Do you know what the number one overlooked piece of the health pie is? Sleep! We truly deserve to get better sleep!
We try to stick to a healthy diet, workout, and squeeze stress balls. But we usually ignore learning about better sleep.
This guide incorporates the process I use with my clients, helping them get the best sleep of their lives, lose weight, and wake up energized.
So, the question is: HOW do we get more sleep?
Chapter 1 – Why We Need Sleep
Chapter 2 – What’s More Important, Quality VS Quantity
Chapter 3 – Blue Light and Melatonin Effect Our Sleep
Chapter 4 – What Is Really Keeping You Awake?
Chapter 5 – New Routines To Sleep Better
Bonus: The Get Better Sleep Cocktail Recipe
Why We Need Sleep
Essentially, we need sleep for three reasons: to retain, restore, and heal.
If we can’t retain what we learn, did we actually learn anything? The short answer is both yes and no.
Our brains improve our retention while we sleep, undergoing a memory filing process that is still not fully understood by neuroscientists.
Jim Kwik, a world expert in speed-reading, memory improvement, and optimal brain performance, has struggled with sleep for many years. He attributes much of his success to making sleep a priority and developing natural sleep hygiene.
Jim is quite a talented guy! He can recite 100 random numbers backward while live on stage in front of hundreds of people. He doesn’t do this to show off. Instead, he proves that anyone can show a marked improvement in their memory.
So, if you want to improve your memory or just get a little ahead compared to your peers, getting better sleep is a mandatory element in both learning and retaining what we learn.
Why? Because your body can’t fully restore while you are on the go!
During the day, your body accumulates toxins, especially the brain. Sleeping clears your body of these toxins and restores balance (homeostasis). If this does not happen, we may end up with neurological disorders due to the toxins that build up in the brain.
You know those hunger pangs and crazy bear growls that come from your stomach sometimes? That’s your body sending you signals to notify you it’s time to eat.
In the same way, we also have signals to remind us to go to bed. Unfortunately, these signals don’t growl at us.
Sleep is necessary for repairing tissues, growing muscle, and for a whole lot of other bodily functions. Many of our resources are diverted to various parts of the body for healing when we sleep. These processes can’t take place while we are awake.
These are but a few of the reasons why we need sleep. Scientists, however, are still stumped as to the exact reasons why we sleep. There are many interesting sleep theories have been the subject of discussion amongst scientists over the years to answer just that question. One of these is a Harvard Sleep Medicine article that talks about some of these theories. Study sleep it’s a sure way to get better sleep.
What’s More Important, Quality Or Quantity?
It’s no secret that most of western culture struggles to get enough sleep. We hear that we need to sleep at least 8 hours every night.
Most of the sleep science world is in agreement that adults need somewhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep to reap the physical and mental benefits.
It’s important to note that from time to time we hear about the outliers and we should never misinterpret them as the average.
President Trump reportedly sleeps less than four hours a night and other well known successful people like Tim Cook, Martha Stewart, and more have revealed the same. These individuals comprise somewhere between 1-5% of the population.
A study published in 2009 showed a gene mutation that could be responsible for the difference in sleep quantity for that small piece of the population. There are many strong correlations between people’s genotypes (genetic make-up of an organism) and the quantity of their sleep.
Maybe in the next five to ten years you’ll go to the doctor and buy a better gene mutation. This isn’t to far away from some of Kevin Kelly’s predictions.
Now that you know 95-99% of us don’t have a specific genetic difference that lets us sleep less, you probably need to be getting more sleep.
The Center of Disease Control (CDC) also makes it clear, “Good sleep quality is also essential. The signs of poor sleep quality include not feeling rested even after getting enough sleep, repeatedly waking up during the night, and experiencing symptoms of sleep disorders. Improving sleep quality may be helped by better sleep habits.”
Do not roll the dice with your health, get a quality and quantity night’s sleep. I know this isn’t always possible and for those situations, I have solutions.
Keep reading, let me show you more on how to get better sleep.
Get The Benefits With Less Sleep
Sleep is no different than any other aspect of our health, the more focus you dedicate, the better off you will be.
However, it’s not always possible to get the full 7-9 hours of sleep. On the days we can’t get the quantity, we can mitigate the risk by tripling down on the quality of sleep we get.
The key to optimizing your quantity is through creating the proper sleep habits. These habits don’t have to consume you or take time out of your evening. In fact, I’m going to give you step by step instructions on which habits to build and tell you the sleep tips you need to throw out.
