“Always remember the value of your sleep. You will perform better, make better decisions, and have a better body when you get the sleep you require. Sleep is not an obstacle we need to go around, it’s a natural state your body requires to boost your hormone function, heal your muscles, tissues and organs, and make your mind work at its optimal level. The shortcut to success is not made by bypassing dreamland. You will factually work better, be more efficient, and get more stuff done when you’re properly rested.” Shawn Stevenson from Sleep Smarter
Eating, sleeping, and moving are all a huge part of my life, and are something I practice daily. Getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthy food, and exercising daily, set me up to feel like my best energetic self. I’m going to start with sleep as the number one self care habit, because I know a lot of people have trouble with it and I think sleep is the foundation to ALL of our self care habits. If you get a good night of sleep you will wake up energetic and ready to move. You will be more likely to make that healthy meal than just grabbing fast food on the way home because you are too tired to cook. You will be more likely to get that workout in at some point during your day. Good sleep is going to set you up for success, Brian Johnson from Optimize.me says “Your day starts the night before.” If you don’t sleep well then you are already behind when you wake up in the morning. Let’s take a look and see what we can do to get the sleep our bodies need.
“Long before our sleep renaissance began, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos—ahead of the curve in so many ways—was talking about getting eight hours of sleep. ‘I’m more alert and I think more clearly,’ he told The Wall Street Journal. ‘I just feel so much better all day long if I’ve had eight hours.’ In the same article, venture capitalist Marc Andreesen talked about the lessons he learned after his sleep-deprived days launching Netscape: ‘I would spend the whole day wishing I could go home and go back to bed.’ Now he knows how to get the best out of himself: ‘I can get by on seven and a half without too much trouble. Seven and I start to degrade. Six is suboptimal. Five is a big problem. Four means I’m a zombie.’” – Arianna Huffington “The sleep revolution”
I have always been an early riser (even before Greye was born), so going to bed early has been part of my routine for a while. One of the most important things I have learned about getting a good night’s sleep is having a routine, and when I follow my routine (I call it “my protocol”, thank you Optimize.me) I get the best night’s sleep. Here are my top three things I have learned in the past year that help me get a solid night of sleep (I aim for 7-9 hours)::
1.Shut off all inputs on all technology (texts, email, instagram ALL OF IT) at 6pm.
2. No television. The best sleep I get is when I don’t watch tv before bed (blue light delays the release of melatonin). Experts say you should turn off all technology at least an hour before going to bed.
3. Give yourself enough time to sleep. If I want 8 hours of sleep I get in bed early enough for 9. We all wake up periodically throughout the night, meaning if you get to bed only giving yourself 8 hours until your alarm goes off you most likely are only getting 6-7. It’s a well known fact that I go to bed earlier than a senior citizen, but I have no shame! Tom Brady goes to bed at 830pm. Clearly Jeff Bezos gets himself to bed at a decent time to prioritize sleep. Do you think they feel bad that they are so successful and rested? Haha I don’t think so!! So figure out your sleep protocol and stick to it like glue man!
“I do go to bed very early because I’m up very early. I think that the decisions that I make always center around performance enhancement, if that makes sense. So whether that’s what I eat or what decisions I make or whether I drink or don’t drink, it’s always football-centric. I want to be the best I can be every day. I want to be the best I can be every week. I want to be the best I can be for my teammates. I love the game and I want to do it for a long time.” Tom Brady
Let’s be the best we can be (I also just love Tom even though he is no longer in New England :))!! I recommend TRACKING IT. Do you know how long you actually sleep? I know I didn’t know how long I was sleeping until I started tracking it. So this might be a good starting point or a game changer for some. I use the Whoop Band(see example of a night of sleep on my whoop), which monitors my sleep, strain, and recovery. My husband uses a Garmin watch that he loves and that pretty much tracks EVERYTHING. If you have an apple watch, download the app and start tracking your sleep tonight! Once you start tracking you can actually see what time you need to get into bed to be able to get the 8 hours of sleep you need. My Whoop even tells me how many times I woke up, and how long it took me to fall asleep. Greye loves asking in the morning, “Mom, how many disturbances did you have last night?”(I’m sure she can tell when there has been a lot :)).
“‘Doc, I know sleep is important, but how can I get enough when I have PTA meetings, little league games, friendships to maintain, and a triathlon to train for?’
