In a culture where it is a badge of honor to sleep the least and work the hardest, it is crucial to realize the importance of sleep. Every professional I work with prides themselves on how hard they work and how little sleep they can function on. These are the same people who can’t lose weight, whose bodies are inflamed, and have a myriad of unresolved health concerns. In contrast, this article is about embracing sleep and learning the top sleep strategies.
Why is Sleep so Important?
When you sleep, it’s like putting your body on the charger. During this time, you are fortifying your immune system, balancing hormones, decreasing inflammation, allowing your brain to store/process thoughts, detoxing, and ultimately healing your body. I could write a book on the list of benefits, but the point of this article is to boil down the best sleep strategies that I have personally used with high performers all over the world.
Top 5 Sleep Strategies
#1 – No Screens Before Bed
Humans once spent their evenings in relative darkness. Now, when the sun sets, TVs, computers, mobile devices, and artificial lights burn on, which disrupt your biological clock, AKA circadian rhythm. And if you’re busy, I assume you find yourself plugged into your electronics at night. The problem is that they emit an artificial blue light that triggers your body to produce daytime hormones. Research has proven that you will have decreased melatonin, throwing off your normal sleep cycle.
#2 – Calm Your Mind
Checking emails, talking about your stressful day, thinking about tomorrow’s hectic schedule, and solving the world’s problems late into the night is a recipe for disaster. It’s important to leave your baggage at the door and not specifically do things that will cause your mind to race, or cause an alarm response. This is a huge mistake I see often. These are the same people who can’t shut down at night and wake up at 3:00 a.m. with their mind racing.
#3 – Black It Out
Just as screens disrupt your sleep, plain old, regular lights do as well. It is a well-established fact that we sleep better in dark rooms. In fact, we now know that the skin receptors can actually pick up light. Brown University found that skin cells make rhodopsin, sending data to your brain and organs, and ultimately disrupting your sleep. So ditch the lights in your room; get black-out curtains and cover all LED light on your electronics with a little piece of electrical tape.
#4 – Train Like a Beast
If you find yourself in a desk chair all day, working late, getting no exercise, then you’re not alone. Just know that it is affecting your sleep. Your body is designed to move; exercising burns up that extra energy in the tank and allows you to wind down easier at night. Appalachian State University found that those who train at 7:00 a.m. in the morning get the best sleep at night.
#5 – Optimize Sleep with Supplements
This is one of the lesser-knwon sleep strategies. Poor quality sleep can easily fall into the complex issue of a nutritional problem. So let’s make this straight-forward with easy-to-implement strategies:
A.) Protein shake before bed – Find yourself waking up in the middle of the night? Try this strategy to help stabilize hormone surges related to blood sugar. I use this brand.
B.) Chamomile- A key sleep strategy! This ancient herb that is a safe sleep aid helps calm the nervous system. This makes a great bedtime tea. I buy my herbs here.
C.) Valerian – This is an herb that works as a sedative. It has proven to help individuals fall asleep faster and promote a higher quality of sleep. This also makes a great nighttime tea.
Sleep is something I find more and more of an issue for high performers. Let me know how these sleep strategies changed your life in the comments below. For additional sleep tips, listen to Episode 8 of Excel Radio Podcast. You can also check out our top selling ebook Sleep Your Way to Health.