Blue Light and Melatonin Effect Our Sleep
As our bodies are connected to the earth, our internal clock (circadian rhythm) is disrupted by even the slightest amount of light.
This disruption is usually very welcome when you’re waking up in the morning. The sun rises and sets off a hormonal response in your body, telling it to wake up. The sun, however, isn’t the only light that elicits this response. Blue light, a “high energy” light, also does this.
Blue light is at the end of the light spectrum, right next to ultra-violet light – aka the invisible light from the sun that you never want to stare at.
Although this guide does not go into the details about how light affects your eyes, I want it to be quite clear that there is not much of a difference as to how sunlight and the blue light from our electronic devices affect us.
When we stare at an electronic device of choice before we go to bed we are duplicating the sun rising. Now, the sun rising in the morning is quite natural, but when we duplicate this effect when we are supposed to be going to bed, we are, in effect, telling our body to stay awake. Not good!
Given the influence that light has on us, we need to become masters of light exposure. If we were in the position where we could control our light exposure, we could influence our sleep patterns and maximize our quality of sleep.
You see, there are two keys times of the day you need to focus on – morning and evening, i.e. when you wake up, and when you fall asleep. Of course, the exact times for waking and going to sleep depend on the person and their lifestyle, but the principles don’t change, they stay exactly the same.
Ideally, you need to allow light into the bedroom more or less the same time each day. This kick-starts the waking cycle. Of course, if you are lucky enough to let natural sunlight wake you, even better, as it is the most natural way of waking.
But waking from natural sunlight is not always possible. You have to factor in the time of year and how early you need to start your day. I usually wake up around 4:30-5:00 am. The sun is not waiting to greet me at that time of the morning. Wouldn’t that be a nice way to get better sleep?
So how do I start my waking cycle? I use three tactics to kick-start my waking cycle, and I am going to explain them to you.
A wake-up light is similar to a normal alarm clock but there is one major difference – you set it up to start waking you about 20-60minutes before you actually want to wake up. The wake-up light alarm clock uses a light that simulates the rising sun, slowly getting brighter and brighter until it’s time to wake up.
In my personal opinion, this is the next best way to waking up after natural sunlight. Phillips has a pretty good monopoly on these alarm clocks and their Amazon Reviews are great. I haven’t tried any other brands. There are several older Phillips models that I know work pretty. You can check them out here if you are interested in getting one.
2) Cold Water Immersion
Now if you really want to push yourself in the morning and accept a challenge, this is it! A cold water immersion is similar to a ring in the spring polar plunge except you’re doing it every morning. Who doesn’t feel more awake after that!?
Tony Robbins does this at his home and plunges into a 57-degree Fahrenheit pool of water every morning. I’ve never seen Tony lack any energy, have you? He has a good article on his website with all the benefits of a cold water wake-up call, here.
I don’t have a pool at my house yet, but I do use the shower for this occasionally, or at the very least, I douse my head with cold water in the sink.
Bonus Note: I challenge you to do this and post a video of it. Make sure you tag me and someone else and challenge them to do it!
3) Dance, Move, Sing
If cold water isn’t your thing but you still need that extra pep in your step, you need to send your body a strong message to rise and shine!
I also have a morning “get-down”, which I should really call a get-up, but let’s continue.
If you head to the bathroom first thing in the morning, you can use it as your morning mosh pit/concert hall.
Start by pulling up a song that gets you empowered and excited about life in the morning. Many people suggest actually using this song this as an alarm beeper, but I disagree. Doing so may have you associating your favorite song with a potential negative thought, “damn I have to wake up now”.
Start out by moving the body any which way you desire. I prefer using the wall and doing 20-30 standing hip hinges. I tap the wall with my butt, squeeze my glutes, and breath deep breaths at the same time.
After my first few reps of hip hinges, it turns into more of a dance/exercise/American Idols routine all wrapped into one.
I HIGHLY recommend this. Let out your crazy, natural self (no one is watching). Start your morning off with energy and a passionate spirit.
You can add your partner or spouse into the mix and really get the day started in the right direction! Share the waking madness. If 100 people share this article, I will post a video of us getting cray cray in the morning.
Melatonin might be an over the counter drug that you have taken to get better sleep in the past. It can work really well, but it’s common for users to take too much and wake up groggy, not to mention its other potential negative side effects.
