Become A Super Sleeper: 10 Tips On How To Improve Sleep

Introduction

You sleep at the end of every day, so you probably think you’re pretty good at it. Think again. Many of us take sleep for granted and don’t practice the tips below, which have been proven to improve your sleep experience and turn you into a super sleeper. Super sleepers get the most out of their sleep while still remaining efficient and productive, so you can enjoy your awake time and your sleeping time without mixing the two.

If that’s what you want for yourself, this guide has all the tips you should follow to get there. You’ll find sections on the following tips below:

  1. Keep In Sync With Your Body
  2. Design A Restful Environment
  3. Pick The Perfect Pillow
  4. Perfect Positioning
  5. Stop Scrolling Before Bed
  6. Problematic Pets
  7. Destress & Declutter
  8. Embark Exercising
  9. Healthy Diet = Healthy Sleep!
  10. Cut Down Caffeine

Those ten tips cover every aspect of life, so you can address where you’re going wrong and achieve super sleep! We’ve included references to support these tips, so you can be sure the information is accurate and presented with your best interests in mind.

Sleep Deprivation & Deficiency: A Connection

Before we get into the ten tips that can help us achieve super sleep, you should know about sleep deprivation and deficiency. If you’ve found yourself here, you may be having problems when sleeping and that’s causing tiredness during the day. Sleep deprivation can harm your life, so properly diagnosing and treating it is important!

Sleep Deprivation: When Individuals Aren’t Sleeping Properly

Sleep deprivation can best be described as when individuals aren’t sleeping properly. This deprives you of valuable sleep that then has wider consequences in your life.

What causes sleep deprivation? Well, there are several things:

  • You’re just not getting enough sleep.
  • You’re sleeping at the wrong times of day, so you’re out of sync with your body clock.
  • You don’t sleep well and/or experience different types of sleep.
  • There are compounding sleep disorders that prevent you from sleeping or getting high-quality sleep.

You may be thinking of insomnia right now but many sleep scientists distinguish between them. This is because insomniacs often have a good sleep schedule but, when they lay down to sleep, they physically cannot fall asleep. Sleep deprivation is better used to describe when certain behaviors or conditions stop somebody from developing a good sleep schedule in the first place.

For example, a classic and all too common case of sleep deprivation comes from overworked people chasing deadlines. They’ll forgo sleep on weekdays and catch up on weekends. If they had insomnia, they’d still struggle to sleep even when they have the perfect opportunity to do so. Sometimes they overlap, so check yourself for insomnia and consult the relevant doctor or sleep specialist for more information.

Knowing exactly how much sleep you should get can be difficult – it’s not like schools teach it – so check out the table below:

Age Hours of sleep
Hours of sleep“>
12-16 Hours w/ Naps
Hours of sleep“>
11-14 Hours w/ Naps
Hours of sleep“>
10-13 Hours w/ Naps
Hours of sleep“>
9-12 Hours
Hours of sleep“>
8-10 Hours
Hours of sleep“>
7+ Hours

A Disorder That Prevents You From Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep deprivation has many negative effects that go far beyond feeling tired.

Acute sleep deprivation is where your sleeplessness lasts for short periods. In the world of sleep, that’s a maximum of a few days.

Chronic sleep deprivation is a deeper diagnosis where your sleep is being curtailed for longer periods, often more than three months.

So why aren’t people getting enough sleep? Here are some of the common lifestyle causes:

  • Work, particularly shift work and meeting deadlines.
  • Noisy or warm/cold sleeping environments.
  • Caring for another person, like a child, during the night.
  • Using electronic devices before you try sleeping, especially if they’re in the bedroom.

While lifestyle causes are very common, there are medical diagnoses that can also cause sleep deprivation. Here are some of the most common and recognizable of those medical conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Bruxism, better known as tooth grinding
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Depression
  • Narcolepsy
  • Obesity
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Substance misuse

If you suffer from any of these issues, you have a vested interest in battling sleep deprivation. Conquering sleep deprivation will help with the disorders that are causing them.

