Encouraging someone to change their eating habits is one thing, but sleep?
I’ve had better luck teaching my dog, Socks, to clean my room… (Socks is a miniature schnauzer with seemingly, no brain.)
Why is it so hard to relax and enjoy this vital natural cycle?
In high school, it was our favorite pastime…
I can sit all day and list the culprits; responsibility, providing for others, too much work/not enough play, technology, time management shortcomings, yadi yadi molina…
Poor sleep = stubborn body-fat accumulation, impaired recovery, suboptimal hormonal regulation, decreased motivation, productivity, lifespan, etc.
Improving one’s quality of sleep is the first step.
Crazy schedule and you are only getting 5 hours each night? Well let’s make those the best 5 hours you’ve slept since diapers…
1.) ZERO caffeine after 3pm. No brainer.
2.) When the sky is black, avoid excessive lighting around the house. Your body will increase the production of the “sleep hormone”, Melatonin, when the sun goes down. Artificial lighting makes this difficult.
3.) AT LEAST one hour before bed, lay the phone, TV, and computer to rest. Blue light from these are just as disruptive as light bulbs. In addition, zombies, vampires, American Idol, and grenade launchers don’t exactly ease your mind and senses. Sorry, but this includes Facebook. Read a real book.
4.) Avoid consuming a large meal immediately before bed. Low carb-ing? A starchier meal (sweet potatoes, squash, potatoes) a couple hours before might be helpful due to the restored levels of the hormone, leptin.
5.) Wind down an hour before with dim lighting, a book (chemistry always put me right to sleep), calming music (Explosions in the Sky works well) and possibly some light stretching/meditating (ohm!).
6.) Can’t get something off your mind? Jot it down on paper. Even the simplest, most ridiculous stuff can keep you up at night. I’ve had trouble falling asleep because I was involuntarily organizing workouts in my head. Write it all down and handle it the next day.
7.) Make sure your sleeping destination is COMPLETELY blacked out. If you’re still afraid of the dark, then hop into bed with mommy and she’ll rub your tummy until you fall asleep (every mom does this, right?). Purchase some blackout shades for the windows and turn the alarm clock upside down. No tiny flashes of light from the computer, phone, or night light is acceptable.
8.) Stop being cheap and keep your room cool! There’s nothing worse than waking up laminated to the bed sheets, wondering if you urinated or perspired this mess…
9.) Magnesium can provide a calming effect. Natural Calm is a great supplement recommended by Robb Wolf. You can sip it like a warm tea just before bed. ZMA is another option for those who workout intensely multiple times per week. Along with magnesium, zinc is provided as it is reduced through perspiration during intense exercise and can negatively impact recovery if not replenished.
10.) Melatonin supplementation. I consider this the “last-case scenario resort”. We wreak havoc on our endocrine system enough, so I’m not big on exogenous hormone supplementation. All in all, you might need to use this for a few days to help reset your circadian clock, so to speak.
What other suggestions might you all have? Please post to the comments.