How To Sleep Better and Why Sleep Is Important

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Firstly, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Naudia and I am the founder of We Drifters. I love travelling and have explored many countries and can’t wait to explore more!

Why do I believe sleep is important? As my life has gotten busier I’ve found it more and more important to sleep well in order to keep up with everything that I need to do! This means waking up early, feeling refreshed and having a clear mind. This has seen me make some changes to my daily routine while incorporating self-care and wellbeing.

Read on for some of my top tips for getting a good night’s sleep.

My Backstory

Throughout my travels I learnt the importance of sleep and realised that I needed to make some changes to my sleeping pattern in order to make the most of my days. Growing up, I was a bit of a night owl, always more productive in the evenings. But this meant I really struggled getting up in the mornings (I’m sure others can relate!).
This trend continued and amplified throughout my travels in my 20s. I was staying in different places and had less control over my sleep environment which had an impact on my quality of sleep and made making it to morning activities a real struggle! On the days I was actually able to sleep I would often be woken up by bug bites, which is no fun at all. This is what inspired me to create our Anti-Insect Sleepwear, click here if you would like to read more about this sleepwear and its unique story.

Tired of having disturbed rest and lacking energy during the day, I became obsessed with optimising my sleep. Over the years I have continued to research tips from experts and tried and tested many different things to sleep better.

I have compiled a list of what works for me (and hopefully you). These tips may not be for everyone, but I recommend trying these suggestions and seeing what works for you.

1. Plan your sleep – “how much sleep do you actually need?”

I plan and structure my sleep the same way I plan my workouts and food each week. It’s become one less thing for me to worry about.

So, how much sleep do you actually need? “Think cycles, not hours!”

According to Nick Littlehales’ book ‘Sleep’, you should plan your sleep to the 90-minute sleep cycle rule (plus a little extra time to fall asleep). This rule was a game-changer for me! I now find that if I stick to this, I’m more awake and full of energy compared to if I wake-up mid-cycle.  

I plan how many cycles I need each night to be fully rested. For me this is usually 5 cycles (7.5 hours) but everyone’s different. Try it out and see what your magic number is!

Top tip: It’s more important to look at the overall number of cycles each week, which gives you more flexibility each day and works well if you have a varied schedule. I try to be consistent with what time I wake-up and work back from that on what time I go sleep – the book explains that research shows a consistent wake-up time improves recovery!

If you’re interested in reading about this rule in more detail, here is a great summary of the book.

2. Strategic naps – power naps and yoga nidra are my Plan B!

Sometimes you don’t get the ideal number of sleep cycles, it happens – maybe you’ve had too much caffeine during the day, maybe you’re stressing about work and just can’t switch off. Instead of panicking I find having a 30-minute nap during the day really helps.

Alternatively, I do a little yoga nidra to distract myself and focus my attention elsewhere to calm my body and relax.

Research shows power naps are as effective as getting a full cycle of sleep and that even short naps enhance memory processing and improve performance, alertness and mood.

Top Tip: Be sure not to oversleep while taking a power nap as this can make you less productive!

3. Optimise your sleep space – bedrooms are for sleeping not working

Having a separate space for sleeping and working helps you to unwind at night and reduces the temptation of staying up late working.

You might be wondering how to optimise your bedroom for a better night’s sleep? I recently moved house so had the chance to redo my bedroom set-up. Here are some key things I found that made my sleep better:

  • Good bed – At first, I was reluctant to buy a new bed as they are a little expensive, but since I had no choice, I thought I’d invest in a nice new mattress too – Wow! I have definitely noticed the difference. Having the right bed and good quality sheets are essential for feeling comfy and allowing your body to rest and recover properly.
  • Bedside lamp – I’ve got a special light lamp which I use to dim down light before I sleep. It also gradually wakes me up with light in the mornings and it’s been a godsend! I’d seriously be lost without this.
  • PJs, pyjamas, sleepwear! – Choosing the right sleepwear is key! Here are some top things to look out for when looking for the perfect pjs for a better sleep:
    - Comfortable and breathable
    - Fabric that is super soft (my favourite is bamboo, you definitely need to try it! Bonus: bamboo can also adapt to different temperatures!)
    - Fabric made from natural fibres
    - Loose fit, allowing for normal secretion of melatonin, which is key for regulating sleep cycles

Top Tip: If you’re allergic to bug bites like me, then you know that just the thought of bugs around you can keep you up at night. Having sleepwear that can avoid this helps me sleep so much better which is why I came up with our Anti-Insect Sleepwear.

4. Prep for sleep during the day – limit caffeine

I’ve gone through phases of having no caffeine, but keep coming back to it (I love a coffee, matcha, green tea, white tea … the list goes on!). So, I’ve learnt to limit myself to one black or bulletproof coffee in the morning and something less caffeinated early in the afternoon so it doesn’t affect my sleep.

I’ve recently switched to drinking coffee with mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane, Chaga and Coredyceps, which has half the caffeine content of normal coffee. (No, these are not hallucinogenic magic mushrooms! They support a balanced mind and body to boost energy, productivity and focus).

5. Early dinners

It doesn’t matter what time you eat, as long as it’s 3 hours before you go to sleep. Why? Because it gives your body time to digest your food properly so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.

Top Tip: Water is amazing for your health, but can ruin a good night's sleep! I start reducing water intake closer to bedtime to avoid getting up during the night to go to the toilet.

6. Pre-sleep routine

  • Reduce blue light – I have an app on my laptop and phone that automatically reduces this because blue light interferes with your body’s ability to prepare for sleep. This means that it can take longer to fall asleep.
  • Stop tech – I aim to stop using any technology 90 minutes before I go to sleep. I have off days of course, but I try to wind down with some gentle yoga, get ready for bed and read. This, along with reducing blue light, helps me fall asleep really quickly.
  • Quiet your mind – meditating before bed can be super helpful to get relaxed and prepared for sleep, especially if you have a busy mind. I love a sleep meditation or hypnosis video, Michahel Sealey on You Tube is my go-to... He has lots of videos to choose from including falling asleep fast to cleansing mind, body and spirit. It’s worth getting some Bluetooth sleep headphones which make it easier and more comfortable to listen along and drift off to sleep.

These are just some of the things that have helped me sleep better and feel more rested. Of course, I still have the odd day when I’m not as awake as I’d like, or Netflix just keeps calling for one more episode, but the beauty of combining these tips means that you can be flexible and add as many elements as you want.

How do you sleep?

I’d love to know if any of these have worked for you, or if you have perfected your own routines – I’m always looking for more ideas to learn from. Share your thoughts and inspiration via our Facebook group and spread the secrets to better sleep!