Let’s just state the obvious and say there is no possible way you can sleep 8 hours in just four. You can, however, make the most out of those four hours and get such a great rest that afterwards, you swear it felt like eight. One of the secrets to getting high quality sleep, as you’ll learn in this post, is complete relaxation and the ultimate resting environment. Find out what we mean and how to achieve this rest below.
Why Sleep Is Essential
Before you try and cheat the system, let’s fill you in on why the system is in place in the first place. Everyone has two stages of sleep; REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non REM sleep, and each serves an essential bodily function.
Non REM sleep has three different stages which play a role in repairing the body’s muscle tissues, retaining and building muscle (which is helpful for older folks), and strengthening the immune system.
REM sleep, on the other hand, refreshes your mind and is crucial for important brain functions like memory retention, learning, regulating your mood, and brain development for younger individuals. Accordingly, a lack of sleep can mean you’re missing out on fundamental bodily processes meant to support your general health. So if you’re going to only get 4 hours of sleep in one night, make sure you don’t make it a habit.
Step 1. Practice Relaxing Activities
It’s almost impossible to receive a deep, quality sleep if we feel anxious, stressed, or worked up. As such, it’s important to feel completely relaxed before you hunker down in bed. That way, when you eventually tuck yourself in, you’re more easily able to slip into a deep slumber because your brain and body are already prepared for sleep mode.
Read a book
Did you know one of the best ways to relax and de-stress is by reading a book? Research suggests that just 6 minutes of reading a day can reduce stress levels by a whopping 68%. Try reading a book in bed so you can set the book aside and close your eyes as soon as you start to really feel sleepy.
Practice yoga stretches
Yoga stretches are a great way to calm both the body and mind before you go to sleep, especially after a long day. Light stretching such as the downward dog or butterfly pose helps loosen up your muscles and relax the body, while deep breathing and focusing on body movement helps tranquilize your mind.
Take a pre-bedtime bath
For those of you with sore muscles after a long day, taking a hot bath before you go to sleep can help increase blood flow and promote healing — much like an ice bath can do. An ice bath at night, though, would likely have the opposite effect on your alertness than what you’re going for. There’s something about being in a freezing cold body of water that really jostles you awake.
Write in a journal
If anxiety or your endless list of responsibilities are keeping you from falling asleep, try keeping a journal and a pen nearby on a nightstand or bedside table. You can write anything from tomorrow’s to-do tasks or any negative feelings you’re having. That way, when stressful or anxious thoughts are keeping you awake at night, you can clear them out of your head and onto a piece of paper. There’s no use in worrying about something you can’t fix until morning.
Step 2. Step Away From Electronic Screens
After a day of being in front of your phone screen, computer screen, and TV screen, you should give your brain a well-deserved break from device screens. Putting away your devices an hour to an hour and a half before you plan to go to bed can be really beneficial for the quality of your sleep.
The blue light that emits from the screens of electronic devices is strong enough to throw our circadian rhythm out of whack, which is essentially our body’s natural alarm clock that lets us know when it’s time to wake up, and time to go to bed. Light heavily influences this rhythm, and you want to make sure your body naturally begins to wind down around bedtime.
Step 3. Get Comfy In A Dark And Quiet Environment
Continuing on with the idea of light influencing your circadian rhythm, you want to make sure your bedroom is nice and dark when you go to bed. Light limits the amount of melatonin your body produces, which is one of the signals that tells your body it’s time to enter sleep mode. So complete darkness is ideal if you want four hours of quality sleep.
Your bedroom should also be at an ideal sleep temperature, something that isn’t too hot or too cold. Experts say a good range is somewhere between 64-72° Fahrenheit. You should also factor in the climate you live in, the pajamas you wear, and how warm your mattress sleeps.
Your mattress is actually an important part of this whole 8 hours of sleep in 4 hours, too. If you don’t have a suitable mattress that feels comfortable and accommodating, it’s going to be really difficult to get a restful sleep on any night. For side sleepers out there, you should be sleeping on a soft mattress that cradles the curves of your body. Back and stomach sleepers, on the other hand, would benefit more from a firm mattress that supports their spine and trunk from sinking into the bed.
We have tons of mattress reviews and comparisons on our site if you want to take a look at some affordable, but quality mattresses that will help you in your plight for great rest.
Step 4. Avoid Liquids Before Sleep
To achieve four hours of uninterrupted, quality sleep, we also suggest you stay away from ingesting liquids before going to bed. Even water. Otherwise, you risk waking up 2-3 hours in to use the restroom, and it isn’t always so easy to go back to sleep once you return.
Step 5. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is having the ability to manage or cope with certain thoughts, and being able to guide them in a more neutral, calming direction. Many adults cite stress as a cause of poor sleep, and if you can learn how to deflect those stressful thoughts, you make it easier for yourself to fall into a deep, restful sleep. Practicing meditative movements like yoga or tai chi can help teach you mindfulness, while also relaxing your body at the same time.