Let's look at this tip a little differently. Rather than full overhaul; let's look at from the perspective of how can I make one thing a bit better, or how can I ask a question that sparks a small amount of action. Perhaps we can start to look at something with less of an 'enduring' attitude and more of a proactive planned out attitude.
There are a number of proven things that are irrefutable when it comes to sleep. Many I have spoken about in the past. That being said lets recap a few, because I feel that even though they are basic, many times they are not being done well.
- Be ritualistic. Do a set of things that your body can recognise as 'getting ready for bed' type activities (or lack thereof). Example would be have a bit of tea, read a bit, meditate/breath purposefully. Choose your own order, test it and feel free to incorporate a few of these others in the list to fill out the bed time routine.
- Having personally tested my heart rate throughout a full nights sleep for over six months straight to monitor my sleep cycles and quality of sleep, nothing had a bigger effect on the quality than having alcohol within 1.5 hours of bed. While we can tout boozes' ability to relax and bring a person down, it was without question that it affected my overall sleep in a way that after collecting all the data, made it an unwise choice no matter the quality of the red that was consumed. ;-)
- The setup of your room matters. Temperature, darkness, noise, quality of the actual bed, pillows and sheets. I know this may seem extreme at this point but start to do a smidge of math on how much time you will spend there. Also it should be noted that recovery from not just workouts, but stress and other demands will be recovered from primarily while sleeping. Give it what it is due. Respect it. Further to number 3 is the actual use of the bedroom/ bed. 3 uses only. All S's Sex. Sickness and Sleep. 1.5 hours of tv in the bed when you are going to try and sleep in is no good. Go somewhere else and watch Seth, James or either of the Jimmy's.
Ok maybe at this point you are saying "I've heard this before Ryan". Perfect. However, hearing and doing are two different things. Choose one and put it into practice, tonight. Let us know which one you are working on so we can ask you about it along the way.
Now comes a few other things that I want to address when it comes to quality/quantity of sleep. As I alluded to at the beginning, it lies more in a question than it does anything else. What are the little things that you are putting up with during the night that you know are there but are refusing to address for fear of it being worse than it currently is?
Examples: Your child, who you know can sleep through the night continues to come into your bedroom during the night for what you deep down know are BS reasons for getting up. Another might be a pet who happens to be overly active during the night, your spouse (snoring, lights on at all hours, or loud entry and exit of the bedroom for work). Keep in mind these are all questions I have personally experienced, and may not have the solution for you, but I want you to see that sleep could likely be better for you and you have have to start thinking (and doing something) before the lights go out.
You plan business meetings and presentations at work for numerous employees and fellow team members, vacations are planned a number of months in advance and the list goes on. All of these have steps to ensure success. Why cant sleep and the routines that surround it be talked about in the same manner? Come up with a list of things that have or are currently disrupting your sleep. Choose one. Start with a simple personal list on what could be done to improve it. Second bring in a second party, (spouse or partner) ask them to explore some solutions with you. Third, seek professional help, the value of addressing one or two of the top things that affect your sleep negatively far out weighs the perceived embarrassment or cost of asking for help. Sleep matters and recovery is an important part of making progress in the gym as well as having a strong immune system and just being an overall awesome human being. Let me know know what you come up with.
- Coach Ryan