We've all heard that saying, "I'll sleep when I'm dead"? I caught myself saying that a few years back almost as if it were a badge of honor. It's like I was saying it to prove to people that I was working harder, longer hours and on my way to big success. In my head less sleep equaled more hours in the day to get stuff done which meant more productivity and in turn, more success. Makes sense, right?
Well, it turns out, I was going down the completely wrong path, just like many others. Most of us here in the US are suffering from a major energy crisis-- our hours are longer and more demanding than ever, competition is fierce and we see tiredness as a need for more fuel and not rest. It's almost like being tired or needing to rest is a sign of weakness. Many Americans also report believing it's possible to train your body to need less sleep. I used to believe this too....but it's a myth. No matter who you are, your body needs 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep per night and there's no way to get around this basic need.
Just last week I was talking on the phone with a client about managing her stress levels. She works extremely long hours and has a ton of work on her plate. She came to me for answers on how to de-stress and make more time for herself in her day. You want to know what I told her? Get into bed before 10PM every single weeknight...she looked at me like I was crazy. "How am I supposed to get all of my work done if I'm in bed every night by 10? How do I add in more time for me if I'm losing a couple of hours at the end of the evening?" When it comes to time management and de-stressing, it's important that we think about working smarter and not harder. I told her that if she started to get 7.5-8 hours of sleep per night instead of her normal 5, she would be much more productive throughout her day which would in turn, give her more time to spend de-stressing and doing things that she enjoys.
Sleep is one of the most influential variables for weight loss, increased brain function, hormone balance, healthy cell division, longevity and disease management. Without proper sleep, you are not performing at the top of your game. With more sleep, you will notice an increase in productivity, creativity, overall health and wellness, immune function and focus. So, you really can't afford not to get enough sleep at night because without it, you are not giving your job, family, relationships or friends the very best version of you.
According to a survey by The Better Sleep Council, over half of Americans report not sleeping well yet less than half of them take any specific steps to help them get better sleep. So, below I've outlined 6 tips to get better sleep at night so that you too can be at the very top of your game.
1. Get into bed before 10:30PM :: For most people there is a short window of time at night when you get tired. If you miss that window (between about 10-11PM) your cortisol levels spike and you get a second wind. I recommend that you get in bed by 10/1015PM on weeknights and lights out not later than 11PM. This will make falling asleep and staying asleep much easier.
2. Try Magnesium :: I love Magnesium Calm which you can buy in the supplement section at Whole Foods or online at Thrive Market. Magnesium is a calming mineral that helps you relax at night and fall asleep. I take mine about 30 minutes before I climb in bed and it helps me sleep like a baby!
3. Black Out Your Room :: It's really important that the room that you sleep in be completely dark. Any kind of light can disrupt your bodies normal sleeping process. Do your best to get rid of night lights or any other unnatural night. According to Dr. Mercola, "The slightest bit of light in your bedroom can disrupt your body’s clock and your pineal gland's melatonin production. Even the tiniest glow from your clock radio could be interfering with your sleep, so cover your radio up at night or get rid of it altogether." Quick Hack :: If you're in a hotel room and the curtains don't close all the way, which seems to happen to me whenever I travel, use the hangers in the closet with the little pants clips on them and clip the curtains closed. It's the perfect way to totally black out your room and get some awesome sleep.
4. Get Vitamin D :: Most Americans are very low in Vitamin D due to modern indoor life and low nutrition. Low levels of Vitamin D can lead to insomnia and trouble falling asleep. So, take a Vitamin D supplement in the morning and then also try to get an adequate amount by getting 10-15 minutes of sunlight per day. You can also get vitamin D from wild salmon, egg yolks and grass fed beef liver...yum!
5. Avoid Watching TV, Using Your Computer or Cell Phone an Hour Before Bed :: These devices emit blue light which tells your brain that it's still daytime. When your body thinks it's daytime it doesn't release melatonin in the right amounts so it inhibits your body from feeling tired. Hence you not being able to fall asleep. The American Medical Association states, "…nighttime electric light can disrupt circadian rhythms in humans and documents the rapidly advancing understanding from basic science of how disruption of circadian rhythmicity affects aspects of physiology with direct links to human health, such as cell cycle regulation, DNA damage response, and metabolism.”
6. Try a TBSP of Raw Local Honey :: Take 1 TBSP of raw honey on an empty stomach before bed. Raw honey replaces your liver glycogen (carb storage), which your brain uses at night, so this helps create a stable environment that promotes sleep. Try it with coconut oil so you burn both glucose and fat at night.