The vast majority of people don’t get enough sleep, but the most important thing that people need to realize is that they are actually sleep deprived. The article on the science of sleep as well as the comprehensive sleep guide cover this problem, discuss how sleep actually works, and share several practical ways of improving sleep quality. If you want a primer on how to sleep better, the two resources are your best bet.
If you wish to improve your sleep, you can use some very practical and simple ways to do it. The strategies are referred to as the 3 Levers of Sleep.
The 3 Levels of Sleep
If you are looking to improve the quality of your sleep as well as boosting your performance, there are 3 levers to “pull” that can give you a boost:
Intensity: It refers to how well you actually sleep. As described in the sleep guide, sleep is of different phases. Of great importance are two of these phases i.e. REM Sleep and Slow-wave sleep (Deep Sleep). The percentage of sleeping time spent in the two phases are the greatest determinants of sleep quality each night.
Timing: It refers to when you actually go to sleep. What’s the time that you go to bed? This factor is of great importance for 2 reasons. First, if you go to bed around the same time every night, it will be far easier for the body to adopt proper sleeping habits. Second, the time that you go to bed needs to be according to your circadian rhythm, which is also described in great detail in the science of sleep article.
Duration: It refers to the length of time that you are asleep. It is a simple one: how much time do you spend asleep each night? 5 hours? 7 hours? It is easy to convince oneself that duration doesn’t really matter, but it is essential to your performance, growth, and recovery. Professional athletes regularly sleep over 10 hours each night. Duration is crucial for you too if you tax your body and mind.
How to Sleep Better
How can one use the 3 levers of sleep to improve sleep?
The truth is that there is nothing much that you can do when it comes to intensity. The body is largely responsible for managing the intensity of the sleep cycle (the amount of time that you spend in REM sleep as well as slow wave sleep) for you. It automatically adjusts on the basis of your needs as well as the amount of time you spend sleeping. Getting proper nutrition and exercising consistently will help, but such actions just improve sleep intensity indirectly.
However, this is good news since it makes things a bit simpler for you. Since the body manages sleep quality automatically, your focus should only be on two factors: duration (the amount of time spent sleeping) and timing (when you actually go to bed).
If you make one more assumption, it is possible to simplify the situation further. The assumption is that your time for waking up is about the same every day – a good Mattress One bed can help you with this.
If your time for waking up is about the same every day, then the sleep duration will depend on when you actually go to bed. Simply put, if you go to bed earlier, you will find yourself sleeping more. If you improve your timing you will improve the duration too.
This brings us to the following practical punchline…
Mastering Your Power Down Routine
If you would like to know how to sleep better, timing is probably the most important of the 3 levers of sleep. The body manages the intensity of your sleep automatically. Sleep duration largely depends on when you go to bed (assuming that your time for waking up is about the same every morning), which means that going to bed at a more consistent and earlier time is critical to improving sleep duration and quality.