Sleep Is Important: It’s A Basic Need And Vital For Good Health

It can’t be understated how important sleep is for our health. It’s the natural rejuvenation process for the human body, so not getting enough sleep has negative effects on your life quality, physical health, mental health, and day-to-day safety.

On the physical level, sleep heals, repairs, and replaces the cells of your heart and blood vessels. If you have sleep deficiency and don’t do anything about it, you can experience heart disease, kidney diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure, which increases your chances of stroke.

On the hormonal level, sleep keeps a delicate balance between the substances in your body that dictate certain behaviors. For example, sleep has a relationship with ghrelin and leptin, which are the hormones that dictate feelings of hunger and fullness, respectively. This means sleep deprivation can cause obesity and vice versa.

Sleep Deficiency: Leads To Physical/Mental Problems

To talk more about sleep deficiency, we should understand the stages of sleep. If you already know how sleep works, you can skip ahead to our tips below.

Sleep is generally split into two types – REM sleep and non-REM sleep.

REM means Rapid Eye Movement, which is where your pupils move erratically under your closed eyelids. REM sleep is where the brain is most active, so it’s also when all your dreams happen. Non-REM sleep is what we call deep sleep, where you’re completely unconscious and reaping the most benefits from your sleeping experience.

Your sleep is partly dictated by your circadian rhythm. This is a 24-hour cycle where every cell in your body knows (or thinks they know) what time it is. If you’re sleeping too much during the day, this so-called body clock will make you sleepy during the daytime and wide awake during the small hours of the night.

Keep In Sync With Your Body

Having mentioned the circadian rhythm, that’s where our first tip comes in! By taming your body clock so that you’re awake and productive during the day and sleepy during the evenings, you won’t need to force a healthy sleep schedule.

Get In Sync With Your Body’s Natural Sleep Cycle

Your natural sleep cycle uses events during your day to gauge how alert you should be. When you have a bad sleep cycle, you’ve conditioned your body to get sleepy during the day because of certain behaviors and bad habits you’re doing.

Exposure to different lights signals alertness in the brain, something we’ve talked about later when it comes to using electronics in the bedroom. Then, as night falls and the world gets darker, the same body clock produces melatonin to make you more relaxed.

Sleep And Get Up The Same Time Every Day

Consistency is key when you’re teaching your body a new sleeping routine. Every time you wake up and go to bed, your internal clock recognizes the timing. This means you need to set a bedtime. That’ll ensure an easier transition into the sleep schedule because falling asleep will be easier, you won’t toss and turn, etc.

So, try to wake up and go to bed at the same time. When planning to wake up at the same time every day, you’ll probably use an alarm clock. They’re useful but they can also limit your sleep efforts and tempt you to sleep in. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally. You can also train yourself to wake up without an alarm.

Always Avoid Sleeping In

Needless to say, you should resist the temptation to sleep in. Not only does this harm your sleep schedule, but it can also create a kind of jetlag in your day-to-day life. If you need to catch up on sleep, you’re better off napping during the day than sleeping in during the mornings.

Nap Only 15-20 Minutes

When you nap, be smart about it. A nap is a great tool in your arsenal for making up for lost sleep but constant napping will only make things worse. You should limit your naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon to get the most out of them.

Start The Day With A Healthy Breakfast

Start the day right by indulging in a healthy breakfast. There are many benefits to eating breakfast, as we’re sure you’ve heard by now. Part of those benefits is that your biological clock remembers when you eat. This kickstarts your metabolism and starts a lot of other biological processes, too.

Fight After-Dinner Drowsiness

After you get a square meal, you may be tempted to sleep early. If you’re ever sleepy before bedtime, it’s a good idea to jump up and get moving. Do chores around the home to keep you active so that you don’t fall asleep. Giving in to the drowsiness means you’ll wake up later in the night and your whole schedule will be disrupted.

Design A Restful Environment

Take an extra look at your bedroom. Where you sleep is just as important as how you sleep, so you should design a restful environment that promotes healthy, undisturbed rest.

