Are you getting enough? Part 2 – Sleep, sex and other entertainment

Following on from my post last week about creating a pre-bedroom routine to help you get a better nights sleep; here is the next part covering what to do in the bedroom.

  1. Sleep and sex – Our bedrooms should be reserved for activities related to the bedroom.  That does not mean using the laptop or tablet to check on work or facebook or watching the TV; as mentioned in the ‘Are you getting enough?‘ post, the light stimulation alone will affect the quality of sleep you get.  Having a space and routine that is dedicated to relaxation and a little “loving” will improve the quality of both.  And everybody knows that a bit of horizontal jogging is pretty much a sleep switch for most men :).
  2. Other entertainment – If you struggle to switch off in the evening, read.  Just nothing too serious or gripping, I love the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child but found I couldn’t put them down and would often be awake until midnight reading.  Stick to light fiction or a magazine, that way you can simply finish the article and turn the lights off.
  3. Don’t read using a tablet or anything backlit (like the new generation of e-readers), stick with real paper or the original Kindle type e-books that aren’t backlit.
  4. Stay cool – This relates to the light / dark cycles I wrote about in the last post.  The temperature naturally drops during the evening as the sun goes down; as a result our bodies have adapted to see this as a time to sleep.  Keep the room cool by having a window slightly open (not if security is an issue) or switching the heating off earlier.  If you get cold, wear socks or snuggle in to the duvet.  If you are too warm your body will want to wake up as it thinks the sun is starting to rise.
  5. Move to the ‘Dark Side’ – Fit blackout blinds or curtains and remove anything that emits artificial light from your bedroom.  Sleeping in complete darkness can improve the quality of the sleep you get, particularly in the summer when the sun starts to rise really early.  Blackout blinds will prevent any artificial street light keeping you awake too.
  6. Switch off, part 2 – Ideally don’t have anything electronic in the bedroom but if you do switch off at the plug before getting in to bed.  Charge your phone when you get home from work rather than over night and leave it outside of the bedroom.  If you use your phone as an alarm, switch it to airport mode and put it at least 3 feet away from you.  If you have wi-fi, switch it off at night.
  7. Modern technology has made our lives easier in many ways but also bombards us with electromagnetic fields, which can interfere with the quality of sleep you get.
  8. Stretch – Modern life puts many stresses upon the body, particularly if you spend much of the day seated.  Have a little stretch before you get in to bed, nothing strenuous, just a little release.  Focus on your low back, chest and the front of your thighs and hips.
  9. Breathe – If you struggle to get to sleep, having a breathing routine can help.  My wife, Fran, recently wrote about how her Pilates class participants have much better quality sleep following her classes.  This is partly due to the relaxation from the class but also the depth of breath and the oxygen flow around the body.  I’ll write more about this soon.
  10. Get a big one – Bed that is.  Get the biggest bed you can comfortably fit in your room.  As much as you love your partner, wriggling and moving at night has an effect on the quality of sleep you both get.  The bigger your bed, the more space you have, I know of couples that sleep separately and read a report recently that this is becoming increasingly popular as lack of sleep was affecting the quality of their relationships.

Try implementing a couple of the above tips and see how it affects the quality of sleep you get.  In part 3 of this series on sleep I will write about what to do if you wake up during the night and a morning routine that will ensure you feel great for the whole day.

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