David de Souza
4 Small Changes That Improved My Sleep
Updated: Dec 12, 2020
How much would you pay for a pill that enhances your happiness, productivity and immunity from illness? Sleep offers these benefits (and more).
School never taught us how to sleep (they actively sabotaged it) and despite the statistically significant returns, we don't usually invest the time or resources into it.
In addition to the short term benefits, sleep has a web of ripple effects that compound over time. Enhanced sleep, improves your memory and cognition, which can up your productivity, impacting your job performance, and increasing the probability of a promotion and a higher income.
Improved sleep not only affects you professionally but also impacts a key variable in our overall happiness, our relationships. Investing in sleep will make you a merrier person, a person that others want to be around. Sleep also affects our emotional stability, reducing the probability of arguments with our partner and the possibility of an expensive and stressful divorce.
I believed my ability to function with little sleep was a badge of honor. However, since self-experimenting, I've realized my mistake and discovered the key factors that influence my ability to wake up feeling refreshed, happy and full of energy.
A few variables will have a huge effect on the quality of your sleep. The 4 most impactful changes I've discovered are:
1. Using custom-made earplugs.
2. Using an eye mask.
3. Keeping pets out of the bedroom.
4. Avoiding addictions: Coffee, Alcohol & Sugar.
The thought of avoiding coffee, alcohol and sugar may seem daunting... it was for me. But the secret is that I don't avoid them completely, I use the 80/20 principle. I usually drink just one night a week, I avoid coffee after 3pm and I track which foods contain the most sugar and only eat them on the weekends.
These 4 principles provided the biggest returns on improving my sleep. If you want to enhance your sleep further, 8 other strategies may help:
5. Meditating Before Bed - Meditating before bed may reduce stress and anxiety... it can also be combined with the next suggestion, so you can implement two strategies for the price of 1.
6. Avoiding Screens 45 minutes Before Bed - If you must use an electronic device, consider an app like Flux that dims the screen.
7. Time Tracking Your Sleep - There are a number of devices you can use to track your sleep. I have used Oura, FitBit and my iphone. There are also a number of apps that are just as effective.
8. Enable Sleep Mode on Your Phone - This not only reminds me to go to sleep but it also acts as a barrier, making it harder to access social media and my browser which often distracts me from sleep.
9. Exercising - If you are tired from exercising you'll find it easier to go to sleep. Avoid exercising right before going to sleep however.
10. Move Closer to Work - The average commute is 52 minutes. Living closer to work, not only gives you more time to sleep, it is also has huge impacts on other areas of your life. Living closer to work increases your happiness while also reducing your travel expenses, carbon footprint and driving, one of the riskiest things we do.
11. Avoid Drinking too Much before Bed - This will reduce the chances of waking up because you need to go to the restroom.
12. Investing in: + A quality mattress. + A quality pillow. + Quality bedsheets. + Comfortable pajamas (I opt for Bamboo).