Design A Room That Is Cool, Dark, And Quiet

Cool, dark, and quiet are the three main qualities that are ideal for your home. It is widely agreed that the ideal temperature is approximately 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Many also agree that the darker the room, the better. That said, not everybody likes to have a pitch-black room, so a dim room is good enough for most people.

As for quietness, you can go with silence or some kind of ambient noise. Some people prefer to sleep while listening to white noise or other ambient sounds that can block out horns and traffic. If you’re in urban environments, having something to block out other noises is useful.

Use Room-Darkening Shades, Earplugs

You can get many apps on your smartphone that’ll play ambient noises or other relaxing sounds to help you fall asleep. If you’d prefer full quietness, you should invest in earplugs that are effective but comfortable.

As for light, you can replace your curtains and other awnings with thicker, light-absorbing variants that ensure less light makes its way into your room. If darkening the room isn’t possible for whatever reason, you can even wear shades so you can sleep.

Pick The Perfect Pillow

Next, turn your attention to the pillow you’re using. The pillow is arguably the most important part of the bed since it’s where you rest your head. This means there are physical concerns related to your head, neck, and shoulders that will affect sleep.

Pillow Fill Is Important If You Suffer From Allergies

When it comes to what goes inside the pillow, you have a choice between feathers, rayon, foam, or latex. Each of these materials come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Of course, you shouldn’t go for latex if you have an allergy to it. Latex, wool, or cotton are great for those with allergies because they’re naturally hypoallergenic.

Look For Hypoallergenic Pillows

Many swear by hypoallergenic pillows because they prevent congestion and other issues that keep people up at night. If you suffer from an irritated nose when you’re sleeping, it may be because the pillow casings aren’t hypoallergenic.

Perfect Positioning

Before you decide on a pillow, you need to keep your sleep positioning in mind.

Choose A Pillow Depending On Your Sleep Positioning

The key to finding the best pillow, along with a comfortable bed in general, is through trial and error. Try different mattresses, duvets, foam toppers, and pillows until you’re satisfied. Everybody prefers a different level of support, so we can’t say for sure which equipment will help you. Pay attention to your body, if you have a sore back or aches and pains then you need to change your bed setup.

Side Sleeper – Pillows Should Be Comfortable For Your Neck

That said, there are some generalities that we can speak on. First, side sleepers need to pay special attention to how comfortable their pillows are. Pillows that have a mid-level firmness are typically best for side sleepers because they balance between support and contouring of your head and neck. That provides the required pressure release while keeping the neck aligned, so it doesn’t ache.

Consider A Thinner Pillow If You Sleep On Your Back

If you sleep on your back, you won’t need a pillow that’s as thick and supportive. You can get away with a thinner pillow that cradles the back of your head and limits stress on your neck. Pillows that use memory foam are handy too, they’ll mold to your neck’s curvature to support your neck more.

Stop Scrolling Before Bed

When it’s time to sleep, you should give your undivided attention to the task at hand. This gets complicated if that hand is holding a phone or some other electronic device that’s keeping you awake.

Reduce Nighttime Blue Light Exposure

As we’re sure you know by now, what we call light contains the entire color spectrum. That’s true but there’s another layer here that influences your sleep schedule. Human eyes contain melanopsin, a photopigment that makes our eyes more sensitive to blue light. That blue light exposure is detected by our eyes and used to suppress melatonin in the pineal gland. If you remember from earlier, melatonin is the hormone that keeps us relaxed.

Sunlight is blue light. Guess what else uses blue light? That’s right, phone screens, along with other electronic screens. This means that using your phone in bed is beaming wake-up signals directly into your brain!

Stop Using Electronic Devices Before Going To Bed

Now that you know about blue light exposure, you should limit your use of electronic devices before going to bed. We’re all guilty of using our phones when in bed at some point but this is only harming your ability to sleep well.

Stop Watching TV 2 Hours Before Bedtime

Watching television also affects your sleep in a way you may not know. While using your phone in bed is more obvious, television can affect your sleep performance in subtle ways hours after you’ve stopped watching it. That’s why you should step away from televisions and other screens a full two hours before you go to bed.

