One of the most common issues I see with clients is sleep. More precisely, lack of sleep or lack of quality sleep. What is quality sleep? Sleeping from, the time your head hits the pillow until your alarm wakes you up in the morning. As a matter of fact, if you are sleeping properly you shouldn’t need an alarm to wake up! Not only is poor sleep annoying but it can have severe adverse effects on your health, fitness and fat loss goals. If you are interested in improving the amount and quantity of sleep please keep reading.
Aside from making you a grumpy bitch/bastard here are some of the serious effects lack of sleep has on your body.
- Mood Disorders
- High Blood Pressure
- Premature death
- Kidney disease
- Learning problems
- Memory problems
- Heart disease
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Hormone problems
- Danger while driving
- Low metabolism
- Weakened immune system
In the words of Dr. Rob Rakowski : Without adequate sleep you get sick, fat and stupid!
So, do you think sleep is important?
Let’s find out how to sleep better.
Shape the path. Simple changes to your environment can have significant effects on improving sleep. Here’s some of the best ways to do it.
- Try to keep your room as quiet as possible. If you live in a noisy area you can also try a variety of apps that have peaceful sounds or white noise to help block out the noisy environment or just simply relax you into sleep. We all know how relaxing the sound of ocean waves, light rain, or a babbling brook can be for helping you doze off.
- Keep the room dark. The darker the room the better. Light from anything including electronic devices such as, clocks, or the little light on t.v.’s etc. can impede sleep. Keep it pitch black. If you need to, try getting room darkening curtains.
- Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable. I made this mistake for years. My bed was old and lumpy and my pillows mushy. Since we purchased a new memory foam mattress and pillows my sleep has improved dramatically. If you are uncomfortable you will toss and turn all night. Since we spend approximately 1/3rd of our life sleeping it might as well be comfortable so we sleep well.
- Keep the room cool. Lower temperatures have been shown to induce deeper and more restful sleep. You all know how hard it is to sleep when it is hot and humid. Chill out.
- Keep electronic devices across the room from you or better yet in another room. The electronic radiation can not only negatively affect your sleep but is also bad for your health. This is especially true of cell phones. Plus, if you have a phone near you the crack head in you will constantly want to check for likes, emails, texts, snap chats and all of the other annoying ways people can contact you. I like to put my phone on “Do not disturb” mode and it charges across the room from me. Another thing to be weary of is wearing a “fitbit” all night. Although they claim to be safe I guarantee you it won’t be long until the constant exposure of radiation from these devices will have negative effects on your health. I will be writing a post on this soon.
- To piggy back off the above, it is not recommended to have a t.v. in your bedroom. Not only is watching TV. in bed not good for you for reasons I mentioned but it will distract you from sleeping and/or keep you up later then you want. It is easy to get so caught up watching your 5th episode of the night of Game of Thrones on netflicks and before you know it it’s 1am! The bedroom is for two things. SLEEP and SEX. If you keep your sacred sleeping space for those two things you will subconsciously know that when you go into the bedroom one (or two) of these will occur.
- Speaking of sex. Have more of it. Ever notice it is much easier to fall asleep after great sex? Not having great sex? Work on it. Practice makes perfect. 😉
Pre-bed Rituals: Other great ways to improve sleep are what I like to call pre-bed rituals. These are certain habits that you do each night within an hour of going to sleep.
- Gratitude log. A grateful log is simply a notebook or journal you keep at the bedside. Each night before you go to bed you reflex on the day and write down 3 or more things that you are grateful for that happened that day. Next write down 3 nice things you did for someone else. Next, write down 3 nice things others did for you. Lastly, write down 3 things that you are grateful for that you have not achieved/received yet. My mentor Charles Poliquin always said that “What you appreciate, appreciates” I am not a big quote box person but the one below summarizes this beautifully.
- Deep Breathing Exercises. Simply focusing on doing long slow inhales through the nose for 4 seconds. Pause for a 4 count and slowly exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds can have a profound effect on relaxing you. Do this for 5-10 minutes and it can work wonders.
- Yoga or Light Stretching. Another great way to wind down and loosen up before you sleep is to do some light yoga or stretching after a shower or just before bed. Combine this with deep breathing and you have a great recipe for a great nights sleep. Below is a “Moon Salutation” that I saw online that fits the bill nicely. It only takes 10-15 minutes and will set you up perfectly for sleep as well as, improve your flexibility.
- Meditation. Just like deep breathing above, one of the best ways to not only improve sleep but to improve your health is through meditation. I know meditation is hard for many (including myself) so that is why I like guided meditation. One of my favorite Apps Headspace https://www.headspace.com/provides all types of guided meditation for sleep, stress relief, www.headspace.com/ performance etc. Many are short (10 minutes) and easy to do. They have a FREE 10 day trial which you can try short 10 minute meditations each day. My favorite meditation is the Primus Meditation. The meditation is only 27 minutes long. You can access it here for FREE HERE. It is changing my life for the better every day I do it. This meditation is an amazing way to really ground yourself and allow yourself to become more present.
- No TV, computer, iPad, phones, social media. Along with the unwanted/unhealthy radiation of electronic devices is blue light. This is the light frequency emitted by these devices. This frequency has a negative effect on your hormones and sleep. Try to stay off social media, the computer, watching t.v., iPad, etc for about an hour before you go to bed. Avoiding this type of light allows melatonin (the hormone that makes us sleep) production and the natural cycle for your body to fall asleep. If you must use these devices then turn on “Night time mode” on the cell phone. This changes the light waves from blue to the red/orange spectrum associated with a setting sun and falling asleep. For your computer, there is a program called f.lux. https://justgetflux.com/ It is free and does the same thing. For each to these apps. Set them to turn on just before sunset and return to normal at sunrise. These are simple tools to make using some electronic devices safer before bed.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants (energy drinks etc.) after 12-1 pm. The effects of caffeine can last up to 10 hours in some people and will not only make it harder to fall asleep but sleep soundly. I am sure you have all had caffeine too close to bedtime and slept like crap that night. Some people can drink coffee late and still sleep but to be safe just avoid it.
- Salt Lamps. Salt lamps are great because they help purify the air in the room by negatively charging ions. This has been shown to not only be good for your health but improve sleep. Leave the light on doing the day and turn it off when you go to sleep. You can also keep n in the room you spend most of your time in before bed and leave it on all the time. Here is the link to a great one. The bigger the room the larger the lamp if you want it to work properly.
- Avoid Alcohol. Although alcohol may make it easier to fall asleep, it has been shown to negatively effect your ability to stay asleep. Alcohol negatively impacts your sleep cycles so you will not get restful sleep. Plus, you will more than likely have to wake up to use the bathroom totally interrupting your sleep. For the same reason it is also advisable not to drink too much water or other liquid close to bed time.
- The last “hack” for part one is going to bed and waking up the same time each day. This can be hard for many people. However, if you can do it or keep it within an hour difference (earlier or later) your body will develop a more stable sleep cycle. A more stable sleep cycle=better sleep.
That’s it for part 1. Stay tuned for part 2 where I will discuss which natural supplements help improve sleep quantity and quality. In the meantime feel free to give some of these ideas a try. Sleep tight.
To your health,