Want Better Sleep? Here’s 2 Easy ways to get it.
by Joe DiStefano, co-founder of Spartan Coaches
Sleep is everything when it comes to mental focus and physical preparedness. In fact, living with the mindset “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” may get you there quite a bit faster! According to one study that studied over 10,000 participants, there was noted a two fold increase in death from all causes in participants sleeping 5 hours per night or less compared to those sleeping 7-8 . This may be correlated to the fact that sleep deprivation increases insulin sensitivity which increases risk for weight gain, diabetes and heart disease – some of our most prevalent modern day killers. Furthermore, even just subtle degrees of sleep deprivation overtime can be correlated with immune suppression, cognitive decline, and mental health problems, increasing the instance of seemingly unrelated problems ranging from the common cold, to car accidents and depression.
Again. The mindset “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” may get you there quite a bit faster!
Thankfully, to ensure the best possible night sleep there are a two really easy things we can do that are going to have an immediate impact on your sleep quality and exercise recovery. First, avoid all caffeine after 3pm. Yes, yes even you “Mr. Caffeine-Does-Not-Effect-My-Sleep” because it does. Caffeine is a stimulant that stays in your system for over 6 hours! Regardless if you aren’t feeling jittery or full of energy, caffeine is still going to activate the sympathetic nervous system, also known as our “Flight or Fight” response . Being in “Flight or Fight” is associated with increased glucose mobilization, increased blood pressure, and increased vigilance and alertness. All things you do not want if the goal is to sleep restfully.
Being unconscious and sleeping restfully are two different things.
Number two is to avoid using laptops, iPads, and cell phones for at least an hour or two (or three) before bedtime. This may come as a surprise, because nearly all of us are guilty of it, but the intense blue light many of today’s most popular gadgets shine directly into your eyeballs confuses the brain, suppresses melatonin production, and disrupts the circadian rhythm we developed over hundreds of thousands of years of rising and falling with the sun.
A 2013 study, published in the Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, concluded that male drivers exposed to bright light and given 200mg of caffeine at 1:00am showed reduced instances of lane drifting and improved reaction time at 6am! Even when compared to the same subject under placebo conditions, or given just one or the other .
Avoiding both of these things will allow you to immeidately improve any symptoms you may be feeling related to poor sleep, whether you are aware your sleep is to blame or not. You’ll be amazed how much these easy things slow down your thoughts, allow you to forget about work, money, family, or relationships, and allow you to get what may be your best night’s sleep of the year.
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Nehlig, A; Daval, JL; Debry, G. “Caffeine and the central nervous system: Mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic, and psychostimulant effects”. Brain Res Rev. May-August 1992. 17 (2): 139-70. – See more at:http://www.jyi.org/issue/caffeine-understanding-the-worlds-most-popular-psychoactive-drug/#sthash.NBe3CYAg.dpuf
Hartley SL, Barbot F, Machou M, Lejaille M, Moreau B, Vaugier I, Lofaso F, Quera-Salva MA. Combined caffeine and bright light reduces dangerous driving in sleep-deprived healthy volunteers: A Pilot Cross-Over Randomised Controlled Trial. Neurophysiol Clin. 2013 Jun;43(3):161-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neucli.2013.04.001. Epub 2013 Apr 26. PubMed PMID: 23856172.