Lack of sleep has been associated with everything from chronic pain states, decreased concentration/problem solving, and longer recovery periods for injuries. Needless to say, quality and quantity of sleep is very important!
1) Limit the amount of screen time an hour before bed
- blue light from phones/tablets has been linked with difficulty sleeping and poor sleep quality
- if you have android, you're in luck, use the app screen filter to reduce blue light and read away!
- iOS, not so lucky, although studies show turning down the brightness to lowest setting and holding the device 2 feet away from you at an angle similarly reduces blue light
- I love coffee! However, if I have a cup after dinner I toss and turn for several hours at night
- if this sounds like you and you have a habit of drinking 2-3 cups/day, try decreasing by 1 cup and see what happens
3) Prepare your bed!
- Check out this Physio Answers post I wrote a while back on different and supportive sleep positions
- many who toss and turn or have pain at night have found the positions very comfortable
4) Exercise regularly
- regular activity, especially in the afternoon has been associated with better sleep
- some experts say not to exercise at night, but some have said that it helps them sleep
- regardless, if you have difficulty sleeping or falling asleep at night, try something new with your exercise routine, either change the time, or start exercising more (possibly less)
5) Get a good evening routine going
- I learned the value of a evening routine upon having a kid that did not sleep very well as a baby
- the same holds true for adults, don't expect to be able to fall asleep easily after exercising heavily, then spending an hour on facebook with the lights on
- listen to relaxing music, and start your wind down 1 to 1.5 hours prior to the time that gets you your ideal number of hours of sleep
There are a number of "life hacks" that improve sleep quality, but these are some of my favorites. Sleep quality is something I go after on patients that are having difficulty keeping their improvements between visits or are unable to return to training.