– Foods (especially caffeine, alcohol and carb) affect your sleep quality;
– Relaxation before bed time improves sleep quality:
– Bed-time routine helps you sleep;
– Take sleep seriously and cure yourself by sleeping.
I don’t want to pretend that I’m an expert in sleep research. So, I am going to blog on something that I learned from scientific studies, a bunch of books about sleep, and something that I have tried by myself (both working and not-working tips).
First, foods affect your sleep quality, especially what you eat for dinner. In short, taking caffeine and alcohol a few hours before bed time will give you a ‘shallow sleep’. These chemical compounds stimulate human nerve systems and you only have deep sleeps when your nerve system is ‘relaxed’. The best you can do to have a good sleep is not to take any caffeine (tea or coffee) or alcohol 4 hours before going to bed. In addition, eating too much for dinner (especially carb such as pasta and potatoes) will cause blood sugar level to spike and affect your sleep. So, allow your stomach to digest your dinner at least for 2 hours before going to bed. 3-hour digestion is ideal.
Second, relaxation before bed time improves sleep quality. As to how you can relax, it depends. My wife relaxes best by watching comedy or talk shows. I, after months of testing, relax the best by reading, yoga and meditation. So, go on and find the best relaxation solution for yourself.
Third, bed-time routine helps greatly. Give yourself a good routine before going to bed. It starts by switching off your phone 30 minutes before bed. Dim the light of your bedroom, relax yourself (depending on how it works the best for you) and then go to bed. Make sure your room is dark and quiet because our brain will only shut down when it’s dark and quiet. Noise wakes up your brain the quickest (and that’s why we invented alarms with noises, not with smells). The time you go to bed can be a bit flexible (say 9.30-10.30), but try to wake up at the same time every day (say 7am). Human body works the best this way, so you can occasionally enjoy a late night movie, but still find yourself wake up the next morning at 7am! That’s how human bio-clock works.
Fourth, enjoy sleeping! Take it seriously and be amazed how it can work for you. My clients lose weight simply by sleeping better. Cells in our body repair themselves when we sleep, so the better you sleep, the better you can repair your body and look young! This is the easiest way to maintain weight and improve health. However, this principle must work together with the ‘food’ principle (point #1 above) because it’s impossible to lose weight by eating a lot in the evening (dinner and snacks) and then go to bed. Human body doesn’t work that way; sorry.
These tips sound simple and easy, but they are hard to stick to because we have a tendency to “break rules”. We know we shouldn’t eat too much for dinner but we still do. >_< Alcohol is not good for sleep but we still drink in the evening; sometimes too much. Relaxation improves sleep but we often choose to skip our bedtime routine because we are too tired.
The best way to improve sleep is to work with your partner and ‘remind’ each other. What gets monitored will improve! Wish you luck and share your ‘sleep’ stories with me and let me know what works or doesn’t work for you. Sleep tight and enjoy your sleep like I always do! ^_^
Dr. C. Richard Wu @ REEAConsulting.com