How to sleep better to improve productivity and learning performance
What are the best six doctors anywhere? They are Sunshine, Air, Water, Exercise, Nutrition and Sleep. The latter is indeed a crucial factor in our general well-being, but it also plays an important role when it comes to our work performance and learning capabilities. The following 9 tips on how to sleep better aim to help you improve in those areas.
Sleep is important, I know, but…
We intuitively know how important sleep is for our body to function well, but often ignore its need for sufficient rest. “Sleep is for the weak” you might say, but it's necessary to maintain good mental and physical health, high quality of life and also safety (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2015). Even more:
“Research shows that most people require seven or eight hours of sleep to function optimally. Failing to get enough sleep night after night can compromise your health and may even shorten your life (Brody, 2013)”.
Ok, ok. And now what?
Keeping all of this in mind, when was the last time you had a good night’s rest? If you can’t remember the last time you woke up well-rested, now is a good time to start!
You want to start thinking about how to make sleep a priority. Believe it or not, getting that extra hour or two of sleep each night can greatly affect your everyday life. A good night of sleep is essential to a person’s overall health and wellness.
In addition to sleep being important for your health, did you know that by getting enough rest you can also help improve your reading and overall learning performance? For some people, reading and sleeping go hand in hand. Many people read each night before bed for enjoyment or to help them fall asleep. Ensuring you get enough sleep can also help ensure you are more focused and ready to read throughout the day.
9 Tips on How To Sleep Better
1. Establish a Nightly Routine
Choose a time that works best for you and your schedule to start to wind down each night. This could include starting a before-bed routine by taking some time to unwind, relax, listen to music, or begin to read a book each night. Setting a time to start your nightly routine can help you stick to your plan and begin to get ready for a good night’s rest.
Read: Guide to build good habits.
2. Create a Calm and Restful Environment
Life is busy and full of distractions, but your bedroom should be an escape and a place of relaxation. Choosing neutral and natural tones and colors for the walls, bedding, and furniture can create a calming mood in the room. This can help set your mind at ease and help you to begin to relax each night.
3. Comfort is Key
Sleeping on a comfortable mattress is crucial to getting a good night’s rest. Sleeping cramped on a couch, chair, or old mattress can make getting any rest difficult. A supportive mattress will help you wake up feeling relaxed, refreshed, and ready to go!
4. Make it a Point to Exercise
From my own experience, when I incorporate exercise into my day I notice many benefits. Not only do I feel less stressed, but I also feel ready to rest when it is time to start my nightly routine. Find an activity or workout that you enjoy! This will make incorporating exercise fun to look forward to. By the end of the day, you will be ready to rest up.
5. Avoid Caffeine and Heavy Meals Before Bed
Going to sleep too soon after consuming too much caffeine or a heavy meal can make you falling asleep difficult. Set a time limit for your caffeine and meal consumption. Staying away from caffeine a few hours before bed will eliminate the risk of disruptive effects.
6. Unplug and De-Stress:
These days, we are almost always “plugged in.” Whether you are working, checking emails, or keeping up with family and friends through social media, people are always connected to technology. Take time to turn off notifications, turn alerts to silent, and just unplug in general. The work, emails, and messages can wait until morning.
Read: Guide to deep work.
7. Calm down your inner voice
Our mind is constantly producing ideas, thoughts and memories. They can be productive and creative ones, more often, however, they just run on auto mode, responding to impulses and are rather distracting than of help. Focusing on your breath and let all the thoughts go will help calm you down. An 8-minute meditation before bed, reflecting on the day’s happenings will be even more effective in letting the day go and relaxing muscles and nerves.
8. Plan Ahead
A struggle for a lot of people before sleeping is that their minds begin to race. Many people begin to think about what they have to do tomorrow or in the future. Taking just a few minutes to organize your thoughts can help put your mind at ease. One suggestion is to make a list before bed to help settle any anxiety. Anything can be accomplished through time. Not everything needs to be accomplished in one day.
Read: How to set goals and priorities.
9. Think Positive and Reflect
Each day has something new to offer and there is definitely something to say for having a positive attitude. Reflecting back on the positive aspects of your day can help you feel proud of what you have accomplished.
How To Sleep Better – Summary
After time and giving these tips on how to sleep better a try, you should be able to gain more rest and sleep better overall.
“Half of Americans say their uneven sleep makes it harder to concentrate on tasks (Park, 2014)”.
The lack of concentration can apply to any task, including focusing on reading. By applying some of these suggestions, not only will you be more rested each day, you will be more focused too!
One area of focus that can be improved through sleep is reading performance. In a study conducted by the Brazilian Association of Sleep they discovered,
“Inadequate sleep undermines many cognitive functions, including memory, concentration, and attention, which are vital in everyday activities. We hypothesized that poor quality or shorter sleep length may impair reading-related skills, resources, and outcomes, specifically verbal working memory span, verbal efficiency, and reading comprehension (Ellis, Walczyk, Buboltz, & Felix, 2014)“.
The more quality sleep the participants received, the more improvements they noticed in their ability to focus, concentrate, pay attention, and handle everyday activities. Learners of any age can benefit from more sleep, increase their reading performance, and enhance their overall wellness.
How To Sleep Better – Tips and Tricks
- Set a regular bedtime. Have a sleep routine.
- Drink a small glass of water before bedtime.
- Big meals, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine at night are sleep killers.
- Try to sleep in a dark room.
- Allow the room to be cool, avoid dry rooms.
- A good mattress is beneficial to your spine and overall sleep.
- Regular exercises provide health benefits; a good night's sleep is one of them.
- If you need to go to the bathroom at night avoid using any light.
- Reading a book can help relax and get tired.
- eReaders with e-ink screens are better than backlight devices such as tablets.
- Finish all computer activities at least one hour before bed to help your sleep.
- Falling asleep with the TV turned on will suppress melatonin production.
- Vitamins, minerals and trace elements are important to sleep well.
- Pay attention to Leptin, Thiamine, Magnesium and Melatonin.
- Stress is a concentration and sleep killer. Get it fixed!
- Meditation is relaxing and helps drop off quickly.
- Apply deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation to prepare for sleep.
- Recall your day. What's the highlight, what's the downside? Then let it go!
- Affirmations help sleep better: Wish yourself nice dreams and a good sleep.
- Plan you daily tasks ahead to sort things before bed and wake up focused.
- Teach yourself to lucid dream and master to sleep better on a different level.
Read and Sleep Better – Further Resources
- HelpGuide – Tips for getting a good night's sleep
- Mayo Clinic – 7 steps to better sleep
- BBC Health – Body Clock: What makes you tick?
- BBC Future – How to become a lucid dreamer
- LifeHacker – 10 ways to sleep better
- WebMD Guide – Guide on how to sleep better
- SleepBetter.Org – Sleep solutions for any lifestyle
- Sleep Foundation – Melatonin and Sleep
- Mark's Daily Apple – 17 Ways To Improve Your Sleep
Bonus tip: A power nap in the afternoon will improve your focus and concentration.
Photo credit: Pexels
Do you count sheep or numbers? Share your tips on how to sleep better in the comment box below.