02 January 2019
By Nick Littlehales
The New Year is always filled with people making their New Years resolutions, and it's always the same. Most people plan to eat healthier or do more exercise, but one thing that gets overlooked is sleep.
Sleep, along with diet and exercise, is vital to your overall wellbeing. Having a good sleep and recovery approach can improve your performance, mood and motivation. So now is the best time to make a change and begin the journey to redefining your sleep!
It's not as hard as it may sound, there are some simple changes you can implement straight away that will make a difference. The very first thing you should do is decide your constant wake time, you can do this by looking at the earliest time you have to get up in a week, for example when you have to get to work, do the school run or go to training. Once you have decided this time, you need to stick to it, everyday. Yes that includes your days off. Your constant wake time then provides a point at which you can plan your day from, in 90 minute cycles.
Before we move onto the next step we need to cover one important aspect of the R90 Technique, sleep cycles. Forget about sleeping in hours, we sleep in cycles of 90 minutes. Instead of aiming for the famous 8 hours, aim for 5 cycles (7.5 hours). This means you will wake up at the end of a sleep cycle, where you are in a light sleep, and you'll feel more refreshed.
Now you have your constant wake time, you can count back in 90 minute cycles to decide your sleep time. If you are unsure of how many cycles you need, start with 5, you can then change this to suit you. Your sleep time can be flexible to adapt to your life. For example, if you have an important project at work that you need to spend a lot of time on, you can move your sleep time back one cycle to give you some extra time.
Another key factor in the R90 Technique is daylight. Daylight is extremely important in helping you to feel energised and motivated. Get as much daylight as you can when you wake up to boost your serotonin, if it's dark when you wake up consider investing in a daylight lamp. Try and have regular moments where you get outside during the day to take advantage of the daylight. However, when it is approaching your sleep time try and avoid light, including artificial light.
You should also be taking regular mind breaks during the day, ideally every ninety minutes. For example, going to get a glass of water, rather than sitting with a bottle on your desk, stepping outside for some fresh air or just a moment in time where you zone out for a minute. These regular, but small breaks will keep your concentration levels up, improving your performance.
By making these small changes you will see an improvement in your performance, energy levels, mood and motivation. These techniques along with lots more are explained in detail in Nick Littlehales' best-selling book Sleep.
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