During my own pathway to getting better sleep, these are some essential tips I followed (and continue to follow), when trying to keep a consistent sleep schedule:
1: Light timing
Light is by far the most important time giver. In other words, it is the best way to help maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Even if you are unable to be completely beholden to a consistent schedule, it always helps to stay as close to it as you can. Get outside every morning to take in the sunlight. Your eyes are connected to your brain, and will be cued by the presence of the sun, keeping your internal schedule as consistent as possible.
2: Dark Timing
As the outside world gets darker, match your home to fit with it to align the rhythm of sun and dark. This can be done by turning down the lights as the outdoors get darker, and changing blue blockers to orange or red to contrast the blue of day. This helps with melatonin production in your body.
3: Temperature Timing
Cooling temperature as the day goes on matches with cooling temperature in the wild. Decreasing temperature as you prepare to sleep is a form of rewilding. Cooling pads can help with this, and ideally temperatures should sit around 60 degrees when going to sleep.
4: Meal Timing
Eating or drinking late at night can greatly lower sleep stats. An eating schedule should again mirror the wild; sunrise to sunset. The bulk of eating should therefore be within early parts of the day. Monitoring glucose intake and intermittent fasting can also help with staying on a consistent day to night schedule.
5: Movement Timing
Keeping the body cool as you go into the night also means any intensive exercising should be avoided, as it will raise internal heat temperatures. Much like your house temperature, keep your body cooler as the outdoors gets cooler.
6: Thought Timing
Clearing thoughts is a difficult process that can take time. However, the main goal at night should be to clear any busy thoughts, and not engaging with any activity or interaction that could crowd or stress your mind.
7 Night Routine
A good way to avoid crowded thoughts is to keep a consistent and calm night routine. It does not need to be meditation or yoga, just something that relaxes the mind like watching a light tv show. Turing off electronics while getting closer to bedtime will also help.
In other words, the effects that drugs have on our biological timing. There are certain drugs that can seriously impact our ability to sleep well, many of them being very common (such as caffeine and alcohol). Be aware of the common drugs used in your day to day life, and cut down on them, especially when close to bedtime.
9: Genetic Testing
A good way to find out how your body reacts to drugs such as caffeine and alcohol is to get genetic testing. This will uncover your behaviours and reactions around these drugs, helping you find the key to better quality sleep.
10: Don’t Fall Behind the Windows
Most importantly, if you fall behind the light and dark windows, find a way to get back on track. It will take 50-100 times longer to reset your internal clock if it falls behind, so find any way to take in sunlight during the day. If nothing else, prioritize light timing and temperature timing.
Note: This article was created from the conference Achiever II, and is rewritten from the speech given by Mollie McGlocklin.
McGlocklin is the creator of the company Sleep is a Skill, which seeks to optimize sleep through “technology, accountability and behavioural change”. She is also the host of “The Sleep is a Skill” podcast.