If you are feeling sluggish and looking for ways to enhance your physical and mental capacity, then let`s take a look at these 5 tips for better sleep and improved cognitive performance.
Many people simply don’t recognise just how important sleep is for optimal good health, brain function, mood and even physical strength. It is during sleep that the body repairs itself from the damage caused throughout the day and it`s also when the brain begins to rejuvenate its neurotransmitters and strengthens new connections.
If you happen to sleep well, then this is a good thing because you will be more alert, focused, creative and generally a much happier person as opposed to somebody who doesn`t sleep well.
So what ways can we adopt to enhance sleep and increase our cognitive performance?
Stick To a Set Bedtime
I know this isn’t an easy one to enforce, but trying to get to bed at roughly the same time each night will have significant benefits for the functioning of your brain, mood and much more. It`s quite easy sometimes to flop in front of the TV and vegetate, especially after a hard day at work.
Often it is difficult to pull yourself away even though we know its late and its an early alarm clock the next day. Watching TV or staring into a smart phone or tablet too close to bedtime will do you no favours when it comes to trying to get quality sleep.
The brain needs time to relax and slow down before sleep but unfortunately the modern tech gadgets of today only excite the brain and its transmitters. This causes long term sleep problems the more we use them and its a habit that needs to be addressed if a positive and successful outcome is sought.
Sleep On A Comfortable Mattress & Pillows
Another way for more effective sleep is making sure your mattress is supportive and comfortable enough for you. Try to remember how long you have been using your current one.The mattress you already may have exceeded its life expectancy, which is around 9 to 10 years for most good quality mattresses.
Also are your pillows comfortable? Are you using enough of them? Or perhaps too many? The way your neck and upper body is positioned is vital in maintaining the correct posture at night. If you are too elevated or not elevated enough this can cause discomfort and result in a bad night`s sleep.
Regulate Room Temperature
It`s important to make sure your room is at the correct temperature when you sleep as this can have a huge impact on your quality of sleep. One suggestion that can be beneficial is to take a warm bath just before bed.
The purpose of this is that it will aid in relaxing the muscles and the brain due to the warmth, but also it encourages the body to better regulate its own temperature as you sleep. This strategy helps prevent you from getting too hot or too cold.
Another suggestion on how to get a better night’s sleep is that the environment around you is kept slightly cool. Open a window slightly for example and make sure the heating is switched off, or left on at a very low temperature.
Manage Your Circadian Rhythms
Your circadian rhythm is an important aspect to consider when wanting to sleep better. Try to avoid using bright lights in the evening especially when it gets close to bedtime and try to expose yourself to sunlight at some point in the morning.
This will keep your circadian rhythms in a steady routine. The desynchronisation of these rhythms can cause insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness or both and is basically a disruption of the internal sleep-wake rhythms and the light-darkness cycle within the body.
We humans are programmed by our ‘circadian rhythm’ which helps us to feel tired at the right time, which is just before bed and to wake up at the right time, when the sun rises.
This is based not only on external cues, technically called ‘external zeitgebers’ but also on our internal biology, called ‘internal pacemakers’ such as the build up of adenosine in the brain.
If you can get into the correct rhythm then, your brain will be ready for bed when you hit the pillow. This will produce a better quality night’s sleep and less ‘sleep inertia’ the next day. If the body is able to realign properly, in time your lack of sleep symptoms will generally go away.
Take Time To Relax
One of the most important factors to consider about getting better sleep is to allow yourself to ‘chill’ at the end of the day before you head off to sleep.
As mentioned previously, this means that you should try to spend at least about half an hour without using your smartphone for example and avoid television and computer games as well.
They all happen to produce light of a certain spectrum that will make the brain more alert and awake, while also triggering a stress response.
Instead, why not turn to a book and try reading for 30 minutes or so with a dim light. Write in your journal for a little while perhaps if you have one and describe the events of the day. what went well for you and what didn`t. Or maybe you can plan the tasks you need to do the following day.
By implementing these 5 tips for better sleep and improved cognitive performance, I`m confident this will help you to start relaxing a little more and will encourage the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Meanwhile, reading will cause your eyes to get tired, making it hard to keep them open! That can only be a good thing when you are looking to get a decent night`s sleep.
If you think this article was helpful then please share it with someone who you think might benefit from it. Also I welcome your comments below if you have or have had sleep problems in your life. What are you doing to remedy it or have you already fixed the problem?