How to Sleep Better: A Checklist

Sleeping

By now, most of us know and understand the importance of why we sleep, but often we neglect the things we can do to improve our sleep. Gone are the days of staying up until 4am playing video games or watching TV. Your “nightcap” of alcohol is probably causing more harm than good, especially if you are having more than one drink. Improving your habits surrounding sleep will do wonders for how you feel throughout the day, both mentally and physically. 

When I am approached for advice on health and wellness, one of the first questions I ask is: how much do you sleep? Then I dig deeper to find out the quality of the sleep and when it is occurring. You can have the perfect training or nutrition plan, but all of that can be erased with poor sleep. It’s that important!

Higher amounts of sleep quantity and quality has been associated with improved metabolism, stronger likelihood of building muscle, and greater chance to burn fat. Lack of sleep has been shown to slow metabolism, increase blood pressure, increase ghrelin (the hormone associated with hunger), cause insulin resistance, and increase cortisol (Van Cauter 2008). This is why I ask that question first; I can’t do much to help you with your goals if you are only sleeping 4-5 hours a night. 

We have checklists for the 99 things we need to accomplish on a daily basis, but we don’t have a checklist for the most important thing our body needs to function optimally. And if the thought of adding another checklist to your day stresses you out, think of this as a script instead.  If you are someone who struggles with sleep, I suggest starting at the top of the list and working your way down. I’ve been fortunate to attend seminars with the world’s leading experts on performance, and these same principles exist in many of their recommendations.

RyNo Strength Recommendations for Better Sleep:

  • Try to get to bed around the same time every night and wake up around the same time in the morning. This helps set your circadian clock making it easier to get to sleep at night.
  • Get sunlight into your eyes within the first 2 hours of your day, even if it is cloudy outside.
  • Sleep in a dark room with no light; use blackout curtains if necessary. For me, this was a game changer living in high rises in downtown Chicago! 
  • Sleep in a quiet room or use earplugs. I like the foam kind because I can barely feel them, especially if I sleep on my side.
  • Set your temperature in your room to be around 65°F, give or take a few degrees. A cool room will help you settle into and maintain sleep throughout the night.
  • Eliminate caffeine usage by 12pm and refrain from drinking liquids too close to bed. 
  • Limit screen usage before bed. Blue light from these screens prevents melatonin secretion and sends a message to your brain to stay awake. Wearing blue light blocking glasses in the evening will help reduce the waking impact of electronics on the eyes. 
  • Some carbohydrates in your meal about 2-3 hours before bed has been shown to help with quality of sleep and helps prevent waking.
  • Research has shown supplementing with 300-400mg of magnesium can help with sleep. Magnesium deficiency will disrupt sleep. Chelated magnesium seems to be best (Lindberg et al 1990).

References:


Fernandez, F.-X. (2022). Current insights into optimal lighting for promoting sleep and Circadian Health: Brighter Days and the importance of sunlight in the built environment. Nature and Science of Sleep, Volume 14, 25–39. https://doi.org/10.2147/nss.s251712 

Lindberg, J. S., Zobitz, M. M., Poindexter, J. R., & Pak, C. Y. (1990). Magnesium bioavailability from magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 9(1), 48–55. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.1990.10720349Van Cauter, E., Spiegel, K., Tasali, E., & Leproult, R. (2008). Metabolic consequences of sleep and sleep loss. Sleep Medicine, 9. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1389-9457(08)70013-3

Ryan Nosak

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