The most overlooked performance enhancing “drug” is SLEEP.

What’s crazy is, all you have to do is go to bed.  There’s a lot of challenging habits and routines to try to stick to in order to be the fittest and healthiest version of yourself, and this just isn’t one of them.  All you have to do is nothing for 8 hours, every night.

Getting to that moment of nothingness for 8 nightly hours is where the challenges can arise, but these 7 hacks should help you fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling much more refreshed!

1) Go to bed at the same time every single night and wake up at the same time every day.

  • Set a reminder each night to start winding down (and following the actions below).
  • Keep an alarm to wake you up in the morning, at the same time each morning – even on weekends!
  • The time between getting into bed and your alarm going off should be 9 hours (to allow for 8 full hours of sleep at least)

2) Create a bedtime routine that allows you to relax.

  • Starting when your reminder goes off, start getting in a routine that calms your body and your mind
  • Meditation, journaling, light stretching, or reading are all great options

3) Limit Blue Light before bed.

  • Blue light comes from screens, like your phone, TV and computer.  This light suppresses the secretion of Melatonin (which is what helps you fall asleep).
  • Ideally, once the sun goes down, you stop exposing yourself to any Blue Lights (since your body follows a circadian rhythm, the sun going down is what triggers our body to produce melatonin and other sleepytime hormones).  Since that is kind of unrealistic, invest in a pair of Blue Light-Blocking Glasses to reduce your exposure.
  • Even with the glasses, you should aim to get away from screens 1-hour before you get into bed.  Starting your bedtime routine 1-hour before you plan to go to sleep should help with this.

4) Expose yourself to a lot of bright, natural light during the day.

  • In order for your body to understand that it’s getting dark outside so it’s time to sleep, you need to get a lot of bright, natural light during your day first!
  • Waking up to light is a great start to helping you wake up and setting your body to a circadian rhythm.  Expose yourself to sunlight as soon as you can in the morning.
  • Getting sunlight throughout the day continues to improve your hormone balances by increasing serotonin which has a role in melatonin production as well.

5) At night, make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible.

  • After living in the bright light all day, keeping your bedroom as dark as possible can help with falling and staying asleep.
  • Cover windows with blackout curtains, wear a sleep mask to cover your eyes, and cover anything in your remains that stays lit up like clocks.

6) Keep your bedroom cool.

  • Studies show the most ideal sleeping temperature is between 60-68°F
  • This is certainly colder than most people keep their homes, so keep your bedroom door shut with a window cracked to help keep that room cooler than the rest of the house in the winter and use a fan or separate AC unit to keep the bedroom extra cool at night.

7) Watch what you eat and drink later in the day.

  • You should avoid any caffeinated beverages after 12:00pm.  Caffeine is slowly released into our system up to 5 hours after you consume it, so your afternoon pick-me-up could be impacting your ability to fall asleep.
  • Aim to stay hydrated all throughout the day with water.  To avoid waking up throughout the night needing to use the bathroom, try to avoid drinking anything at least 1-hour before bed.  That means you need to be fully hydrated before that though!
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages before bed.  While a glass of wine or beer can help you unwind and relax at the end of the day, too much or too soon before bed will mess up your sleep.  This is caused by an increase in your body temperature and a decrease in your melatonin produced.
  • A large meal before bed can have a different impact on people…some people find it very uncomfortable to fall asleep with a full stomach while others find it impossible to fall asleep if they’re feeling any bit hungry.  Figure out which works best for you and stick to it.