When taking care of your physical health, in order or importance, it goes: Sleep, nutrition, then exercise.
This is a tough concept to wrap our head’s around, given that we live in a culture of doers, where we always must do more, to see results. Many people wear their sleep deprivation as a badge of honor.
But truth is, people who function “fine” on low sleep are impaired and cannot tell. Have you ever had a friend, many alcoholic beverages deep, convinced that they are “fine” to drive home? It’s like that. We cannot tell that we are unable to function at our highest level. And if you’re already crushing it on 4 hours of sleep, just imagine how you could be positively impacting the world if you got a full night’s rest.
Getting regular, high quality sleep, will help you lose weight, get sick less often, prevent disease, decrease inflammation, recover from exercise, and deal with stressful situations more easily.
Inadequate sleep causes major hormone disruption, which will cause us to overeat and make poor food choices. This is why we might be craving that bagel with cream cheese and large sugary laden caffeinated beverage. It is physiological and willpower cannot save us. High quality sleep sets us up to make good decisions the next day.
High quality sleep starts with good sleep hygiene.
Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends! Your body will get used to the timing and it will become easy to stick to the routine. The most critical sleeping window is from 10pm – 2 am, so do your best to go to bed before or around 10pm and wake up as close to dawn as possible. Quality over quantity here. And waking up early will help you feel tired at an earlier bedtime.
Create habits that trigger the body that it is time for bed, to wind down gradually. At least 30 minutes before bed, eliminate blue light. This means shut off the TV, get off your smart phone, shut down the computer. Use candles, red light bulbs, or very dim light fixtures, for lighting. Lack of blue light signals to your body that it is approaching bedtime and begins the process of secreting melatonin, the hormone that puts you to sleep.
In this 30-minute window, do things that allow you to relax. Take a shower or bath. Read. Journal. Meditate. Roll around with your significant other. Play with your pet. Stretch or foam roll. Listen to soothing music. Anything that helps you to calm down.
Once it’s lights out, make sure that your bedroom is completely blacked out. Every ounce of light in your room at bedtime is preventing your body from producing that vital sleep hormone: melatonin. Put up some diesel blackout shades and buy a bulletproof sleep mask. Use electrical tape over any flashing lights on your electronics, or better yet, shut them off completely.
Shoot to keep the temperature between 60-68 degrees, and sleep as naked as possible, so that your clothing doesn’t impact the regulation of body temperature.
If you go to bed late, start by waking up 30 minutes earlier. If you already go to bed early, start by creating your own personal bedtime routine. See how getting more restorative sleep starts to change your days for the better!