Coaching

The Fundamentals: The Science of Sound Sleep

Follow these five expert tips and you can wake up well rested — and with a competitive advantage.

Last updated: January 26, 2021
The Science of Good Sleep

Sound, restorative sleep should make up about a third of your life. But if you’re like most people, you don’t get enough of it. “Not only does it critically impact your overall health, but sleep can help you move better, make smarter food choices, and give you a competitive advantage,” says Jennifer Martin, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at UCLA and a Nike Performance Council member.

Martin says she relies on the science of sleep to help patients, doctors, and athletes wake up well rested every day. That helps them feel better, recover faster, and ultimately lead healthier lives. Here are her five fundamental guidelines that can help you do the same.

  1. Make It a Priority
    Biologically, most adults need at least seven hours of sleep every night to feel their best. To help you get there, schedule sleep into your day the same way you would an important meeting or family responsibility—and don’t let anyone double-book you.
  2. Follow Your Own Rhythm
    Not everyone is bright-eyed at 5 am. And not everyone likes to stay up late. Instead of fighting your preferences, honor them by structuring your daily life around your own internal clock. If you’re not a morning person, schedule your more important work or workouts in the afternoon.
  3. Be Consistent
    Trying to make up for lost sleep by sleeping in on the weekend can shift the timing of your internal clock. This can feel like jet lag on Monday morning. When you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, you should wake up more easily and with more energy. Think of it as a way to make your internal clock that much more precise.
  4. Set the Mood
    A peaceful bedroom can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Keep yours quiet, cool, and dark to let your body fully relax. Clear out clutter, screens, and anything work-related so that your mind can really let go.
  5. Don’t Try So Hard
    If you struggle to fall asleep, take a moment to ground yourself before tucking in. Sit on the edge of your bed, close your eyes, and place your hands lightly on your lap. Bring your attention to the sensation of your feet on the floor and your hands on your lap. See how it feels to just sit quietly. Still no luck? Go into another room where you can read a book, fold laundry, or sort some papers—anything calming to take your mind off sleep. When you do start to feel sleepy, go back to bed.

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