My pursuit to a good night’s sleep did not happen out of some profound desire to increase a skill set that I always thought came quite naturally to me. While serving in the military I perfected falling asleep faster than Justin Beiber’s yellow Lamborghini achieves the mile-per-minute mark.
Flash forward to my 40’s and introduce a new job, a new move and my insatiable desire to discover my “true calling” and all I thought I had triumphed over my wakefulness was nothing but a distant achievement. Stifling the many thoughts upon hitting the pillow now seemed as insurmountable as finishing my ½ gallon of milk before the sell by date.
5 Tips For Getting Better Sleep
My first step led me face to face with exactly what I thought was helping me to sleep; alcohol. But how could this be you ask? I can remember sleeping so effortlessly right through mid-term after consuming more red plastic cups of warm beer than Dublin has bars. It turns out alcohol may help us initiate sleep faster but, studies show alcohol results in more disrupted sleep later in the night. This means you wake feeling less rested. So pour yourself a big stein full abstinence and sleep longer and deeper.
I can vaguely remember learning about melatonin during my biology degree; it’s a naturally occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland. (A pea-sized gland located just above the middle of the brain) Melatonin is intimately involved in your Circadian rhythms. These rhythms govern our sleep/wake cycles. This panacea of sleep is conveniently available at your local box drugstore or, of course, online. See dosage on label.
Now, I’d love to fool you into believing I am adamant in my pursuit of health and find time daily to do so. Ha-ha, lofty goal. But on the semi-frequent occasion I do dabble in bodyweight torture, I have learned, and a 2013 study from the National Sleep Foundation showed, regular exercise leads to better sleep. So time to get up and move for better sleep.
If you had told me 20 years ago that I would be meditating on the daily I probably would have stained my Z Cavariccis laughing. Pan 20 metaphysical years later and I find myself sitting “Indian style” more often than I did in kindergarten. Here’s the twisted truth about meditation: a recent study from Yale found that those who meditate regularly are able to switch off parts of the brain associated with anxiety, schizophrenia, attention deficit, and hyperactivity disorder. This was found to translate into an improved quality of sleep. So break out those yoga mats, cop a squat and calm your mind for better sleep.
Have you heard of “binaural beats”? No, it’s not a boy band akin to One Direction, but a system of massaging your brain to produce different frequencies. Brainwaves come in 5 flavors: delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma (these gamma won’t turn you into the Hulk btw). By listening to disparate beats produced in each ear bud, for instance, 315 Hz in one ear and 325Hz in the other, your brain is gently massaged into a frequency conducive to sleep, think delta, our deepest level of sleep. Dust off that walkman, pop in a cassette and enjoy the best night of sleep possible without narcotics.
For more tips on sleep, be sure to read thoughts from a strength and conditioning coach.