Most people do not sleep enough (shocking, right?).
While I think this mostly has to do with priorities, there are still a lot of people who do not know why this could be sabotaging their goals.
Rather than jump into the science of it or provide a million links for “proof” (go test it yourself), I am just going to say this:
Before going on a diet or starting an exercise routine or creating any new habit for that matter, we should focus on getting enough sleep first.
Here is a post to help you with that.
HOW TO GET MORE SLEEP
Your sleeping environment should be:
- A little cold
- Dark (as can be).
- Floor or mattress, neither not too soft or too hard.
- And maybe some white noise (I prefer a fan).
1. The Brain Dump
We spend all day – whether conscious or not – taking in information and different stimuli. This information then has sex with our prior knowledge which produces little babies called thoughts, ideas, and plans. If we do not have a crib for these babies (which are very stimulating stuff), they will keep us up at night. Notebooks, whiteboards, and tape recorders all work as cribs.
2. Choose Boring Things
Makes sense, right? Here is what works for me:
I cannot watch The Walking Dead right before bedtime. No way, no how. It’s just as powerful as a cup of coffee. What does work (and I actually do like) is Ancient Aliens or Through the Wormhole:
Magazines on various topics or fiction books.
Light stuff such a Chillstep, classical, meditative, and Pink Floyd.
Caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants generally have a half-life of 4 – 8 hours. So that means if you have a cup of coffee at 4 pm, then half that amount is still in your system around midnight. Think this will affect your sleep? You’re right.
So, if your sleep is a bit off, try having a cut-off time for stimulants (mine is 1 pm).
Now if your sleep is still wack, it could be that emotional stress is just too high. If you are having trouble changing your perception of it, you may need to look towards relaxants.
My favorite of these is ZMA. One of it’s chief ingredients, magnesium, is nature’s valium (ie, it helps us cope with stress). Other ones that work well are L-theanine (found in tea), 5-htp (by raising serotonin), and valerian root.
If you really, really cannot sleep, you may want to give melatonin a shot. While long-term use is not recommended, it may help coax your body into developing a better habit.
[ For more on these, refer to #6 in “Supplements: Why, What, When, and How”]
Here are some more things that may help:
- Early morning sunlight (to raise serotonin levels)
- Sex (for guys at least)
- Warm baths
- Moving exercise to the mornings
- Completely exhausting yourself
- Blue Blocker sunglasses after sundown
- Using lavender oil (place some behind the ears)
- Trying different food combinations
==> Sleep is the game changer.
This is the most important part of the health and fitness game.
Without it, eating nutritious foods will become that much harder. So will the act of adopting a positive mindset. And exercise? Good luck trying to see gains when you take away the recovery time.
Only a very small % of the population ( <5 ) will be actually able to function optimally off 6 hours or less of sleep a night.
Are you one of them? You will have to see what it feels like to get 8 – 9 hrs a night first.