6 Ways to Improve Your Sleep Quality and Wake up Energised
Sleep is the body’s time to rejuvenate, restore, and refuel. Without enough of it, your body can become vulnerable to a number of abnormalities, from low mood and increased appetite to poor cognitive functioning and compromised immunity.
In recent years, ‘sleep’ has become a buzzword in the health and wellness field, with many experts offering ‘hacks’ to achieve a more restful sleep. But with so much information available, it can be hard to know where to turn or whom to trust. To help clear things up a little, we’ll break down 8 ways to improve your sleep quality and wake up energised.
Take in the morning sunlight
While it may seem paradoxical, good sleep begins the moment you wake up. In addition to your usual morning ritual, you should dedicate some time to flooding your brain with natural sunlight. Beyond making us feel alert and energised, exposure to the sun also prepares the body for quality sleep at night by calibrating your 24-hour internal body clock, otherwise known as your circadian rhythm.
Research has shown that those exposed to greater amounts of light in the morning — between 8 am and noon — fall asleep quicker compared to those exposed to significantly less natural light in the morning.i As such, try to get at least 20-minutes of direct, unprotected sun every morning. Why not have your morning cup of coffee out in the garden, or get off the bus half a mile early for a sunny stroll?
Enjoy caffeine before midday
Caffeine is widely known to prevent sleep. This is because caffeine blocks the body’s capacity to recognise adenosine — a chemical which helps to promote sleep.3 It also takes 6-7 hours for just half of your caffeine intake to be excreted from the body, so if you have a coffee after lunch, there’s a strong chance half of the caffeine will still be circulating your brain when you’re trying to fall asleep. Indeed, one 2013 study found that participants who were given approximately 4 cups of coffee, anywhere from 0-6 hours before bed, experienced sleep disturbances.ii
So, if you enjoy a daily cup of coffee, make a conscious effort to consume it before midday. After this watershed, swap to non-caffeinated beverages and herbals teas instead.
Regular exercise is widely accepted by experts as one way to improve sleep quality . Not only is it a helpful tool to manage anxiety and low mood — which often disrupt sleep in their own right — but it also supports rest thanks to its body-heating effects. Physical activity leads to an increase in body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature can contribute to a better night’s sleep.iii
Try exercising for 30-minutes on most days of the week. Be careful not to work out too close to bedtime, however. This is because the body-heating effects may prevent you from sleeping. For more info on this, read our guide on relaxing exercises to promote sleep.
Don’t eat too late
It’s generally agreed that late-night eating is bad for sleep. Besides causing acid reflux, constipation, and bloating — uncomfortable symptoms that can prevent you from falling asleep — certain foods such as sugar and saturated fats can also interrupt your sleep cycles.v Discover a full list of foods that keep you awake at night for advice on what to avoid.
Always leave between 2 to 3 hours after your last meal before going to bed. This allows enough time for digestion to take place and the food in your belly to move into your small intestine.
Meditation is a powerful tool to facilitate sleep. This simple practice encourages you to be less in your head and more grounded in the present moment, which can be effective at managing anxiety and stress before bed. There’s a growing raft of empirical evidence to suggest meditation promotes slower breathing and lowers the heart rate, easing the body into relaxation and promoting better sleep.vi
To start your sleep meditation, lie on your back, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and encourage the body to slow down. If you need help getting started, why not try these 6 mindfulness and relaxation techniques to help you sleep.
Aromatherapy through essential oils has long played a role in sleep and relaxation. Lavender, in particular, is widely touted for supporting sleep because it can help you de-stress before bed. A study discovered that subjects who inhaled lavender for two minutes at three, 10-minute intervals before bedtime improved their sleep quality and felt more energised when they woke up.vii For easy inhalation, why not diffuse essential oils through a reed diffuser, make a DIY lavender pillow spray, or add a few drops to a warm bath.
We know that modern life has its stressors, but the simple strategies above should help give you the energy needed to tackle them head on. If you’re eager to discover even more ways to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep, visit our sleep hub.
Figueiro. M., Steverson. B., Heerwagen. J., Kampschroer. K., Hunter. C., Gonzales. K., Plitnick. B. & Rea. M.(2017). The impact of daytime light exposures on sleep and mood in office workers. Sleep Health. 3(3), 204-215.
Drake. C., Roehrs. T., Shambroom. J. & Roth. T. (2013). Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
Dolezal. B.A., Neufeld. E.V., Boland. D.M., Martin. J.L. & Cooper. C.B.(2017). Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review. Advances in preventive medicine. 2017, 1364387.
Tuck Sleep. (2019). How Sleep Affects Digestion, Heartburn, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Available online: https://www.tuck.com/gastrointestinal-issues-and-sleep
Crispim. C., Zimberg. I., dos Reis. B., Diniz. R., Tufik. S. & de Mello. M. (2011). Relationship between Food Intake and Sleep Pattern in Healthy Individuals. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
Zhao. Z.C., Zhou. Y., Tan. G. & Li. J. (2018). Research progress about the effect and prevention of blue light on eyes. International journal of ophthalmology.11(12), 1999–2003.
Russo. M.A., Santarelli. D.M. & O'Rourke. D. (2017). The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human. Breathe (Sheffield, England). 13(4), 298–309.
Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.