Sleep better and boost your energy

Sleep better and boost your energy


As someone who has been a notoriously poor sleeper most of my life, I find it very easy to see how easily poor sleep quality can affect people’s everyday lives. Poor sleep can affect everything from your energy levels to your willpower, and from talking with large groups of people over the years, I’ve noticed that a large amount of people have very poor sleep fitness.
  We waste time falling asleep and spend hours in a light sleep state, which doesn’t have the same body and brain boosting benefits of deep and REM sleep. In the past, I would spend an hour trying to fall asleep because my brain wouldn’t stop rehashing the day’s events or would dwell on what was coming up the next day.
  I tried different supplements, going to bed earlier, going to bed later, but I would wake up every morning still groggy. Sleep began to feel like a waste of time. Not only would I lose an hour every night tossing and turning, I wouldn’t feel any fresher in the morning and would feel like a zombie until I had my first cup of coffee.
  I’m not a sleep doctor, but I have spent years trying to figure out why I wasn’t able to sleep better, and this allowed me to learn more about actual sleep quality over sleep quantity. This is determined by how much time you spend in actual REM and delta (deep, restorative) sleep.
  Nutrition and sleep

  Sleep is important because there is actually a direct link between your diet and sleep. What you eat, directly affects how well you sleep. The quality of your sleep also has a dramatic impact on your energy levels. Naturopathic physician and founder of Biohealth Diagnostics in San Diego, California Reed Davis talks about how ‘unless people get to bed by 10:30pm and get a full eight hours of sleep, they’re wasting their money’. His philosophy is based on the ‘circadian cycle’, which is a natural physiological cycle of about 24 hours that persists even in the absence of external cues, i.e. the way we’re designed to sleep based on daylight and nightfall – our body clock so to speak.
  I noticed that on nights when I got five hours sleep or less, I felt groggy and tired and needed caffeine to get me going. Pretty standard, right? But the same thing happened on the nights I got 10 hours sleep or more.
  In contrast, something very interesting happened when I ‘split the difference’ and got seven-and-a-half or eight hours of sleep. I felt great! If I went to bed at 11pm and set an alarm for 6:30am, I found that I normally woke up before my alarm and felt ready for the day. I tested this for three or four months and found that I had more energy through the day and didn’t need a nap (as I had done frequently in previous years) and I could function optimally until about 9:30pm. At this time, I would normally start to unwind for bed.
  Why seven-and-a-half hours?

  We’ve all been told, ‘You need to get at least eight hours of sleep every night’, but why? Admittedly, I try and go to bed for 10:30pm to give myself about half-an-hour to unwind. I normally read something that switches my mind off, and then have lights out for 11:00pm. But I had to ask myself why I feel so much better and have much more energy with seven-and-a-half hours of sleep over, say 10 hours.
  After a couple of hours, we enter the dream state sleep, known as rapid eye movement (REM) stage 1. REM sleep normally occurs 90 minutes after the onset of sleep, according to Dr Patrick Holford, author of Optimum Nutrition for the Mind. If we are sleep deprived, it may occur within 30 minutes.
  We have about four or more REM periods per night, and they go in 90-minute cycles. That’s why if you sleep for seven and half hours and wake up, you feel fresher, as you’ve finished that ‘cycle’ and your body finds it easier to wake up. If you wake up after 10 hours, you’re mid-way through a cycle, which is why you feel tired, groggy and need a ‘kick’ just to get going the next morning.
  Given that it is an essential way of resting, recharging and nourishing both your body and mind, sustained, unbroken sleep and dreaming are a part of our lifestyles that determine the quality of our lives and our health.
  If you’re living in a state of high performance, such as studying, training, working or are a full-time parent, then sleep should be a conscious act, not something that just happens. You have the power to take care of specific factors to make sure you’re tired when you decide to sleep. This includes eating the right food at the right times, taking certain supplements and minimising the use of technology that upsets your body’s melatonin production.