The Number 1 Thing You Can Do to Improve your Sleep
My team and I are developing an ai sleep coach called Circles that works with the Oura Ring and are looking into what helps people sleep better.
If you’d like to follow our progress with Circles, keep an eye on my Medium and Twitter feed! I’ll also be sharing my experience of On Deck Health 1 that I am a part of right now, and also my Ship 30 for 30 challenge I am doing this month!
A great resource for anyone looking to improve their sleep is a wonderful community of Oura Ring users on Facebook, I found a recent survey in the group to be particularly insightful. We can always read about the science of getting better sleep, but seeing what really works for people in everyday situations is incredibly valuable too!
Participants were asked what has significantly improved their sleep — with results tracked with the Oura ring. Users were asked to only make recommendations based on consistent and significant changes. This means there had to be a notable improvement measured over a period of time and not just one night’s sleep, and if the particular supplement or activity was stopped, the results would reflect that change.
The Number One Thing to Improve Sleep
The thing that helped the most amount of people with significant results was…. A consistent bedtime and wake up time! This is definitely no surprise and is something Matt Walker speaks about often. Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule “sets” your internal clock and will help you fall sleep and wake up more easily — your circadian rhythm regulates your sleep naturally! When determining your sleep schedule you should take your Chronotype into account.
As human beings we are diurnal, meaning we are mainly active during the day and asleep at night. When we start to deviate from this, an example being night time shift work, the disruption to your natural sleep rhythm means the quantity and quality of your sleep can suffer. This can have a direct impact on your immune system and may have major longterm affects like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression, and even cancer.
Generally, Chronotypes are identified as morning types (early bird) or evening types (night owl), although Dr. Michael Breus has broken them down into four types: Bear, Wolf, Lion, Dolphin. In his book, The Power of When, he talks about the importance of when to sleep, but also when each Chronotype is most productive and should should focus on certain activities.
Most people are bears, meaning their circadian rhythm is in sync with the sun. They tend to wake up and fall asleep easily, and are most productive before noon. Wolves on the other hand have a hard time getting up in the morning and are able to be productive at the end of the day — the evening type. Lions are early to rise and most productive in the mornings, with an early bedtime. Dolphins are light sleepers who battle to get enough sleep due to sensitivity to disturbances. Their productivity window is usually between 10am and 2pm.
The key here is trying to balance your daily schedule or lifestyle with what your body needs. For now, many of us are working from home and hopefully that means you have some flexibility to adjust your sleeping time to match your ideal Chronotype. Modern day office hours aren’t very accommodating to people who may perform better in the evenings like the Wolf.
To note: your Chronotype will change based your sleep requirements through different stages in your life.
Consistency is Key
Your Chronotype is a broad picture of your body’s preferred sleep pattern and is a great guide for planning your schedule around your productive hours. But your circadian rhythm is something you can fine tune. By going to bed and waking up at the same times consistently, you are training your body to naturally feel tired and wake up at those times. It’s important to consider your Chrontype while doing this because although you might be waking up bright and early, your ideal productivity time may only be much later in the day.
Since I’m currently participating in On Deck — which is based in an American timezone and roughly 9 hours behind me, I’ll be adjusting my sleep schedule to start much later in the evening. I’m curious to see how I adjust. I know consistency will help me a lot here! I’ll keep you updated on how I manage.
If you are battling with sleep at all, a consistent sleep schedule is a great place to start!
I hope this is helpful and I wish you all some well-deserved sleep!