Problematic Pets

For our next tip, let’s talk about pets and the problems they can pose when invited into the bedroom. It’s a bad idea, read why in more detail below.

Some Individuals Sleep With Their Pet At Night

You shouldn’t sleep with your pet in your bed. In most cases, that’ll be your dog or your cat, but other exotic pets shouldn’t be kept in the bed either. First of all, they’ll move around at night and disturb your sleep. Even if they settle properly, they’ll still disrupt your sleep with their stirrings.

Can Trigger Allergies By Bringing Pollen Into Your Bed, Disturbing Sleep

Besides their night movements, pets will also disturb your sleep through allergies. Even if you don’t have a specific allergy to your pet type (which is unlikely, when they’re your pet) then you’ll still have to contend with hairs and fur that create an itchy and unwelcoming environment for human bodies. If the dog has been outside, dander and pollen can get carried into your bed too, triggering hay fever and other related allergies.

Avoid Sharing A Bed With Your Pets

Lastly, you should avoid sharing a bed with your pets because you might end up sharing it with something else! Scrappy dogs who spend a lot of time outside can easily pick up fleas and other small parasites that’ll make their way into your bed.

Fleas and lice are a nightmare to purge from your bedding once they’ve made their way in, so the surest way to avoid them is to not allow the pet into your bed at all. If setting boundaries for your pet is difficult, you should ask your veterinarian or a local animal trainer for advice on how to teach them restraint and independence.

Destress & Declutter

You may have heard that our rooms reflect the state of our minds. This means that a messy room often signifies disorganization in our lives, leading to more stress and anxiety. That can make sleeping a chore, so let’s take a look at how you can relax and free your home from clutter.

Bathe Before Bedtime

First, bathe before bedtime. This can mark the start of your end-of-day ritual, where you take a warm bath/shower to relax your body, lower your blood pressure, and put the mind at ease. Bathing can take as long as you want it to. Spend one to two hours bathing and prepping for bed, which is also the time window for avoiding TV screens, so it’s convenient.

Read A Book

Since you can’t reach for your phone or the TV remote, you should read a book instead! If reading isn’t your strong suit, you can get audiobooks from Kindle that can be narrated to you. If the narrator’s voice relaxes you and releases more melatonin, all the better!

Try Gentle Yoga Poses

If you have experience with yoga, trying some gentle poses before bed can help you sleep. Yoga is also a handy practice to stay toned and become more relaxed, so it’s a good idea to learn some poses anyway. By relieving tension from your body, you’ll have a looser, uninhibited sleep that’ll be more enjoyable.

Practice Meditation & Mindfulness

Check out mindfulness and meditation services like Headspace. Listening to videos covering news and other hot-button subjects can be stressful, especially in such unprecedented times, so you should take a more relaxing approach to your aural entertainment. Meditation sets the mood of the evening as being relaxed and low-pressure, so your stress gets reduced.

Declutter Your Bedroom

As we said, your mind is often thought to be reflected in its surroundings. This means you should declutter your room and keep it organized. This is something practiced in business circles too. The logic is that less clutter = fewer thoughts about your environment and fewer decisions to be made. That’s also why so many entrepreneurs wear the same outfits. When it’s applied to your room, you’ll have better focus when awake and, when sleepy, you can rest easier.

Try Not To Read/Send Emails After Dinner

Create a cut-off point after which you won’t read or send communications related to your job. This is important now that everybody has had a dose of working from home. You need to draw a strict line between your work and your personal life, so don’t carry work obligations into your free time and invite more stress into your life.

Embark Exercising

Moving around is the best way to tire yourself out. When you’re tired, you fall asleep easier, it’s that simple! Here’s how you should factor physical activity into your day-to-day life.

Exercise During The Day

Like any other physical and productive activity, you should exercise during the day when your mind and body are at their most responsive. Remember that keeping a regular schedule is good too, so get a workout routine and stick to it. Don’t work out too late into the day, there should be at least three to four hours between your exercise and you going to bed. Your exercise doesn’t even need to be intense – ten minutes of walking around your neighborhood can improve sleep quality.

