Sleep sucks? Here are 6 EASY ways to un-suck it.
Working out is important and so are the foods you put into your body, but of equal if not MORE importance is the quality of rest you’re getting each and every night.
Let’s get one thing straight, sleep is probably the most under-valued and overlooked component of your lifestyle. Don’t act like it’s not! Late night’s on the Gram’ in bed, Netflix binges, last minute email turned email(s) and trying to get all the housework done after putting the kids down to sleep. You know I’m talking to you!
I don’t need to sit here and tell you how ESSENTIAL the appropriate quantity and quality of sleep is to your well-being and goal attainment. Literally, everything you’re trying to accomplish right now is hindered by your careless approach to your sleep. From shedding fat to building muscle, strengthening your immune system and even making you smarter, you’re leaving money on the table if you’re not taking your sleep seriously.
There are plenty of sleep experts, health professionals and Ancestral pioneers out there preaching the gospel. If you haven’t heard then you’ve probably been living under a rock! It’s no longer a matter of debate (nor was it ever), what we know is that YOU need as much rest as you can get and the good news is, whether you are or aren’t is probably in your control.
So, let’s cut to the good part and chat about some simple ways you can begin leveraging yours to help you get un-stuck.
1) Get 8 hours.
This is simple but not easy. The average human being (that’s you) does best with 8 hours of rest. Ideally, that time begins once you fall asleep and ends when you wake in the morning however, a good place to start is to backtrack 8 hours from the time you need to wake up and be certain you’re in bed at that time, ready for sleep. In a perfect world, we wind our days down and begin them with the sun, but in the world we live in today our bedtime routines seem to be defined by set sleep schedules and alarm clocks. Do the best you choose to (remember, this is a choice), but remember your energy invested tonight will dictate your individual outcomes the next day. There is nothing MORE important for your mental and physical performance the following day than getting a night full of restful sleep. Fact.
2) Technology detox.
Some time before you begin your pre-bed routine, turn off any TV’s, lap-tops, cell-phones, Ipads, Kindles, or really any bright, backlit screens. These devices produce blue light which hinder the production of your main sleep hormone called melatonin. With less melatonin in the body, it makes it much more difficult to get into a sleepy state. We call this a “technology detox” but there should be a 60-120 minute grace period where none of the above should be in front of your face prior to getting into bed. The blue and green lights from these devices can affect our eyes and hormonal responses that are crucial in preparing us for a restful state.
Not willing to give up your screen time at night? At least reduce the deleterious effect from back-lit screens by wearing blue blocking glasses, dimming the lights or even this sweet red-light hack on your Iphone.
3) Workout hard.
Yes, exercising earlier in the day will help you sleep better at night. When we workout, we break down something called ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) that helps provide us the cellular energy we need for our workout. ATP is then broken down into ADP (adenosine di-phosphate) then eventually into just adenosine. The more adenosine we have in our brains the more we build something called “sleep pressure”. Sleep pressure helps to tell our brains to wind down and rest at night. Funny how moving our bodies can have such a trickle down effect to other things that affect our overall health. So, be sure to be consistent with your workouts and if you need a place you look forward to bettering yourself in, look no further.
4). Get some natural light in the morning.
Surprising to most, but exposing yourself first thing in the morning to natural light from the sun can help you get better rest at night. Getting outdoors first thing can help regulate your circadian rhythms which will aid in the appropriate production of cortisol (stress hormone) in the morning and melatonin (sleep hormone) at night. This is imperative to making sure you’re alert and awake in the morning and sleepy at night. You can also tie in so many great things with early morning sun exposure including walking with your loved ones or animals, kicking off your shoes and connecting with the earth, a breath work practice or all of the above!
5). Track it.
Sometimes all we need is a little accountability. What’s better than the personal accountability of waking daily only to see how shitty your sleep really was? Something that can help with this is a digital wearable or sleep app. The draw back on both of these are that they’re not very accurate in measuring this type of data. One that is? A WHOOP strap. The WHOOP was actually found to be outstanding at tracking sleep against the gold-standard of sleep evaluation, a polysomnography test via a research study conducted by the University of Arizona. This same study ALSO showed that the WHOOP does in fact improve sleep habits. As much as we may not believe it to be true, you will only go so long with your current sleep behaviors before you begin changing them if you PHYSICALLY saw how detrimental they were to your sleep and quality of life. The WHOOP clearly and accurately helps provide this information. Interested? Get a discounted one here.
Let me make this clear, none of the above steps will help if your brain refuses to shut off at night. We’ve all been there: lying in bed, wide awake staring at the ceiling with nothing on our mind except that huge anvil of a thought that’s weighing on us, keeping us up. Maybe a big project due tomorrow, an important presentation, an exam or a paper due, relationship distress, you name it but these are the types of things that prevent our brains from slowing down and getting into a restful state. Here are two helpful solutions:
1. Shift your focus elsewhere: Instead of fascinating about the future, wind your night down with three wins from the day. They can be three completed tasks that made you feel accomplished or even three things you are grateful for. Often times, re-shifting your focus from what may be creating stressful thoughts to a few things that bring you joy and gratitude can have a beneficial effect on falling asleep quicker.
2. Journaling: Everything that may be on your mind, write it down and ALLOW yourself the permission to deal with it tomorrow. Like mentioned above, nothing will better prepare you to take on the next day’s events than a night’s worth of restful sleep. Believe it!
Take a shotgun approach and try these all or pick and choose depending on where you need the most work. Like shedding fat, building strength and breaking bad habits, this kind of stuff takes time, energy and a consistent effort to TRULY change. It may take a few weeks or more of rolling around, wide awake at 9pm before things begin to improve, but stay the course because it’s worth it.
Want to look, feel and perform better than you ever have? Exercise consistently, eat foods that support your health, embrace a positive mindset and SLEEP MORE.
If you need help implementing these behaviors into your life and holding you accountable to doing so, we can help. Coaching is what we do best!
Fill out your info here and we’ll be in touch!
-Aja Barto, owner Behemoth Gym