What Are the Best Strategies For Improving Your Sleep?

For all of 2017, I tracked my sleep using a Sleep Diary. Looking back at the whole year of data, it is now possible to determine which intervention and variable led to the best sleep. Let’s have a look at the top 3 interventions for each sleep parameter, and the bottom 3 interventions too.

WHAT ASPECT OF YOUR SLEEP DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE?

Time to bed:

I-sopod_Flotation_Tank

The variables that contributed to the earliest average time to bed was:

  1. Float tank – 9:39pm
  2. Lyrical music – 9:55pm
  3. No yoga or pilates – 10:01pm

The variables that contributed to the latest average time to bed was:

  1. No alcohol – 12:58am
  2. Too much caffeine – 12:49am
  3. Reading books before bed – 12:42am

Time in bed:

cropped-pacheco-breaching-yucca-ville-malibu-ca3.jpg

The variables that contributed to the shortest time in bed was:

  1. Sleep Restriction – 6 hours, 53 minutes
  2. Too much caffeine – 7 hours, 0 minutes
  3. Sauna in the early evening – 7 hours, 0 minutes

The variables that contributed to the longest time in bed was:

  1. Too long in bed – 9 hours, 1 minutes
  2. Going to bed too early – 8 hours, 39 minutes
  3. Morning sunlight – 8 hours, 29 minutes

Total sleep time:

nomao-saeki-63687.jpg

The variables that contributed to the least total sleep time was:

  1. Float tank – 6 hours, 26 minutes
  2. No aromatherapy – 6 hours, 27 minutes
  3. Sleep restriction – 6 hours, 32 minutes

The variables that contributed to the most total sleep time was:

  1. Too long in bed – 8 hours, 0 minutes
  2. Nature sounds – 7 hours, 55 minutes
  3. Good food – 7 hours, 54 minutes

Sleep onset latency:

The variables that contributed to the shortest time taken to get to sleep was:

  1. No alcohol – 5.71 minutes
  2. Imagery relaxation – 6.75 minutes
  3. Winding down and relaxing before sleep – 7.14 minutes

The variables that contributed to the longest time taken to get to sleep was:

  1. Too long in bed – 22.86 minutes
  2. No sunlight in the morning – 20 minutes
  3. Meditation – 17.86 minutes

Wake after sleep onset:

guillermo-nolasco-134842

The variables that contributed to the least time awake during the night was:

  1. No alcohol – 0.71 minutes
  2. Sauna in the early evening – 2 minutes
  3. Blue-light blocking glasses worn in the last two hours pre-sleep – 2.14 minutes

The variables that contributed to the most time awake during the night was:

  1. Going to bed too early – 46.43 minutes
  2. Sleeping on the floor – 40 minutes
  3. Spending too long in bed – 37.86 minutes

Rise time:

aaron-burden-236415

The variables that contributed to the latest average arising time from bed was:

  1. Reading before bed – 8:07am
  2. Deep breathing before bedtime – 8:06am
  3. No alcohol – 8:03am

The variables that contributed to the earliest average arising time to bed was:

  1. Float tank – 4:46am
  2. No yoga or pilates – 5:30am
  3. Creative activity before bed – 5:59am

Sleep Quality:

estonian-saunas-685204-unsplash

The variables that contributed to the best sleep quality was:

  1. Sauna in the early evening – 5/5
  2. Deep breathing before bed – 4.8/5
  3. No alcohol – 4.71/5

The variables that contributed to the worst sleep quality was:

  1. Spending too long in bed – 3.29/5
  2. No meditation – 3.42/5
  3. Going to bed too early – 3.43/5

Sleep Efficiency:

The variables that contributed to the best sleep efficiency was:

  1. No alcohol – 99%
  2. Blue-light blocking glasses worn in the last two hours pre-sleep – 97.9%
  3. Winding down and relaxing before sleep – 97.83%

The variables that contributed to the worst sleep efficiency was:

  1. Going to bed too early – 87.89%
  2. Sleeping on the floor – 87.89%
  3. Spending too long in bed – 88.78%

BEST SLEEP INTERVENTIONS OVERALL

Here are all of the interventions I tested across the whole year, ranked from best to worst based on their overall score out of 100:

sid-leigh-181137

High Distinction

  1. Stimulus control = 85/100
  2. Winding down before sleep = 85/100
  3. Sleep restriction = 81/100
  4. Relaxation strategies pre-sleep = 81/100

backlit beach dawn dusk

Distinction

  1. Meditation = 77/100
  2. No alcohol = 75/100
  3. Wearing blue-light blocking glasses before sleep = 75/100
  4. Listening to music in the evening = 73/100
  5. Yoga/Pilates = 72/100
  6. Constructive worry or writing down plans = 71/100

frank-okay-109313

Credit

  1. Avoiding TV before bed = 69/100
  2. Melatonin = 68/100
  3. Aromatherapy = 68/100
  4. Sauna or hot bath in the evening = 68/100
  5. Morning sunlight = 65/100
  6. Reading or listening to audiobooks pre-sleep = 63/100
  7. Exercise during the day = 61/100

tzkwlro904e-drew-coffman

Pass

  1. No caffeine = 58/100
  2. Good food = 57/100
  3. Controlling temperature = 57/100
  4. Massage in the afternoon = 57/100
  5. Comfort of sleep surface = 56/100
  6. Sleeping alone = 53/100
  7. Creativity in the evening = 52/100
art artistic bright color
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Fail

  1. Float tank during the day = 45/100

Music and aromatherapy were much more effective than I imagined they would be. Reading, creativity and float tanks were much less effective. Some strategies are good for that night, but not very practical long term. Others are great for people who are single, but not those with bed partners. The key is to find the highest ranked strategies that you think would be effective and applicable for you, give them a go for at least a week, and then review if they are helping you if the ways that you want to.

Thanks for joining me on my journey as The Sleep Detective. 2017 was a fun year thanks in part to the sleep experiments I conducted. In 2018, I’ll be taking on the challenge to become Deliberately Better. Please feel free to join me on my journey if you’d like to improve your health and well-being too!

Dr Damon Ashworth

Clinical Psychologist

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5 comments

    • I bought them online. The ones I got were UVEX blue-light blocking glasses. Hopefully a quick search will help you find them pretty easily. If not, let me know and I’ll try to find a website for you

      Like

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