Improves Insomnia

If you have insomnia, exercise is part of your arsenal to fight it. The symptoms of insomnia are improved by regularly exercising, the main one being that you’ll spend longer in deeper, non-REM sleep states. This means you’ll be more satisfied with the sleep that you do get. Aerobic exercise in particular seems to help the symptoms of both insomnia and sleep apnea.

Improves Sleep Quality

So, how does exercise improve sleep quality? Besides easing the symptoms of poor sleep conditions, the outburst of adrenaline and epinephrine that we experience when we exercise is soon followed by doses of endorphins. You’ve likely heard of those before, they’re the chemicals we create to relieve stress and pain. If there’s one thing that gives you a better night’s sleep, it’s something that’s compared to opioids!

Healthy Diet = Healthy Sleep!

As we wind down our tips on becoming a super sleeper, you should start paying attention to what you’re eating. You are what you eat and that old saying applies to sleep too! Some foods will make you lazier, sleepier, and less consistent, so avoid those.

Eat A Mediterranean Diet

Many of the foods that are eaten as part of the Mediterranean diet encourage the production of melatonin, serotonin, and vitamin D, all of which enhance your natural sleep patterns.

What foods are part of a Mediterranean diet?

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Fish
  • Seafood
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Potatoes
  • Whole grains
  • Bread
  • Herbs
  • Spices
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Cut Down On Sugary Foods

You should avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar. There are four reasons why:

  1. Harms Your Gut: Our gut microbiomes are regulated by the circadian rhythm, so changes to the gut may influence behavioral changes in your sleep.
  2. Increases Inflammation: Similarly, inflammatory reactions also seem linked to circadian rhythm. Inflammation brings cytokines and too many of them will disturb your sleep instead of properly regulating it.
  3. Stimulates Cravings: It’s well known that sugar increases your cravings. This can reduce the effectiveness of leptin and insulin. That’ll cause late-night eating and will lead to a cycle of sleeplessness, during which your leptin and ghrelin levels will suffer.
  4. Reduces Sleep Quality: Last, the general quality of your sleep will suffer. Diets that consume more fat and sugar content make you take longer to fall asleep and cause you to spend less time in restorative non-REM sleep.

Stop Smoking

Nicotine is a powerful stimulant that will stop you from sleeping. If you have insomnia, it’ll only make it worse. Quitting smoking is a difficult thing to do, being an addiction and all, so you may want to ask your doctor or a qualified expert for help on overcoming it and removing this barrier to healthy sleep.

Avoid Alcohol/Eating Before Bed

You don’t just have to watch what you eat; you should also watch when you eat. Try not to eat after around 7 PM or 8 PM and, if you do, make sure it isn’t a heavy meal. Light snacks like cereal or crackers are ideal instead. Stay away from alcohol too. It’ll make you drowsy but those effects soon wear off and, when they do, you’ll wake up a lot throughout the night.

Cut Down Caffeine

Lastly, cut down on how much caffeine you consume. You can still take caffeine but you should avoid it after 12 PM. Avoid it in foods and drinks at all costs, opt for a morning coffee to wake you up instead. Remember that chocolate and pain pills contain caffeine, so check the labels. Even small amounts of caffeine can create sleeping problems 12 hours later.

Summary: The Start Of Being A Super Sleeper!

With that, we have reached the end of our ten tips on how to become a super sleeper. By putting all of these tips into effect, you should notice your sleep steadily improving. You’ll sleep for longer while feeling more refreshed when you get up in the mornings, and you’ll only sleep when you need to, so you’ll have a lot more downtime to pursue hobbies and other personal projects.

Improving your sleep is a process that takes time, especially if you’re overhauling every aspect of your life. Don’t pressure yourself to change too much at once and check back here to make sure you’re on track. It may take some time to build the good habits required but it’s definitely worth it to achieve super sleeper status.