We liked this short video from the TED series Sleeping with Science. Here, renowned sleep expert Mathew Walker, author of the bestseller “Why We Sleep,” breaks down 6 scientifically-grounded building blocks towards better sleep. Before you think of “enhancing” your sleep with supplements or other products, make sure you have the basics covered first:
1. Regularity is king
First off, Walker highly recommends keeping a consistent schedule for when you go to sleep and wake up. The science shows that our internal 24-hour clock needs regularity in order to function optimally.
Pro tip: you probably use an alarm to wake up. You should also use one to remind you to go to bed. If you do this, you will boost the quality and quantity of your sleep.
2. Keep it cool
According to studies, your brain and your body need to lower their core temperature by about 1-degree Celsius (or 3 degrees Fahrenheit) in order to initiate sleep and to stay asleep. Walker suggests that the ideal ambient temperature for this to happen is about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. That might sound cold, but you should try it!
3. Make sure it's dark.
You need darkness to trigger the production of melatonin, the brain chemical associated with initiating the onset of sleep. Therefore, making your room darker about an hour before you go to bed is essential for better sleep. Whether that means installing blackout shades in your room or using a sleep mask, less light leads to better sleep. Remember also toavoid blue light before bedtime.
4. Walk It Out
Contrary to popular belief, Walker recommends getting out of bed if you are having trouble falling asleep or if you wake in the middle of the night. He says that going for a walk around your home until you feel sleepy again is a good strategy to prevent your brain from associating your bed with the inability to sleep.
5. Watch your coffee & alcohol consumption
This one is no surprise, but the suggestion is to not drink coffee in the evenings or even afternoons for better quality sleep. Additionally, going to bed under heavy alcohol influence isn’t conducive to the greatest rest either. We’ve all been there.
6. Pimp your wind-down routine
You can’t summon sleep at the click of a button. The onset of sleep is a gradual process. Dr. Walker suggests having a period of 30 minutes or so before going to bed where you reduce the light in your room, cut off screens, and do something that relaxes you. Having this ramp-down period will help you go to sleep faster and increase the quality of sleep.
What You Can Do
We love this video, because all of the recommendations are basic, easy to apply, and mostly free. If any of these 6 pillars for better sleep is missing in your nightly routine, you should try them. The next step is to start tracking your sleep with a wearable like theOura ring or Whoop.