Do these concerns sound familiar? Our 24/7 world makes it harder than ever to value sleep. Make a list of your goals. Do you want to be a good father to your children? Do you want to blow last year’s sales numbers out of the water and get a raise this year? Do you want to keep improving your running time for a 5k? Then ask yourself what the main things are that consume your time. Do you spend an hour after dinner watching television? Are you spending too long commuting to work because you can’t seem to get out the door before rush hour? Are you shopping online or using social networking websites? These thieves take up more of your time than you think. Focus on your goals. Cut everything else out. Make sleep a priority, and you’ll likely find that you are a more attentive father, higher performer in the workplace, and better athlete.”Dr. James Maas from “Sleep for success”
Finding the time to sleep 8 hours? Willis and I cut out TV during the week, and it really freed up more time to get the optimal 8 hours of sleep. Instead of watching a show after Greye goes to bed we talk, stretch, and read before going to bed. We even try to keep the conversation super casual so our minds can unwind before getting into bed to read. And yes we are both in bed no later than 8:30, and get up between 4:30AM and 5:15AM. You are probably saying “you are freaking nuts” but I legit LOVE my protocol! It makes me feel amazing, more productive, and more energized to take on each day. This is what works for us and is all still a work in progress. On weekends I have a hard time not staying up to watch a show or two and just chill out on the couch (I am working on it). Some nights we get better sleep than others, but add in the child variable, and life, sometimes we get to bed a lot later than we wanted. I always find it comforting to know what helps me get a good night of sleep, that If I just follow my protocol steps I can sleep well and feel great the next day. Play around with it and find what works best for you.Here are 10 of 20 tips for getting great sleep from Dr. James Maas “Power Sleep”
1. “Reduce stress as much as possible.
2. Exercise to stay fit.
3. Keep mentally stimulated during the day.
4. Eat a proper diet.
5. Stop smoking.
6. Reduce caffeine intake.
7. Avoid alcohol near bedtime.
8. Take a warm bath before bed.
9. Maintain a relaxing atmosphere in the bedroom.(a cool, dark room is best)
10. Establish a bedtime ritual…”
These tips are great, but you are probably saying I knew this already. I dug a little deeper trying to find out why we should value our sleep so much?? Listening to an interview with Shawn Stevenson from “Sleep Smarter”, he puts it really simply and says you don’t have to turn your life upside down to get a good night’s sleep. Do what works best for you. Did you know sleep literally affects your DNA?! If you don’t get enough sleep it changes our DNA. CRAZY! Want to lose weight? Shawn says if you have a good sleep cycle, studies have shown people to lose 55 percent more body fat (not weight, body fat, which is much harder to lose). Our natural melatonin speeds up metabolism as we sleep. If we don’t sleep enough, it triggers the hunger hormones called Ghrelin that makes us super hungry the next day. I don’t know about you but when I don’t sleep enough all I crave is junk food. He gives 21 tips in his book on how to sleep better, but he said if he had to pick two this is what would help you the most.
Time your exercise right. If you work out in the morning it will help you sleep better at night. Lower blood pressure, efficient, sleep longer in the deepest sleep. Not a morning person? Don’t fret! Shawn says 5 minutes of exercise is plenty. Bodyweight training, run, jump, walk, 5 minutes will help you sleep better.
Get rid of blue light. He explains this in depth, but basically all of our technology has blue light and disrupts our melatonin and messes up our sleep (plain and simple). Every hour of device use is 30 minutes of suppressed melatonin. No blue light at least an hour before bed. Set up a screen curfew.
In one of his podcasts from his show “The Model Health Show” Shawn says that the most melatonin (sleep hormone) is produced in our GUT, not our brain! Umm what?! That’s crazy! So this is where nutrition comes into play, and as you saw above exercise (movement) will help you sleep better. I’m going to touch base on both eating and moving in upcoming posts, but most importantly the food we eat is going to help us sleep. Here are Shawn’s top foods proven to help you sleep better:
1.Green bananas(I think I am the only weirdo who likes green bananas haha) So if you are normal and don’t like green bananas cut it up and put it in a smoothie, bake with it, he even mentioned organic green banana flour.
3. Green leafy vegetables
4 .Sweet potatoes
5. Sea veggies(particularly “Dulse”) the best source of potassium
6. Coconut/ coconut water
7. Salmon and mackerel
Side note: You have to be consistent EVERYDAY for this to help! Also the mushroom “Reishi” is highly recommended for a good undisturbed night of sleep. Reishi tea Again be consistent! Nothing can be changed overnight.
I am skimming the surface on all the amazing information and studies I read and listened to so far. This is ongoing and I will have to come back and write a “part 2” as I gain more information. I am super stoked to try some of these foods, and methods to get better sleep, and hope you are too! Always remember it is a practice, just like yoga practice or a doctor’s practice. It takes time and a lot of trial and error to find what works best for you and your family. Our sleep is so important and like I said earlier if you get good rest you will set up your dominoes for better nutrition choices, and more movement throughout the day. “The ageless Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Satchel Paige said it best: ‘How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?’ Too many people would say they feel or look older than they are. If that is the case, you can change it.” Phillip Masetone Who doesn’t want to live a longer, healthier life, and feel younger? Get the right amount of sleep, and change your life. Let’s start tonight, to slay the day tomorrow! Let’s be our best selves!
I have a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson by my bed that helps me silence my mind: ‘Finish every day, and be done with it. . . . You have done what you could—some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as fast as you can, tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.