When it comes to sleep, quality is what matters. We all have different needs for how much sleep we need, that's individual, but we all need high-quality sleep. Improving sleep quality will let us wake up refreshed and recharged and more focused and happy without spending more time in bed. High quality sleep is almost a magic bullet for our health, performance, and energy.
Besides the obvious things like keeping your environment in check – making sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and slightly cool, one of the easiest ways to improve our sleep is to re-program our circadian rhythm, our internal clock, by going to bed and going up at the same time every day. After a while, your body adapts, you won't need an alarm clock, and you'll notice that you wake up more refreshed and have more energy.
Something that makes a huge difference in your ability to fall asleep fast is to have an evening routine. Personally, I like to do a bit of passive stretching, followed by standing meditation. Other people swear by journaling. Just find a way to wind-down that works for you.
I will cover breathing in a later lesson, but breathing through your nose is something that MASSIVELY improves your sleep and health in general. If you're a mouth-breather, this can absolutely be re-trained.
More on that later, let's talk sunlight. Like sleep, it is something we need daily. Everyone knows that sunlight is essential for developing vit D. Again, supplements are not the same. You don't get the same benefits natural sunlight affects your microbiome, which has a direct effect on your health and immunity.
We are made up of 90% microorganisms, and whether they act symbiotic or pathogenic depends on the balance of other microorganisms in your body; that balance can be restored by sunlight. There are much more benefits and effects that we don't fully understand yet.
But tying back to sleep: morning sunlight stimulates the production of melatonin and dopamine, which has profound effects on your health and your ability to fall asleep properly.
Just an anecdote, about a decade ago, I spent a year on the road, traveling various exotic countries, and despite having a less healthy lifestyle – eating worse, drinking more, sleeping and exercising less, and so on, I was still not getting colds and other infections as frequently as I used to. When I moved back to Scandinavia after this trip, I returned to a more healthy lifestyle, but despite that, I started getting sick more often. The one major difference? Dramatically less Exposure to Sunlight.
If you live in a dark country with long dark winters where you barely get exposed to the sun, vit D supplementation can be part of a strategy to combat this but not relied on exclusively.
There have been studies done on sports teams that have supplemented vitD during the off season, and they have performed noticeably better, including less sick days, so there is some merit to supplementation.
But if needed, I would also look into red and infrared light therapy. There are plenty of devices and many people who swear by this. I have no personal experience with them as I made the decision to move to a sunnier country instead, but it might be worth looking into if you're stuck in the darkness.
Reflection: what are two things you can do right now to improve sleep and to get more sunlight daily?