Are you getting enough sleep at night? Do you know how much sleep you should be getting? At least 7 hours at the minimum. You should striving for more like 8-9 hours/night.
Sleep is what gets us to recover and truly tap into our parasympathetic nervous system, where we can rest and digest. Our bodies can recover from the day and the damage and stress that was experienced.
Most of us, though, embrace our fast-paced society. We work longer and sleep less. We think we need more hours in the day to get s*** done, so we opt for the classic 4-5 hours of sleep and say “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
Well, I hate to break it to you. Your lack of sleep could be pushing you there faster, believe it or not. Individuals who don’t sleep are at risk for age-related dementia, cancers, depression and anxiety, just to name a few.
What if I told you that if you slept more, you’d actually get more done and live a longer, happier life?
Sleeping more will…
Improve your mental cognition and help you function better during your working hours
Increase your productivity significantly, allowing you to get way more done in less time
Allow your mind to shut off and your central nervous system to recovery, both which will allow you to have more energy and less fatigue in all that you do
Boost hormones, which will improve so much in your everyday life
Reduce inflammation and help your body burn more body fat and build more muscle
Improve better insulin sensitivity, digestion, and nutrient absorption
In other words,
SLEEP = RESULTS
Great, so how do you actually do this?
The first thing to evaluate is your diet. The cleaner you eat, the better sleep you will get. You will have a more balanced nutrient intake, all contributing to your health. The healthier you are, the better you will sleep. Keep your diet as unprocessed as possible, following the 80/20 or 90/10 rule. 80-90% of your diet comes from whole, unprocessed foods and 10-20% coming from foods you enjoy to keep you adherent--and sane.
Once your diet is in check, simply follow these tips below. The first 5 are fairly essential and should all be considered. The remaining suggestions are further ways to improve your sleep if Keys 1-5 aren’t enough.
Keys to getting better sleep:
You need to be sleeping in a cold, dark closed off room in a comfortable bed. Temperature should be between 65-70°F. Your room should be as dark as possible. Black-out curtains should be considered to reduce incoming light from outside. Your bed should be updated (<5-8 years) and comfortable, not sagging or creaky. Closing your bedroom door will not only help you in case of a fire but will also separate your work/play areas vs. your rest areas.
Blue light is stimulating for your brain. This is the light that is used for your phones and your TV. Not only that, but often what is being watched on TV or viewed on your phone itself is very stimulating. Blue lights and screens should be removed at least an hour before bed. Turn TV off and your phone on Do Not Disturb. Until you go to bed, also switch your phone to “night-shift” as the brown light will be less stimulating if you do need to get on your phone on occasion.
It takes approximately 8 hours for caffeine to wear off and leave your body. You may only feel the effects for a few hours (2-3) but caffeine binds to receptors in your body that usually function to release melatonin and trigger sleep. Caffeine blocks these receptors from working at the appropriate times. It takes the full 8 hours for caffeine molecules to separate from these receptors. Pre-workout is a stimulant and shouldn’t be taken before your 5pm workout if you want to get a deep, REM sleep. If you’re that person who “caffeine doesn’t work any more” and rely on 3+ cups of coffee to get through the day, then your sleep is complete garbage. It will suck but if you want to reap the benefits of sleep, you’re best weaning yourself down to 1 cup/day before 12. By 1 cup, I don’t mean a 32oz Yeti. I mean an 8-12oz mug.
This one has two parts. The first is to include some carbs at dinner before bed. Cortisol is what keeps us awake. Carbs result in the release of insulin which in turn shuts off cortisol and allows for the release of melatonin, getting you to sleep. If you eating too few carbs, it could also explain why you’re getting up to pee in the middle of the night. The second part is to not eat within an hour of going to bed. Not because you’ll gain weight but because your body will be digesting food instead of helping you get a good night’s rest.
5. Nightly routine
This one is crucial. Every night, you should do the same thing to allow your brain to start getting into sleep mode before you climb into bed. Set an alarm every single day 30 min. to an hour before bed to begin your night routine. Wash your face, brush your teeth, turn off electronics, set out clothes to wear the next day, and get into bed. Play some soft relaxing music as you do this. By the time you climb into bed, your body has already begun the process to go to sleep helping you fall asleep faster.
6. Remove ALL stress
This is crucial. If you’re wired and on edge going to sleep, you’re not going to sleep well. During your routine, start deep breathing and turning your mind off for the day. As you go to sleep, turn on a fan or sleep sounds. Meditate. Just 3-5 min. of meditation before bed will remove all your stress and help you truly get into a deep sleep. I personally do this every night using Headspace.
Alcohol may help you get to sleep, but as a depressant, it depresses all bodily functions including all of those processes getting you into a deep sleep. Limit alcohol to 1 day/week.
8. Essential Oils
One of my absolute favorites. There is an essential oil for any problem you can think of. Sleep, stress, dry skin/scalp, sore muscles, sickness, grogginess, you name it. They actually do work and are chemical free as compared to candles. Diffusing lavender as you sleep is beyond amazing. This was the final step for me in finally getting good sleep after I started the business and would wake up in a panic every night at 3am. If you’ve never tried essential oils, contact me and I will get you started with an amazing discount and membership with Young Living.
9. Contrast showers
This technique is huge for shift workers or anyone who has tried everything to no avail. It’s good not only for good sleep, but for stress relief and muscle recovery. It’s perfect for when you’re traveling and sleep is a bit harder to come by. Here’s how: 10 seconds of relatively hot water, then shift to 20 seconds of fairly cold water. Alternate back and forth at least 5 times. Feel free to do more if you enjoy it. I’d keep it no more than 10 times, however. After, immediately dry off and wrap up in a big blanket. You’ll be damn near ready to pass out.
There you have it, 9 tips on how to crush the zzzz. You can do a few of them or all 9. It’s entirely up to the individual and how they respond to sleep. If you only need one of these do get you in that deep sleep, don't add all 9 and eventually burn yourself out. Keep it simple here to get the best results!