Sleep is a big deal. I think most people intuitively understood that 100 years ago.
We didn't need hundreds of studies and a metabolically dysfunctional society to tell us that.
Somewhere though we lost that intuition.
Or in my opinion we got incentivized to lose it.
Sleep became an impediment to life instead of necessary for life.
It's the thing that we can prioritize last and just use whatever time is left in the day for it.
This way we can maximize our time at work and our time in front of the tv.
And as most of you can probably relate to lack of sleep is now considered a badge of honor or at least has been considered that for most of the last two or three decades.
It's just part of being successful.
I mean if you aren't sleeping than you must be working hard and getting a lot done, right?
Don't let me bring you down though. There is actually a lot of good happening in this sleep arena now. There are a lot of smart, kickass, and über successful people going to bat for you and I's sleep.
They are changing the conversation around sleep from one about how little one needs of it to how important it is to our physiological and psychological well-being and performance.
And with every passing year the evidence continues to mount that sleep is not an impediment to us living our lives, but as our ancestors knew it is fundamental to living our lives.
And it is just that much more important for those of us wanting to perform at a high level day in and day out.
Great we are on the same page then that sleep is important which is the easy leap to make or at least in my personal and coaching experience it is.
The harder leap to make is actually getting more and better sleep.
It requires changing our behavior which means disrupting our routines and changing our identify slightly.
This can be especially difficult if you are someone who has part of their identity and ego wrapped up in the fact that you are the person who doesn't require sleep and who outworks everyone else because you only sleep four hours a night.
If that sounds like you I'd like to challenge you by asking why do you believe that working hard and getting a lot done means giving up such an important thing like sleep? Why is not requiring sleep something to be proud of?
You have to begin taking a critical look at those beliefs and work to start changing them otherwise you won't truly value sleep, identify yourself as someone who does, and ultimately get more of it.
However for those of us who are already there and have done the work to change our beliefs around sleep and what it means to us our next step is devising an actionable plan to actually get more sleep and better sleep.
This is where it becomes slightly nuanced because in reality there is very little we can actually do with sleep to try to guarantee more or better sleep.
It actually makes more sense to focus on the time before and after sleep and what you can do to make those times more conducive to getting to bed and staying asleep.
The time before bed is where I'd like to focus my advice on and it's actually pretty simple, straight forward advice.
In fact many of us already had this habit and skill mastered well before our 12th birthday, but somewhere in our adolescence and twenties we lost it.
And that is simply having a bedtime routine.
A specific list of things you do in a specific order at a specific time which you do prior to getting into bed.
I am not going to be picky about what these things are you do or what order in which you do them, but I do what to give you some good rules of thumb when designing your pre-bedtime routine.
- Try to avoid to many electronic screens an hour before bed and at the very least use an application like f.lux to help you out.
- Try to avoid things that could be considered stimulates within a couple of hours of bedtime especially if you describe yourself as being sensitive to caffeine.
- Try to start your routine at the same time each night and try to end up in bed finally at the same time each night.
The idea here is to surround bedtime with things that begin cueing your mind that sleep is coming up soon.
If you are aiming for a certain number of hours of sleep don't try to start going to bed two or three hours earlier to get it.
Instead try starting your bedtime routine 10 minutes earlier for a week or two and slowly repeat that process until your able to back up the time you get into bed to your target time.
Remember it's important that you give yourself structure here, but also allow room for experimentation.
The only thing that matters is that you do it consistently.
Before you know it trying to get that better sleep and more of it won't be such a struggle and I guarantee you will notice big returns on the way you feel and perform each day.
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training