We’ve all played the game where we ask the question “If you could have one superpower what would it be?” This question inevitably leads to a discussion on which superhero you would be if you had to pick one.
All we have to do to realize that everyone loves a hero is look at the past ten years at the movie box office, and you will see that over 50% of the highest grossing films are built around Superheroes!
I’ve always had a sweet spot for one particular masked man, Batman. Because deep down we all could be Batman if we were in the same situation as he was. It’s his bag of tricks that take a relatively ordinary man and makes him a superhero. In just the same way, there are some sleep tricks that we can all benefit from sleeping like a superhero.
Here are 8 tricks to sleeping like a superhero.
1. Exercise in the Morning– Interestingly enough, one of the keys to good sleep starts as soon as you wake up!
A study done by Appalachian State University tracked three groups exercising at 7am, 1pm, or 7pm 3 days per week and it showed that the participants who got the deepest, longest sleep (aka, the best sleep) were those who exercised in the morning.
Morning exercise supplies you with the energy that you need to soar through the day and ensure that you’re in good shape for another round of regenerative rest come evening.
2. Nutrition Matters- A bad diet is a double whammy when it comes to sleep. Not only does it make you feel tired and sluggish, but it also inhibits your ability to get good sleep.
Talk about an unhealthy sleep cycle – that’s why it’s so important to eat a healthy well-balanced diet and time your meals. This means starting your day with a nutritious breakfast and being judicious about those late night snacks. Experts advise that we eat dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime to ensure good sleep.
Two nutrients that can increase your ability to get good sleep are tryptophan (turkey-the thanksgiving napping tale is true- eggs, cheese, pineapples, salmon, nuts and seeds, turkey, seaweed, turnip, sunflower seeds) and vitamin C (oranges, red peppers, kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, grapefruit, guava, kiwi, green peppers).
3. Caffeine and Alcohol- I hate to be a buzzkill, but both caffeine and alcohol are detrimental to sleep performance.
Let’s start with caffeine, a stimulant that we love for its effect on getting us going… That is until we don’t want us to keep it going. We can't turn it’s stimulating effects off, so we’ve got to rely on our ability to limit the intake after a certain period of time. Most sources recommend cutting off our caffeine intake sometime between 2-4pm and not to exceed 400mg of caffeine daily.
Then there’s alcohol, a depressant. Many people experience alcohol's relaxing qualities without understanding the disruption it causes to our sleep. While alcohol may help us fall asleep more quickly, it reduces REM sleep, which is a more mentally restorative time for sleep.
4. Sunshine- Interestingly enough, getting some time outside while the sun's up can help you sleep when the sun goes down. Scientists say that getting as little as 10 minutes a day of continuous sun exposure can lower your evening cortisol levels and allow you to wind down and get quality sleep. A very good idea (if possible) is to combine sleep trick #1 of morning exercise with this tip to double down on efficiency.
5. Temperature- The key is to keep your sleep environment cool. The optimal temperature for sleep is said to be somewhere between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit, so set that thermostat somewhere in that range until you find the temperature that works best for you (everyone is has a slightly different optimal sleep temperature). Another trick to take your sleep cooling to the next level is to add something like a cooling mattress pad or a temperature controlled mattress pad like the ChiliPad on top of your mattress.
6. Turn Off The Tech- Most of the devices we use emit a blue light, also defined as “a type of high-energy visible light, defined as having a wavelength between 380 and 500 nm.” The most common sources of blue light are found in our televisions, computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Overexposure to this light throws off our circadian rhythms by tricking your mind into thinking that it’s still daytime, causing you to be more alert, thus making it harder to fall asleep and get good rest at night. So to get better sleep, turn off the tech at least an hour before bedtime.
7. Dark Night- Too many Batman puns, too little time. I’ll spare you the dad jokes en route to telling you what you already know, but might not be taking seriously enough.
Keeping your sleep environment as dark as possible is critical to let your body know that it’s time to produce melatonin and get quality sleep. Try to keep any electronics or lights off while sleeping, in addition to shutting out any external light if possible. An excellent way to do this is by using blackout curtains or a sleep mask. A mask like, you know, Batman.
8. Time- While all of these tips will enhance the quality of your sleep, the quantity of sleep is just as important. It is almost universally agreed upon that we need to get between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. The best way to do this is to set a schedule and stick to it.
None of us can ever be like Superman. These tricks won’t make you faster than a speeding bullet, stronger than a locomotive or be able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, but they might make you feel like you could. So use these tricks like Batman uses his gadgets to help you sleep like a superhero.