Melatonin is actually produced naturally by your body, but, because of unnatural sleep habits and bedtime routines, not enough melatonin is produced by the time bedtime arrives.
You can still read your Kindle, play with your iPhone, or watch TV, but you need to protect yourself from melatonin-suppressing blue light. The idea is for your body to produce this hormone naturally. Taking a sleeping pill in order to get better sleep isn’t a permanent solution to fixing your sleep problem.
Still Watch Your Shows and Text Kissy Emojis Late Night
I have two alternatives that signal your body to produce this hormone naturally – without the need for drugs.
My favorite sleep app for my computer is “f.lux”.
F.lux blocks blue light and other low light frequencies from disrupting your circadian rhythm.
It works in your computer’s background for several hours leading up to bedtime. This lets me type awesome blog posts like this one before going to bed and not have to worry about my sleep.
My second alternative almost ruined my engagement, but somehow, amazingly, my fiancé still married me. I’m kidding! My second favorite sleep habit didn’t scare her away, but she and her friends laugh about it quite often. Would you bet I get better sleep? Exactly!
I wear blue light (UV) blocking glasses 2-3 hours before bed. That’s right! I wear orange shades in my house for several hours before I go to bed.
This is my favorite method of blocking out UV light!
I can go from one device to another without any issues. Here is the link if you’re interested in trying them out to get better sleep.
Some of my clients took the leap of faith and had their sleep transform overnight by only making these two simple changes!
In our fast-paced modern society, many of us rely on synthetic ways to fall asleep and wake up.
Finding natural ways to sleep better will allow you to enjoy the health benefits of sleep, ensure a higher payoff from your workouts, and stabilize your energy throughout the day.
For many of us, it takes a horse tranquilizer and a nightcap to finally fall asleep. Of course, you need a venti chocolate mocha-toka-latte to get your morning started!
And then the cravings hit you, you lose energy, your willpower withers away, and you end up making un-healthy snack choices for the rest of the day.
By the time the end of your workday comes around you don’t have any energy left for the gym let alone cooking a healthy meal at home. The fatigue ends up pulling you towards the closest drive-thru on the way home.
Does this sound familiar?
The thing is, this routine is slowly causing your health to deteriorate! So the question is, how do you get better sleep that you need to stop the cycle?
Practice Natural Ways to Sleep Better
Developing an evening routine can be one of the most influential
One of the best sleep hacks most people fail on is developing an evening routine. Life sees us with plans, schedules, and routines. Why are we not also purposeful when it comes to getting better sleep naturally?
Practicing a routine can take time and is not intended to bring more stress into your life. Try adding one to three practices to your evening routine before going to bed.
Most people already have a bedtime routine but don’t really pay much attention to it. Do you brush your teeth? Do you fall asleep with your work clothes on or off? These are routines. But you can add to your routine to get better sleep.
New Routines To Get Better Sleep
The clearing or dumping routine is one of my favorites. This can be accomplished by Meditating, praying, or doing yoga to clear your mind of all the day’s hustle and bustle. There are many different ways to meditate, but just focusing on your breathing and becoming mindful of your thoughts is a great start. This is a popular choice for people to relax before they fall asleep.
You could also consider keeping a journal and enter thoughts about your day or answer questions to unwind before getting under the covers and closing your eyes. These questions could be “What am I grateful for? What three things went down well today? What did I most enjoy about my day?” etc. There are also journals that you can buy, like the very popular “5 Minute Journal” or my other favorite the “Panda Planner“.
Try getting creative with the habits you add to your evening routine and have fun doing it! No more horse tranquilizers! It’s time you became mindful of your sleep.
There are no more excuses. You now possess the tools to get better sleep naturally and boost your fitness results to a whole new level.
Natural sleep means a better quality of sleep. A better quality of sleep means optimal rebuilding of the body.This will not only boost weight loss and give you more energy but leave you with a more fulfilled life and have you on track to get better sleep.
Lift Life Fit Freaks!
The Get Better Sleep Cocktail Recipe
The Ingredients Links to Check Out or Buy that Promote Better Sleep
I hope you liked this article! Please let me know, won’t you? But there is plenty more! So be sure to sign up for my Free Newsletter, and be sure not to miss an article or video! Very few things are for free, and these are some of them!
P.S. If you thought this post was great, read up on “How to Fall Asleep Fast”! It gives tips on falling asleep fast. But, more importantly, it helps you STAY asleep!
Hope to catch you next time!