Is SLEEP really that important? We’ve heard a thousand times that “You need 8+ hours of sleep.” Hell, Lebron James is reported to sleep over 12 hours a night. I guess if Lebron is doing it we should too, right?
Well maybe not. We aren’t all professional athletes and many of us don’t feel like we can spare 12 hours in a week let alone every night.
However, sleep deprivation is a real thing and has some pretty serious side effects:
- Slower metabolism (wait what?!)
- Memory loss
- Impaired focus and learning ability
- IRRITATION (think hangry but on a higher level)
- Slower recovery from workouts
- Etc… The list goes on and on
I could keep writing side effects but it would start to feel like you’re reading the back of a prescription label.
The point is, that getting enough QUALITY sleep is key for us not to only function at a high level but to live a happy life. No one wants to walk around tired, unfocused and grouchy.
“Alright I get it! I need more sleep. Just tell me what to do already.”
Below is a list of 8 ideas to help you get a good nights rest. By no means do we think you should do all of them in one night. Instead, we recommend trying 1-2 at a time and see what works. If after a couple nights you don’t feel a difference, scratch it and attempt something new.
After awhile you’ll begin to create what we call a bedtime ritual. It may take a couple weeks to really nail it down but your efforts will be rewarded with a happier, healthier life.
8 Simple ways to get a good nights rest
1) Schedule it
“Siri, remind me tonight at 8pm to get ready for bed”
We schedule everything from meetings at work to when to pick up the kids from school. Why not do the same for something as important as getting some shut eye.
By putting it on our calendar we are committing to ourselves to make “hittin the hay” a priority.
If you know you have to wake up by 5:30am then you should be in bed no later than 10:30pm to get at least 7 hours.
Also take into consideration how long it takes to get ready for bed. Don’t just stop everything you’re doing at 10:30 and lay down. Good sleep takes preparation, otherwise you’ll find yourself tossing and turning all night.
Life isn’t always going to cooperate with your schedule, especially if you have kids. Do your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. If you slip up, don’t sweat it. Tomorrow is another opportunity.
Turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before you go to bed
There is a ton of research that shows digital devices stimulate the brain. The noises, the light and the mental demands of watching a screen prohibit us from falling asleep.
This is one I still struggle with but the proof is in the pudding. You’ll notice a difference almost immediately when you give yourself a break from electronics. I’ve noticed a huge difference on nights I unplug compared to nights I scroll through Instagram right before bed.
3) Water break
Do NOT drink water within 1 hour of your planned bedtime
The amount of sleep we get is important but uninterrupted sleep is even better.
Drinking liquids before bed will unfortunately demand frequent bathroom breaks. Have you ever been in the middle of an awesome dream just to have it interrupted? Not cool.
4) Brain Dump
There is nothing more frustrating than lying in bed, as you toss and turn thinking about all the things you need to do tomorrow. Or maybe there was a conversation you had with someone that really bothered you.
Whatever it is, try writing it all down: Phone calls you need to make, emails you need to send, assignments needed doing, problems needed solving. Whatever is on your brain, write it down and worry about it tomorrow.
There is nothing you can do about right now anyways. Do a brain dump and focus on relaxing instead.
5) Take a warm bath
This one isn’t for everyone (not me) but taking a warm bath or shower can be very relaxing. You can even try adding Epson salts to a bath. My wife swears by this. Don’t take her word for it though. It’s been shown that magnesium based Epson salts can help with sleep.
Give it a shot. A warm bath may be exactly what you’re missing.
6) Try a meditation or sleep app
Guided meditation, bedtime stories and an assortment of “soundscapes” (ocean waves, light rain) are just a few features that people swear by.
These apps have free versions with premium upgrades if you want full access to their programs. I find the free versions are okay for a while. If this is your jam it may be worth the purchase.
You don’t have to be a yoga master to benefit from practicing some simple routines.
5-15 Minutes of stretching can calm the mind and release tension allowing your mind and body to relax.
I’m a huge fan of ROM WOD. Everyday they send subscribers a 10-20 minute video of an easy to follow yoga routine for beginners. It’s targeted at CrossFitters BUT you don’t need to lift heavy barbells to enjoy their program.
8) Read a book
Reading is a great alternative to watching television as you fall asleep. You can get lost in the story rather than your own thoughts.
It’s important to not pick anything too engaging. You wouldn’t want to be tempted to stay up later to read the next chapter. It’s meant to be relaxing and help you dose off to sleep.
My wife reads almost every night while I’m trying to sleep. I felt like I aged 20 years when I started wearing an eye mask to prevent her reading light from keeping me up. I’ll even wear earplugs if she turns on the TV. To think of it, I probably look a little ridiculous.
My Bedtime Ritual
This is of course something I messed around with for a while and may not look like yours at all. But that’s the point. Each of us are different and require a unique approach. Play around with the ideas above to see what works for you. Be patient and allow yourself to fail. You most likely won’t figure it out on your first attempt.
- Turn off electronics at 8:30pm
- Do the nighttime necessities (pack lunch, brush teeth, etc.)
- Yoga (I like to use the program ROM WOD)
- Turn off all the lights and light a candle.
10 Weeks – 6 Habits
Sometimes starting a routine can feel daunting. So many of us are overwhelmed by ALL the things we need to do, that instead we do nothing.
“I need to get better at sleep, my eating sucks, I should probably drink more water… Oh and don’t forget about that job and whole being a parent thing”.
We’ve all been there. That’s why we created the 10-Week Habitap Challenge. We break down 6 essential lifestyle habits and build 1 at a time at a pace that will set you up for long-term success. Click here to learn more and sign-up for our next challenge.
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