by Tony Gjokaj March 07, 2020 6 min read
One in three adults don't get enough sleep. ONE. IN. THREE.
That's insane, especially when sleep deprivation negatively impacts our health and hormones. Here are a few facts you need to know about sleep deprivation:
Since sleep deprivation could be a result of poor sleeping habits, we wanted to provide you with a few strategies you can implement to improve your quality of sleep.
Recall that at Reforged, we believe we can strongly influence habits by taking control of our mornings and evenings through consistent positive habits, or a consistent ritual. In this post, we are going to show you strategies that you can use in the morning and evening that will improve your sleep.
Without further ado, let's dive in!
These are strategies you can do either when you wake up or during the early parts of your day. These strategies will both, directly and indirectly, improve sleep quality.
When I was overweight and did not exercise, I had a pretty insomnia. Typically, I would only get about 4-5 hours of sleep daily. Once I started exercising, however, my sleep jumped up to 7-8 on average.
What's interesting is that if you're sleep-deprived, you most likely won't want to exercise. This will impact our consistency in the gym, which actually promotes sleep.
Research has proven that exercising consistently at a specific time of the day promotes sleep.
However, what about in the evening? It has been shown that exercising in the evening can disrupt circadian rhythm for sleep. If however, you exercise in the evening a couple hours before bed consistently, it will actually improve sleep.
All in all, whether it's weight training, cardio, yoga, etc, do it consistently and you will improve your sleep in the long term.
Go outside and get fresh air: sunlight gives you Vitamin D!
Vitamin D produces serotonin in your brain which helps with our mood and well-being. While serotonin and melatonin are on opposite ends of the spectrum, there's a correlation between low Vitamin D and Sleep quality. In fact, individuals with a deficiency in Vitamin D typically suffer from poor quality of sleep AND the number of hours they sleep.
Make sure you're getting some sun, and if not, supplement with Vitamin D to improve your quality of sleep.
It's common for someone to ask me why they can't sleep... only to realize they had a Starbucks Coffee at 8pm.
We've mentioned this before, and because sleep deprivation is a huge issue in our society. STOP drinking your caffeine in the late afternoons or evenings before bed. It will easily impact your sleep quality.
Caffeine can impact your sleep for as much as six hours. Read the study here.
Caffeine promotes wakefulness, and the effects can last for hours at the time. Limit your caffeine intake to first thing in the morning and early afternoons, and power through the rest.
If you feel like you need more energy, supplement with nootropics for some brainpower!
These strategies are evening ones that you typically can implement 1-2 hours before bed. These will directly improve your sleep quality.
Something so simple as a consistent sleep schedule can improve your sleep drastically. According to research, your quality of sleep is typically poorer when you have a lack of a consistent sleep schedule - despite if your duration of sleep is the same.
Going to bed at the same time each night builds consistency AND allows you to fall asleep a lot quicker.
If you're sleeping at random hours daily because of choice or work, try to make it a to set up a consistent work schedule or plan out a span of hours that you can typically sleep at.
When I used to work at an Airport job, the hours were all over the place, so I requested a specific schedule. If at times I couldn't get that specific schedule, I would've had ones that would allow me to sleep around the same time: around 1-2 hours of the time I typically fell asleep. I needed my sleep!
Try eliminating all blue light within two hours of sleep time.
In the evening, your phone is the enemy. According to research, blue lights from your phone actually affected sleep by not making you sleepy enough before bed. As a result, you're looking at your phone longer, which will affect your quantity of sleep.
If you have read some of our habit-building articles, you know putting food away from reach or view will improve your healthy habits. You can do the same with your phone: plug it in the charger and put it on the opposite end of the room.
"Tony, I have an alarm on my phone." Well that's great! Now you actually have to wake up the next morning and move to turn it off. You just developed two more positive habits!
Since we typically can't resist our phones or computers at times (I still have a problem with this at times), one solution is to set up night shift on our phones, and f.lux on our computers. Night shift is built-in iPhones, and f.lux is an app you can download online.
As a last resort, you can buy and wear some blue-light-blocking glasses, which have been shown to improve sleep in some.
Now although blue light is an enemy in the evening, you should essentially eliminate all artificial lights in your room before bed. Any form of light will impact sleep, so a pitch dark room is the way to go.
Melatonin is a signaler that's produced in our bodies when it's dark out. Our body produces it when we are absent of light: sunlight and artificial.
If you haven't been able to sleep properly and you have eliminated all lights in your vicinity, you can try a Melatonin supplement. Melatonin supplements have been shown to improve sleep quality and help with insomnia, making it a great supplement to have in your arsenal.
Supplementing with as little as 500mcg-1mg has been shown to improve sleep. At times, individuals have used as much as 5mg, which we do not recommend for frequent use.
Melatonin supplements should only be used if you have developed a consistent sleep schedule: they should be circumstantial in that you want to use it to improve your quality of sleep for a brief period, or you expect to sleep less because of life getting a little more intense.
Remember, supplements only amplify who you are: if your sleep is poor, focus on your sleeping habits first before implementing a supplement.
We all have an evening ritual: we either are aware or unaware of it.
There it is, everything that our Reforge Yourself series is about: controlling your morning and evening schedules through rituals.
We call our evening rituals "Fall Rituals" because this is the time where we unwind and prepare for the next day.
With fall rituals, we typically focus on soothing ourselves rather than stimulating ourselves. This is where we introduce some form of exercise hours before bed, followed by yoga, meditation, and/or reading.
As mentioned before, exercise should be done hours before bed so that you may shower and unwind afterward. Meditation or reading before bed can get your mind right, so long as they're sessions of relaxation: reading a fantasy book or spiritual/philosophical book is highly recommended.
Journaling is not so bad here either!
In doing so, you reduce your chances of grabbing your phone and focus more on relaxing your body and mind. On top of that, you prepare yourself with a consistent sleep schedule which will improve your sleep quality.
This is habit momentum at its best, and crafting an evening ritual is arguably easier than crafting a morning one!
The phoenix must burn before it rises.
We embrace the cycle of the phoenix daily.
Sleep consistency is typically one of the most difficult habits people have a problem with, and it's mainly because we aren't typically informed on how to improve sleep quality.
Now if we can implement these successfully, we can share this with others, and they too will be able to get great sleep.
If there's you would like to add, or any tips that have helped you sleep better, throw them in the comments below!
With better sleep, we can all make better decisions, build better habits, and be healthier.
1% improvements everyday.
Until next time, legion!
Tony is the Owner of Reforged Performance Nutrition. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help bridge the gap between physical & mental health through fitness.
by Tony Gjokaj October 10, 2021 2 min read
When I first started working out, it was because I was depressed and overweight.
I wanted more out of my life, so I started with the intention to lose weight.
At first, it was very difficult for me to get into the gym because I would always think about the pain it would be, and hated that I didn't see immediate results.
I did, however, feel the results.
My mood got better, I was able to sleep better, and I made better eating choices.
I didn't follow a diet, I just focused on eating more fruits, vegetables, and leaner proteins like chicken.
It took me a few months, but the results became more visible.
Then I was hooked.
by Tony Gjokaj October 04, 2021 1 min read
Today I wanted to introduce you to the Reforge Yourself 30 Day Mental Health Habit Challenge (A mouthful)!
In this challenge, you will complete 5 small tasks per day which essentially help you build some habits that will improve your health.
Rise to a greater potential.
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