It seems like no matter how long, or how short we sleep for, we always want more!
Sleep affects everything to do with our body and mind, yet the majority of people neglect it, or don’t fully understand the impact of getting a good night’s rest.
In the past, only sleeping for 4-5 hours a night, and working 80-hours per week, was seen as a badge of honour. In fact, people who talked about having a bed-time routine, or going to sleep early, or getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night, were seen as being ‘soft’ or ‘lazy’.
Yes, there are extremes, and certain people could get away with sleep deprivation in the short-term, but we believe sleep deficiency is detrimental in the long term. According to Ben Bergeron, “… you are sleep deprived if (you get less than) 7 hours (of sleep per night)” (Bergeron, 2018, 00:07:33)
Quantity & Quality
“How good is the sleep you’re having? Not just how much you’re having of it,” asks Bergeron. He goes on to say, “… it’s not REM sleep that matters the most … it’s deep sleep.” (Bergeron, 2018, 00:11:02) REM stands for rapid eye movement, and has widely been promoted as the most important stage of sleep.
There are various stages of sleep, and REM is an important stage, however deep sleep is the most important of them all. “Deep sleep … provides the most restorative sleep of all the sleep stages. This is why if you take a short nap during the day, you’re still able to fall asleep at night. But if you take a nap long enough to fall into deep sleep, you have more difficulty falling asleep at night because you reduced your need for sleep.” (Stages of Sleep and Sleep Cycles, 2019)
10 Principles for Better Sleep
For the general population who are simply looking to lead a healthy lifestyle, they’ll need to ensure that they getting sufficient, quality sleep. In order to do so, we believe you should apply the following 10 principles:
1. Create a nightly routine: set yourself up for success. “Before you work out, you have a warm-up routine … [because] it’s going to maximise your performance.” (Bergeron, 2018, 00:11:31) Creating a nightly routine will help us to get the best possible sleep.
2. No caffeine after noon: The effect of caffeine is unique to each individual as everybody metabolises caffeine differently. For the average individual, the caffeine from one cup of coffee will last for 4-6 hours, and that’s only for the first half (caffeine has a half-life). That means the caffeine from one cup of coffee at noon could still have an effect on you at 21:00! “Some people [say] I can have … a double espresso and fall asleep on the plane … That’s because you’re exhausted! … Your body can shut down like that because you’re so tired because you’ve been living off of this external energy for so long.” (Bergeron, 2018, 00:15:26)
3. Limit liquids two hours prior to falling asleep: This is simply to prevent you from having to wake up to go to the bathroom. If you have to wake up, it is a major, major disruption to your sleep patterns . If you never wake up in the middle of the night, you’re good to go. If you wake up twice every night, try get it down to once, then zero.
4. Turn off all screens an hour before lights out: The refers to blue light e.g. mobile phone, television, computer etc. “Blue light is … incredibly disruptive to circadian rhythms in sleep. You could be on your phone in bed, literally put it down and you could be asleep in like 6 minutes, or a minute, it still doesn’t mean it’s not disrupting your sleep. While you are sleeping, you’re not going to fall into a deep sleep as well.” (Bergeron 2018, 00:17:56) Avoiding all blue light an hour would be good, 2 hours even better, and 3 hours would be great. A lot of smartphones now have a blue light filter, if this is activated then you’re free to use your smartphone before you go to sleep.
5. Bring the room temperature down to 17°C – 20°C: Simply, this has been found to be the optimal temperature for the best quality of sleep
6. Lights out by 10pm: “ For … hundreds of thousands of years, we as human beings have not been exposed to artificial light. We have slept with the natural rhythms of nature … You get your deepest sleep between the hours of 10pm and 2am, that’s when the best sleep quality happens … Sleeping from midnight until 8am is not the same as sleeping from 10[pm] to 6[am].” (Bergeron, 2018, 00:21:27)
7. Seek complete darkness & silence: Our ancestors slept in caves, or some form of shelter, so once the sun had set, it was completely dark. “[A study was conducted] where they put someone in a completely dark room, and they [shone] a tiny little light … on the back of their knee … [and] that little bit of light, not hitting your eyes, but hitting your skin, is enough to disrupt your sleep.” (Bergeron, 2018, 00:23:16) Simple preventative measures include buying blackout shades; blinds or curtains are usually not enough. Remove clocks that emit bright light, or mobile phones that could light up. Seeking silence is equally important. If we are exposed to noise, and we don’t wake up, it’s still a disruption to our sleep. If you live in a city and cannot avoid noise whilst you sleep, then white noise would be your best option.
8. Wake up without an alarm, if possible: Your alarm jolts you out of your sleep, and prompts the fight or flight response. On the contrary, when we wake up without an alarm, we still feel a bit sleepy and may want to lie in bed and relax for a bit. We may even feel groggy or worse than when we get woken up by our alarm; that’s because our body is telling us, “I’m tired, I’m not ready to wake up, stay in bed, I need more rest!” However, once you eventually wake up, you’re up and ready to go for the day.
9. Spend money on a good mattress, pillow, & blankets: We’ve all experienced the pull-out mattress with the bar that goes across the middle of our back, or the uncomfortable pillow that gives us a stiff neck. “The better the bed, the better the pillow, the better the sheets, the better the blanket, the better your sleep will be … Spend money on that stuff, [because] it is a price equals quality type [of] thing.” (Bergeron, 2018, 00:28:45)
10. Track the quality & quantity of your sleep: “Anything that gets measured, gets improved. If you track your workouts, your performance in the gym will go up, if you track what you eat, your nutrition will get better, if you track your sleep, as strange as it is … it will improve.” Bergeron, 2018, 00:30:25) Starting out it can simply be something like having a personal journal to track the number of hours you slept, and rating the quality of your sleep on a scale of 1 – 10. If you want to go more in depth, then there’s a whole host of wearable technology that will track various metrics such as your heart rate, recoverability, and HRV (Heart Rate Variability).
These 10 principles were first suggested by Ben Bergeron (Bergeron, 2018).
We don’t believe in perfection; we believe in excellence . You can attempt all 10 principles with excellence, that means being intentional, taking action, and taking responsibility for each principle. We suggest doing an honest review to see how you stack up in each one, then begin to address one principle at a time, until it is being done with excellence. Move onto the next principle, and repeat this process with all 10.
If you’re looking for a professional coach to help you on your health & fitness journey, please do contact us
10 Principles for Better Sleep (2018) YouTube Video, added by Ben Bergeron [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnXqOe1IFr4 [Accessed: 29 November 2019].
(2019) ‘Stages of Sleep and Sleep Cycles’, Tuck, 10 October. Available at: https://www.tuck.com/stages/ (Accessed: 3 December 2019).