Successful people have figured out sleep habits are the key to their success.
Developing good sleep habits is critical to connect with zzz’s and keep you at your best.
We live in the information age, are constantly connected socially or professionally, and when we want sleep we want it now.
We must have it, or we cannot function.
“Gotta get it now, gotta get it now
Gotta get it now, I’m gonna take you down.”
We’re not really singing with the Black Eyed Peas, but we are singing for zzz’s. Whether or not we catch those zzz’s partly depends on our Circadian rhythms, our bodies’ natural clocks and when they get out of whack they can take us down. That’s why our whole schedule is messed up for a week or more when the time changes. The “spring forward” when Daylight Savings Time starts keeps us from springing anywhere gleefully for a week or so until our Circadian rhythms are restored.
How much sleep do we need? Experts suggest 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep is just about right for adults.
Sleep isn’t merely a time when the body shuts off and repairs itself. While you rest, your mind is still awake repairing and restoring itself so that you can live up to your full potential.
Regularly skimp on sleep and you’re headed for a breakdown.
If there’s a breakdown it might be because you’re in bed, and still can’t catch a wink of sleep. Maybe you got sucked in to your favorite program, football went long, or you were compelled to do a last minute social network check right before bed.
Everybody does it. Right? So, what’s the problem?
Successful people have figured out the secret to sleeping well is to develop habits:
- Don’t eat right before bed
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Use the bed for sleeping
- Shut out the lights
- Don’t sleep too much
Don’t eat right before bed
This is controversial. Some experts say eating before bed is a fourth meal and extra calories. Others suggest that if you get hungry throughout the night you can benefit right before bed. For the some, eating within three hours of bed can be problematic, especially if you have reflux. Avoid trigger foods if you have a diagnosed condition.
Different body types require different nutrients, and eating a full meal before bed will likely lead to weight gain, but a light snack can be beneficial. Avoid desserts and junk foods. Complex carbs, such as whole grains or fruits and vegetables provide steady energy as you sleep.
If you have a sweet tooth, try some berries. If salt is your pleasure get a handful of nuts. Other snack ideas include an apple with peanut butter, whole grain crackers and a slice of turkey, or cheese and grapes.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
I can’t imagine morning without it. Cut your intake off early if you enjoy coffee or other caffeinated beverages as a stimulant. I don’t drink coffee after about 4 pm so it doesn’t effect my sleep.
Alcohol initially relaxes you or offers a drowsy feeling, but it increases the number of times you wake during the night.
Use the bed for sleeping
Use the bed for its intended purpose–sleeping. If you watch TV, or do work in bed it can be hard to wind down. Associate your bed with sleep, and intimate moments.
If you are an entrepreneur work can happen at any time or place, but bed is the last place you want to take your efforts.
I admit this is a work in progress for me. I wake early and work from under the covers so I don’t wake the kids, but if I tiptoe to my desk to my effort and time are more effective.
Shut out the lights
Most people sleep better when the room is dark. The darker the room the better. Bright and blue light make sleep difficult.Try blackout curtains or a sleep mask.
Don’t sleep too much
Getting enough sleep is important, and too much sleep leads to diabetes, heart disease and depression. The guidelines allow some flexibility and the 7 to 9 hour range is adequate for most healthy adults.
Jean Pierre is a physical therapist and co-founded the Barral Institute that specializes in visceral manipulation by using gentle manual therapy to aid the body to release unhealthy pain and dysfunction.
Healthy sleep is key, and if you are struggling these aids may help.
Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during the day because they boost productivity—are harmful at night. The blue light from laptops, phones, TVs makes sleep difficult because it has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light, which suppresses the sleep inducing hormone melatonin. One aid is F.lux. It is a software that can be downloaded onto your computer and mobile devices to make them look like indoor lights. If you add your location the computer screen will automatically adjust when the sun rises or sets accordingly. Blue blocker glasses are another relatively inexpensive solution and a good alternative for those who don’t want to turn off the electronics at least an hour before bed.
Still can’t catch those zzz’s?
Meditation may be the answer. Meditation is a tool for taming the voice in your head. It focuses on your breathing and bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future. It helps break the busyness in your head so that you can relax using whatever technique feels right to you. If you’d like to enjoy a trial meditation try headspace. Want to sleep like a baby? This meditation is designed to appeal to the kid in all of us. If you’ve had too little sleep, meditation may be the focus you need the next morning to increase a sense of calmness and clarity.
Weighted blankets help with anxiety disorders, autism, chronic pain and a variety of issues that impact sleep. The added weight increases the production of serotonin, which converts to melatonin, the hormone that tells the body to sleep. Serotonin boosts our mood. Then, as melatonin levels increase, we feel tired and ready to fall asleep. They aren’t cheap, but you can take them anywhere, and they are less expensive than a new mattress.
If successful sleep is elusive it may behoove you to recenter your Circadian rhythms, minimize electronic blue light, get some blue blocker glasses, use a sleep mask, meditate, or wrap up in a weighted blanket.
Please share your sleep stumbling blocks and your solutions for better sleep.
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