In a society where there’s so much pressure on us to juggle perfect sleep, work-life balance, healthy eating and exercise… it’s no surprise we’re all feeling so freakin’ exhausted.

When we’re burning the candle at both ends, it’s tempting to mainline caffeine just to get through the day. And don’t get me wrong, I love my magical bean juice as much as the next girl. It’s delicious. But when we’re already overwhelmed and exhausted, drinking too much coffee can just put more pressure on our adrenals. 

Sadly, coffee is not the answer. Neither is wine, although it may help you forget the question!

So what is the answer? Better quality sleep. Excellent Sleep. 

Dr Stan Rodski is a highly respected cognitive neuroscientist and authority on improved brain performance in high-stress situations. He is the author of The Neuroscience of Mindfulness and more recently, The Neuroscience of Excellent Sleep.

So, let’s get his top 5 tips for having a better night’s sleep.

But first, here’s something you should know…

Out of every ten people, about 3 to 5 would rate their sleep as not so great. What’s surprising is that some of us still get the right amount of sleep each night, even though our sleep quality isn’t up to par. This shows that sleep problems aren’t just about getting too much or too little sleep, or even dealing with insomnia. It’s the quality of sleep we aren’t getting that affects us in our day-to-day lives.

Not getting enough quality sleep is connected to several chronic health issues, like heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression. So it’s not just about lacking energy and feeling tired and grumpy. It’s big stuff.

Can we catch up on sleep?

You might think catching up on lost sleep sounds like a good idea, but Dr. Rodski explains it’s not just about making up for lost hours. Sleep works in cycles, so sticking to a regular routine is key for getting the best rest possible.

Being tired and grumpy might be a cute look on a puppy, but probably not on you. Image: Unsplash.

Debunking the 7-8 hour myth

We’ve all heard the golden rule of 7-8 hours of sleep per night. But is it gospel truth? 

Here’s the thing: every brain is unique, and we all have different needs when it comes to sleep. Most of us have adapted to getting around 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night because that’s what works for our busy lives. But hey, more wouldn’t hurt! The more of those 90-minute sleep cycles we can squeeze in, the better we’ll feel.

Now, let’s get to it. Here’s Dr. Rodski top 5 tips for improving sleep quality.

1. Find your sweet spot

Listen to your body’s natural clock and set a regular routine to improve how well you sleep. Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, finding your perfect bedtime routine can make your sleep feel like a dream come true.

Take a moment to think about when you go to bed. For example, if you go to sleep around 10 pm and wake up at 7 am, you’re already on the right track.

It’s also beneficial to give yourself a bit of extra time. If you aim for 8 hours of sleep from 10 pm to 7 am, you’ll have an additional hour buffer in case it takes you a bit longer to fall asleep. If you have a little dictator (child) like mine who wakes you up in the middle of the night asking for a bedtime story, it helps to take these distractions into consideration.

2. Create pre-bed peace

Before bedtime, avoid eating, exercising, or doing anything that stimulates your mind. Keep your space chill and steer clear of logistical talks. While it may be tempting to power through your to-do list with emails and admin work, it’s not worth the pre-sleep stress.

If you read, choose something light and relaxing. And don’t worry too much about screen light. Instead, focus on what you’re looking at. In other words, try not to look at anything that gets you too excited, sad or angry.

Want to feel more in control around food? Check out my Stop Struggling With Food Guide. You’ll also find 50 of my favourite recipes to get you inspired!

3. Keep your cool

Turns out, it’s not just about what you eat or how much you work out – it’s also about your surroundings. A warm bath feels great, but it’s that drop in body temperature afterward that really helps you relax and get ready for sleep. And creating a cool, comfy bedroom environment can make all the difference too!

4. Nurture your brain

Imagine your brain as a busy network where thoughts are influenced by emotions. Picture it like a sea creature with tentacles reaching out to connect and spark thoughts between neurons. This complex process helps your brain unwind and relax, which is crucial for falling asleep peacefully.

So, try to think peaceful thoughts.

5. Be real

Instead of stressing about hitting a certain number of hours, aim for a sleep routine that genuinely recharges you. Take one of these tips and give it a go.

Remember, it’s all about small, manageable steps. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Gentle progress is key to dozing off peacefully.

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