The Blocks Keeping You From a Good Night of Sleep
I talk about habits a lot, as you probably know, and one of the ones I really like diving into is sleep habits. It’s one of the ones that we dive into in our 7-day healthy habit kickstart, and I like it because it’s one where you take some time RIGHT NOW to consider your sleep problems and bad habits, make some changes to your environment, and you will likely see improvement quickly. And because you’re already spending that time in bed as it is, you’re just tweaking HOW you’re sleeping, you don’t lose hours of your day on this habit. You’re not really adding or subtracting, just tweaking. (Of course, for some people, medical intervention may be required to improve sleep/deal with major issues, but for most us us, we’re just indulging in bad sleep habits.)
Bad Sleep Habits Include:
(Yes, you know these already. But how many of you are still doing them?)
- Eating or drinking alcohol close to bed
- Bringing the cell phone to bed
- Bringing work to bed—physically or emotionally
- Sleeping in a warm, light, loud bedroom
- Sleeping late on weekends, going to bed late on weeknights (anytime you try to ‘make up sleep,’ or regularly sleep 4 hours on weeknights and 10 on weekends)
- Going to bed at wildly different times every night
- Not having any kind of bedtime ritual / having trouble falling asleep
These habits are all pretty easy to fix. Set your phone on Airplane mode every night at 9PM (or whenever you decide), and set your charging station up in another room. If you usually read on your phone, consider a) getting real books out of the library or b) getting a paperwhite Kindle (they’re only $60) to read your Amazon books or even borrow digital books from the library. Set a bedtime alarm, and optimize your room for a comfortable night of sleep—that might mean blackout blinds or an eye mask; a white noise machine or earplugs.
Common Sleep Issues / Solutions:
Because sometimes, you’re not the problem—your environment or your training is!
Your partner needs it warmer/lighter/noisier than you do.
All of us have different sleep preferences, but don’t bully your significant other into meeting your sleep demands or needs. Rather, think about individual solutions: wear a sleep mask rather than getting blackout blinds, invest in noise-canceling headphones or earplugs or get a white noise machine rather than forcing complete silence; and if you run hot and she/he runs cold, consider two sets of blankets for the same bed, so you can stay comfortable under sheets while she/he snuggles under a duvet. (In extreme situations, two single mattresses pushed together make a queen-sized bed, without a mattress overheating issue.
You have kids / a dog / a loud neighbor.
Sleep disruptions happen, unfortunately. Eliminate ones that you can, like crating your dog or investing in obedience training; make your child’s room as sleep-boosting as your own; putting in earplugs to avoid the neighbor’s parties waking you up. But beyond that, work on training yourself to get back to sleep quickly, so you don’t waste even more time. A meditation app like Oak is great for this, since you can set it for a few minutes and let the guided meditation calm your mind.
You’re starving before bed, or when you wake up.
You might benefit from a half-serving of whey protein right before bed. It will help keep your blood sugar stable throughout the night, and won’t impact your ability to fall asleep the same way a normal snack would. (Similarly, a small glass of milk could do the trick!)
You overheat like crazy, all the time.
Look at when you’re training during the day. Some people run hot for hours after working out, and you might be one of them. If that’s the case, try to move your training to earlier in the day. If that’s not possible, make sure you’re cooling down properly, then cooling off in the shower and drinking plenty of cool water post-workout. Alcohol can also add to night sweating, so try to skip the booze, or at least, give yourself a few hours between drinking and bedtime. Drinking plenty of water before bed is a major help. Lastly, there are sheets designed for better cooling, and even mattress toppers that circulate cool water. (A small fan blowing on you, or even sleeping with an ice pack wrapped in a towel, can be a cheaper alternative.)