Last week I asked our Members and followers a simple question…
“What’s the number one thing getting in the way of your fitness right now?”
People responded with things like motivation, laziness, time, still working from home (#fuCOVID), and boredom came up a few times. The one thing that came up the most, however, surprised me.
Not only was it the most frequent response, people often followed it up with “I know sleeping better will greatly impact my health but I just can’t seem to nail this.”
As a health and fitness professional I know how important this sleep is to not only exercise recovery but more importantly mental health, relationships, job success, and overall well being.
Other well-documented benefits include:
Getting sick less frequently (more important than ever)
Lower risk of serious health issues like cardiovascular disease and diabetes
Lower levels of stress and stress hormones.
Improvements in mood and life satisfaction.
Maintaining healthy weight and fitness levels.
Greater performance and clarity when thinking.
Better decision making.
Injury reduction (from better decision making and alertness).
Greater motivation and drive to succeed.
More peak life experiences. (aka the cool shit)
If this isn’t the mic drop to convince you to focus more time and energy on getting better sleep I don’ t know what is.
And while I’m sure many of you are satisfied and content with your sleep habits, based on responses to my email there are many of you who are not. Not only that, you’re also aware of how it’s impacting your fitness and other areas of your life.
I’m no sleep doctor but I do want to share some tips and tricks that could help you catch the Zzz’s you need to live your best life.
1. Be in Bed for (at least) 7.5 to 8.5 hours.
Do to the laws of time and space, if you’re not actually in your bed for 8hrs, you will not be asleep for 8 hrs. Getting into bed after 12pm when you have to wake up at 6am means at best you will only get 6hrs of sleep. Likely, less, because in general it does take us on average 30 minute to fall asleep. As grandma always said, “Each hour of sleep before midnight is worth 2 after.”
2. Invest in your bedroom.
I’m sure you’ve heard/read that you spend 1/3 of your life asleep and you should invest in a good mattress. Taking it a step further, spending some time and effort pimping out your sleep heaven is equally as important. Purchase things like blackout curtains or window treatments, a sound machine, comfortable bedding, and essential oil diffusers to zen the f out at night.
3. Keep it cool.
Personally, this is a make or break for myself. The recommendation is to keep your bedroom in the mid-60s or cooler while you sleep. This is the only time of day Lindsay and I use air conditioning and we blast it. You can even purchase cooling bedding like a Chilipad or cooling blanket.
4. Make bedtime (and wake time) a habit.
Now, I know how hard this can be for some of you (especially with tiny humans abound) but it’s another key habit to better sleep. Hitting the pillow and waking at the same time each day can train your internal clock to sleep and wake better. Having a 3yo I know how hard this can be for parents but I believe in you!
5. Rituals, rituals, rituals.
Bookending your sleep with purposeful rituals could be another way to prepare your body for sleep. Having an evening ritual like having a cup of sleepy tea, meditation, sending a message to a loved one, or even prepping your morning could signal your brain that it’s bedtime. Knowing your morning rituals could also prep your brain for a more restful sleep and not getting jolted out of bed in the morning (again, sans chaotic tiny human(s)).
6. Ditch the screens.
This is one I’m sure we’re all painfully aware of and the recommendation is to eliminate blue light/screen time at least 60 minutes before bed. Even with new blue-light-blocking technology it’s best to let your eyes (and brain) rest. We value this one so much that it’s a family rule that no tech is allowed in the bedroom.
7. Have a caffeine cutoff.
We all know caffeine can negatively impact your sleep but did you know that the half-life your last cup of coffee can be anywhere from 2-9 hrs? That means for some of us that afternoon cup will still have us buzzing until after midnight. On that note, quantity matters too and it’s recommended to limit to 3-5 8oz cups per day (less if sleep quality is an issue). Personally, my absolute cutoff for caffeine is 2pm (ideally 12pm) or I’m going to be staring at the ceiling all night.
8. Alcohol, too.
Dun, dun, dunnnnnn. I went there. Any amount of alcohol will impact your sleep quality but the more you drank and the closer to bedtime the more it will affect your quality sleepytime. As a general rule of thumb you should stop drinking (x) hours before bed where (x) is the amount of drinks you’ve had as in general it takes 1 hours for your body to metabolize one drink. Keep in mind, spirit forward cocktails (3oz liquor) and 16oz high % beer counts as 2+ drinks. No judgement if you must, just drink (and sleep) responsibly.
Lastly, I know how challenging this can be for many of you from stress at work/life to tiny humans running around the house so please know that it’s super normal to have periods of less-than-ideal sleep. The good news is that often times this lulls in sleep quality aren’t permanent and the habits mentioned above can help you get back on track when things calm down.
If you’ve read this far and are nodding your head in agreement then I know you’re ready to take some action here and commit to improve your sleep quality. YOU ACTION-TAKER, YOU! However, like any behavior change attempt, we recommend starting small and building up from there. #OnePercentBetter
That said, what is the one habit listed above you are going to commit to improving first?
Right now, say it out loud. Write it down. Tell a friend. Or you can even email me at [email protected] for a little extra accountability. Seriously, that’s what I’m here for!
Sleep better. Be more awesome(er).
Your BFF (Best Fitness Friend),
P.S. While improving your sleep is up to you, we can totally help you stay accountable to and nail your other health and fitness goals. New to First Guess Fitness and ready to try out our fitness experts and community of people just like you?
Check out our New Member promo and get 14-days of expert coaching for only $49! CLICK HERE