Achieving optimal sleep is something many of us strive for yet regularly fail to accomplish. However, even when life’s demands prevent you from getting as much sleep as you’d like to, there are still a number of things you can do to maximize the quality of your time in bed.
Below are five easy steps to help you improve the effectiveness of your sleep.
In order to sleep well at night, it’s important to make smart choices during the day:
Be active – Studies show that exercise and other physical exertion may enable you to feel more tired when your body is ready to sleep.
Drink water – When WHOOP members report hydrating properly (throughout the day, not before bed specifically which can make you wake up to use the bathroom), they tend to sleep longer.
Avoid afternoon caffeine – Many people realize that an after-dinner coffee will keep them up at night, but the sleep-inhibiting effects of caffeine can actually linger in your system for 4 hours or more.
Don’t eat close to bed time – Your body wants to be in as restful a state as possible when its sleeping, and digesting food is a very active process.
The human body generally functions better when it is able to stick to routines. Following a consistent bedtime ritual creates a distinct moment of separation between day and night and lets your body anticipate the onset of sleep.
Beyond the standard things like brushing your teeth and putting on pajamas, here are several sleep-promoting activities to think about including in your bedtime routine:
Learn More: 28 Simple Techniques to Fall Asleep Fast
Making your bedroom as conducive to sleeping as possible will do wonders for getting a good night’s sleep. The more of these suggestions you can implement, the better:
Get comfortable – You want a mattress, pillow and sheets that you really like. You’ll fall asleep faster with warm feet as well, so wear socks to bed.
Total darkness – Either wear a sleep mask, or eliminate all the light in your room with blackout curtains and by covering any LEDs. Part of this is getting rid of your clock, for the light it emits and also because stress from watching it will keep you awake.
Cool temperature – Ideally 68 degrees or less, so you can experience that cozy feeling of getting into bed and cuddling under a warm blanket. Being hot and sweaty is also terrible for sleep.
No noise – Ear plugs do the trick. And if eliminating all noise isn’t a viable option, try a soft white-noise sound machine.
Learn More: The Optimal Sleep Playbook
Your circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal clock which regulates various cycles your body goes through, most significantly when you fall asleep and wake up. You can help keep your circadian rhythm aligned and allow your body to function more smoothly by going to sleep and getting up at similar times each day–we refer to this as sleep consistency.
A data study of 25,000 WHOOP members found that better sleep consistency increased time spent in both REM and deep sleep (the restorative stages of sleep), and also improved overall sleep efficiency (the percentage of time in bed you’re actually asleep).
The WHOOP app tracks your sleep consistency on a nightly basis, and also provides you with in-depth analysis of it as part of your Weekly Performance Assessment:
Our Sleep Coach feature incorporates your natural circadian rhythm and sleep consistency metrics to suggest ideal times for you to go to bed and wake up each day.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by your body that aids in regulating your circadian rhythm. Your brain generally releases more of it when it gets dark in an effort to tell your body that it’s time to go to sleep.
Many people take melatonin supplements to prevent insomnia and assist the process of falling asleep (combatting jet lag and shift work sleep disorder are common examples). As noted on our podcast by VP of Data Science and Research Emily Capodilupo, while melatonin can help you get to sleep initially, it won’t help you stay asleep.
Another sleep supplement that is widely gaining popularity is CBD oil. Anecdotally, many WHOOP members have reported seeing improved sleep stats after logging in the WHOOP Journal that they’ve taken CBD oil. The journal feature allows you to track how any number of behaviors may affect your sleep and other metrics, with Monthly Performance Assessments that offer a detailed breakdown of your results.