I recently overheard a conversation on the train in which these two people seemed to be comparing sleep practices. The conversation went a little something like this:
Man 1: Did you see the game last night?
Man 2: Yeah I was hoping for extra time too ‘cause I paid extra to watch it!!
Man 1: Hahaha work should start later when important games are on I mean come on you know we’re all watching we’re gonna talk about it the next day!
Man 2: Well if that was the case I would’ve just skipped extra time and took a full 10 hour sleep session and claimed the game kept me up hahaha!
…See anything wrong with this conversation? Don’t worry if it isn’t immediately obvious. I mean these conversations are happening pretty much every morning amongst most parts of the working population.
Correct me if I’m wrong but the proverbial Man 1 said we should get extra time when sports events are going to be on, (we can assume he is generalising to all major events, where your employer knows everyone will be awake later than usual), and then Man 2 responds by saying, knowing he’d have more time, he’d then sleep.
That concludes tonight’s episode of When Self-Care Goes Wrong.
It’s an interesting phenomenon in our world today. In order to make up for what we’d call lost hours we make decisions in one of the following ways:
“Well, It’s already midnight, I’ve got to be up at 5 so might as well watch the rest of this game, not gonna get enough sleep anyway”
“No work tomorrow? Perfect I get a long sleep tonight! *Sleeps at 9:30pm, wakes up at 10am*
No no no. This is all wrong!
Well hopefully this example requires no further explanation as to why you should avoid thinking like the above two characters, but it brings us to another important topic of discussion
Things You Need to Stop Doing Before Sleeping
Going to bed at inconsistent times
Follow this one carefully! IT in not referring to going to bed late – or even early for that matter. Our bodies are known to work best when we keep consistent schedules for everything we do. This doesn’t just mean sleeping – eating, waking, snacking etcetera.
Sleep studies have shown that we each have differing “chronotypes” – A person’s chronotype is the propensity for the individual to sleep at a particular time during a 24-hour period – so sleep experts recommend:
- Check out your required sleeping hours for your age
- Use a sleep tracker for a week or so to figure out your own sleep habits
- Stick to your sleeping time and hours
…which could be easier said than done which leads to the next point…
Stop doing “big” activities an hour before bedtime
By big activities we’re talking about long phone calls, hanging with friends, eating late night meals, watching Netflix…
This sounds unreasonably difficult for the modern world. You’re not the only one shaking your head at these words believe that. But that’s where discipline must come in.
Everything these days is designed to keep you using every hour in the day for something other than sleep as sleep is commonly associated with unproductivity this is totally and completely wrong.
A couple helpful tips for this point:
- Turn everything off
- Don’t binge watch
Stop consuming caffeine
You’ll probably be aware of the negative effects of caffeine on sleep, over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed around the world per day, but this is not limited to coffee – it includes all caffeinated drinks, cola, tea and energy drinks and anything containing caffeine.
Studies have shown that caffeine consumption as early as 6 hours before sleeping time is close enough to severely disrupt sleep in people most sensitive to its effects.
For this reason it’s advised you halt caffeine consumption in the mid afternoon (Depending on your sensitivity) especially if you find yourself waking up at night or experiencing sleep that is too light.
Using the Internet
The internet is an unavoidable part of everyday life. And the jury is still out on whether or not all of this technology has a net positive or a net negative effect on our humanity – but we’ll leave that for the scientists/philosophers for now.
What is certain though is that the internet is forever and unless you actively switch it off/remove yourself from it for a time, you will fall down the rabbit hole – the endless surfing loop that is a cause of innate human curiosity.
This is not helped by modern Artificial Intelligence – taken advantage of by every popular website today – which preys on humans need to keep clicking or in terms of social media keep scrolling.
Time slips away from you, and all of a sudden it’s 1 am and you’re about to get 4.5 hours of sleep for the 4th day in a row. Over the course of the week that would be a shortage of 17.5 hours sleep!
They say we live in the easiest times of all, no war, no real threat to our lives. But it goes without saying that the sheer amount of options and decisions we have to make due to choice mean this is the time which requires more self-control than ever in history.
Working out late
Why is it harder to get to sleep in summer than winter? Why is it harder to sleep in a hot room than an cold one? Well the reasons are the same, but to keep it simple, when we sleep our body temperatures are slightly lower than when we’re awake.
Working out raises our core body temperature and creates the same conditions as trying to sleep in a hot uncomfortable room.
What should do instead:
- Move intense workouts (strength training/HIIT/Hard cardio) to the morning/afternoon when your body is warmed up.
- Move lighter workouts (stretching/yoga/Pilates/jogging) to the evenings as these can actually help you wind down and won’t wreak havoc on your sleep quality.
3 Things you should start doing before bed instead
Put your phone 10 meters away from your bed
Dr. Natalie Dautovich of the National Sleep Foundation had this to say about the electronics and wellbeing:
“In the evening, power down electronics at least an hour before bed to avoid both the mental and physical stimulation from these devices,”
The effects of blue-light on our sleep quality is something that has been mentioned many times on NiteKite, and this is referring to the same problem – over-stimulation before bed increases the amount of time taken to get to sleep.
There are additional hidden benefits to keeping your phone at a distance when sleeping:
If you use your phone as an alarm, you will have to get up to turn it off – no more snoozing.
The dangers of smartphones have led to advice that it’s safer to charge your phone away from pillows
Clear the clutter
Wake up feeling incomplete and down? like yesterday was unresolved?
One of the reasons this happens in because we are mentally still experiencing the previous day. To counteract this many people have found just by not leaving yesterdays mess to clean up today we wake up and start fresh feeling like the day is full of new opportunities. This has a knock-on effect on our wellbeing and productivity.
It’s the little things that count, more than we know.
Learn a language/Play an instrument
While neither of these things may currently be of personal interest to you, science has shown that these low-stimuli activities help to put the brain in a relaxed state.
There is particular evidence which suggests the best time to practice a language is late at night as your brain processes and stores it away while you sleep – in a modern globalised world why not kill two birds with one stone by picking up new languages and getting better quality sleep?