As we head into autumn, changes to temperature and humidity can affect our ability to achieve restful slumber. James Davis, fitness expert and founder of fitness retreat 38 Degrees North, provides ten tips to help you sleep like a champion
As days get shorter, diminishing sunlight can have a largely negative impact, particularly if you are one of the unlucky few who rise before sunrise or remain at the office until it’s already dark outside. Vitamin D is directly involved in serotonin production, which is important for many functions including our sleep-wake cycles. Research shows that lack of sunlight in winter provides a potential explanation for increased feelings of depression and fatigue, not to mention overeating. Not only that but changes in light-dark cycles can also affect melatonin causing you to feel tired earlier or later than usual.
With some simple tips and the right kind of exercise you can navigate this tricky season and sleep like a champion. Here, James Davis, fitness expert and founder of fitness retreat 38 Degrees North provides his top ten tips to successfully sleep this season.
Train at the right time and intensity
High intensity training can tire you out, and leaving the gym with your lungs, heart and hormones pumping will not help you sleep. If you’re struggling to doze off at night, try not doing any high-intensity exercises after 4pm – for evening workouts think stretching, yoga and meditation.
Many fitness trackers will give you feedback on the quality and state of your sleep – you may be surprised at what’s available. Once you understand what’s happening with your body, you can take action.
Schedule your gym time
Put your training time in your diary – this is the thing you do for you – so schedule it – if you share your calendar other people can see it and schedule around it. This will take the stress out of finding time for you.
Check your diet
Start keeping a food diary for at least a week and notice if a poor night’s sleep is caused by something you’ve eaten or drunk – you may be surprised.
Get some quality exercise
If you’ve got a sedentary job or lifestyle you’re going to benefit from moving your muscles and burning some calories. Even if it’s only a long walk, start building 30 minutes of exercise a day into your life and reap the sleep benefits.
Mix exercise intensities up throughout the week
To relieve stress balance high intensity that gets your heart racing with more mindful and relaxing practices like yoga or meditation. Find the balance of both that works for you.
Get some air
Training outdoors exposes you to natural light (even on rainy days) raising your Vitamin D levels and the feel good factor – aim to train outside at least once a week.
Don’t eat protein too close to bedtime
Protein requires a lot of energy to digest which keeps your digestive system working away while you’re trying to sleep — it’s a bad combination. Better to have a light carbohydrate snack,
Put down the kindle
Ideally, your bedroom shouldn’t have any lights on, especially light emitted from a TV, clock/radio or really any electronic device. When your eyes are exposed to light during the night, your brain is fooled into thinking it’s time to wake up and reduces the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Light emitted by electronic devices is especially troublesome because it mimics sunlight.
Do something you enjoy
This might sound obvious, but you’ll be more motivated to do something you actually love doing – find the workout that works for you – it might be weights, it might be a class, it might be running, but doing what you enjoy is important, and having a smile every now and then is proven to reduce stress levels…