The 1 Thing You Need to Get Better Sleep (Plus 4 Bonus Tips!)
Prioritizing sleep is non-negotiable if you want to achieve your peak brain.
You need sleep to consolidate learning into memory and skill development. It is also during sleep that the brain flushes out neurotoxins, substances that can damage, destroy, or impair nerve tissue, that build-up throughout the day. For the 7 out of every 10 Americans who struggle with sleep at least once per week, the consequences of poor sleep may be experienced as trouble thinking and concentrating, memory issues, mood changes, poor energy, food cravings and more.
As experts in brain health and peak performance, we’re here to help you understand how to take control of your sleep and boost your brain power. So what’s the number one thing you need to do?
Keep A Routine
Habit is very powerful. When you do the same thing over and over again, you deepen and strengthen the neural pathways that create that behavior in the brain. The stronger the pathway, the more “naturally” the behavior follows. When we execute our habits at the same time every day, it’s called routine. Harnessing the power of routine is possibly the most powerful way to organically harness your brain power.
When it comes to sleep, nothing is more important than making a habit of going to bed at the same time each night, and waking up at the same time every morning, regardless of the day of the week. (That’s right, your brain doesn’t care if it’s Saturday. If you wake up at 7 for the workweek, it’s best to wake up at 7 on the weekend too.)
This is our top tip. But we at Peak Brain are peak performers: We take everything to the next level! To really harness the power of habit, consider elaborating your new bedtime routine in the following ways:
Turn off the lights!
Specifically we’re talking about the lights from screens. Although all forms of light can disrupt sleep, blue light, the blue-toned lightwaves that come from electronic screens and energy efficient lightbulbs, is proven to be the worst.
Long before technology existed, your body evolved to secrete the hormone melatonin around sunset, triggered by the natural light of this time of day. Melatonin initiates the processes of getting sleepy, in addition to having a wide range of other regulatory and protective effects such as synchronizing circadian rhythm, protecting against oxidative stress, regulating energy metabolism, modulating the immune system, and postponing the aging process.
The modern world disturbs melatonin production. While synthetic melatonin supplements are available, becoming dependent on them can be risky. This is because the body uses serotonin to make melatonin. Introducing supplemental melatonin may trick the brain to make less serotonin, which can have cascading negative effects on a variety of things including energy, appetite and mood.
So why risk it? Your best option is simply to go screen free and dim the lights an hour or two before your bedtime. But what will you do during that time without your phone or tablet? Read on!
Develop your mindfulness practice
It’s worth your time to practice mindfulness. The scientific research on this is clear. Among many other things, it can help you sleep better, too! Research shows that mindfulness reduces stress, decreases insomnia and improves general sleep quality. And all it is, in a nutshell, is: Paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, to something specific, in the present moment.
Not sure how to start? Free group mindfulness classes are available at Peak Brain Institute, in both Los Angeles and St. Louis. If you can’t make it to one of our classes in person, you can still work with a Peak Brain mindfulness coach with a 1-on-1 session over phone or Skype! Call now book your first private session.
Take a hot shower
Cooling down is another way the body prepares itself for sleep. So a hot shower before bed can help you in two ways! First, while you’re in there, the warmth helps to relax your body and your mind. After you step out, your body begins to cool down in the fresh air, sending further signals to relax and get ready to sleep. To use this knowledge another way, set your bedroom thermostat to 65°F, the ideal sleeping temperature for most people.
Write in a journal
A 2018 study found that people found it easier to fall asleep after “writing a very specific to-do list for 5 min at bedtime.” This is because it is often worry that keeps people awake at night. By writing down your goals for the next day, and planning how you will achieve them, you can decrease your worry and empower yourself. All by the warm light of a bedside lamp! (Check out the BioHackers Lab guide to sleep promoting light bulbs.)
For most people, a consistent bedtime and bedtime routine can cause dramatic improvements in sleep health. However, some people simply have a dysregulation in brainwave activity that causes them trouble with falling asleep, staying asleep, or both.
If you simply can’t overcome your sleep troubles on your own, we’re here to help! The Peak Brain approach to neurofeedback brainwave training helps improve sleep quality without using pills or supplements. To see what neurofeedback can do for you, call us now at (424) 603-4950, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.