Last month we wrote about evening routines, specifically looking at how as we believe your morning routine starts the night before. The way you spend your time before going to bed can have a positive effect on your morning routine, and this effect can be amplified further when you improve the quality (and length) of your sleep.
Whether or not you had a good night’s sleep directly impacts your ability to perform (and enjoy) your morning routine to the best of your abilities. In our upcoming book we dedicate a whole chapter to people with inspiring sleep routines—alongside our thoughts on how to improve yours—and here we’re going to look at three quick tips on how to improve the quality of your sleep:
Reap the (Very Real) Rewards of Going to Bed Earlier
Going to bed earlier is the best thing you can do to wake up feeling refreshed. It’s the whole game. The earlier you start your evening, the easier it is to go to bed earlier, and, in turn, the easier it is to wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day. Our bodies tend to get deeper deep sleep in the early hours of the night compared with the later hours. We go in and out of deep sleep during every ninety-minute sleep cycle, but during the first third of the night our chance of experiencing deep, non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep increases.
Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California at Berkeley and author of Why We Sleep notes:
“The earlier in the night, the greater the propensity for deep non-REM sleep, and the later in the morning, the greater the propensity for REM sleep. Therefore, someone who sleeps from 9:00pm to 5:00am (eight hours total) will have a different overall composition of sleep—biased towards more non-REM—than someone who sleeps from 3:00am to 11:00am (also eight hours total), who is likely to experience more REM. Indeed, if you afford yourself the luxury of sleeping in later during the weekends, you’ll experience this phenomenon, with a greater likelihood of having more dreams due to the increased proportion of REM sleep.”
It’s for this reason that we often get more sleep during the winter than the summer months. Waking up during the dark mornings of the winter is miserable because you’re forcing your body to go against its nature. From an evolutionary standpoint, winter is a time for hibernation, with hibernation being all our bodies want to continue doing when our alarm wakes us up at 6:30am on a cold winter’s morning.
Create the Perfect Sleep Environment
We write about this at length in our book, but right now we’ll go into the basics of how to create the perfect sleep environment by optimizing your bedroom for sleep, not wakefulness.
- Keep your bedroom dark (put up heavy blackout curtains or wear a sleep mask)
- Filter outside noise (put in some earplugs or use a white noise machine)
- Make sure your bedroom isn’t too hot overnight
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress (don’t worry, this isn’t a mattress ad.)
Learn to (Temporarily) Cope with Less Sleep
We’re purposely not using the word “thrive” or “be more productive,” because when you’re getting less sleep than you need, all you can hope to do is cope. In truth, though many of us want to believe we can get by on six, or even just five hours of sleep a night, for most of us this simply isn’t the case.
With that said, it is possible to cope with getting less sleep on a temporary basis by taking daytime naps. While we understand that not everyone is in a position in which they can take a nap in the middle of the day, if you are these are a great way to ‘catch up’ on some of the sleep you lost overnight. (We recommend power naps of 10-20 minutes, or ‘full sleep-cycle naps’ of ninety minutes, when time allows possible.)
For more tips from us, and our interviewees, on how improving the quality of your sleep helps you make the most of your mornings, pre-order My Morning Routine (Portfolio/Penguin) today!