motivated to give your very best.

And let’s be honest – not getting enough quality sleep makes exercise feel harder and tedious. But here’s a fun fact – sleep deprivation does not affect your cardiovascular or respiratory responses to exercise, nor does it affect your performance capabilities. It will, however, make it easier for you to fatigue yourself and lose your drive.

It’s not technically tougher. It only feels tougher.

To conclude, we can say that getting enough sleep most likely won’t turn you into a bodybuilder on its own. Getting an extra hour of sleep won’t make you smarter or stronger.

But not getting that extra hour when you really need it can, quite frankly, ruin your day.

Follow the sleep quality tips I’ve shared with you, and you’re guaranteed to improve the quality of rest you’re getting. Do this first, and you’ll have the mental and physical preparedness to face any daytime challenge in front of you. I promise.

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