This lesson hits home today: sleep…or lack of sleep actually.

I was so excited to get to bed when I could get a full 8 hours of sleep.

I have a jam-packed day today that wraps up with a one-mile race this evening and a 10k in the morning.

I thought I would set myself up for good rest so I am ready to run.

Then I woke up at 3:00am…wide…awake. I tried a couple of different things, but couldn’t fall back asleep until 4:30ish. The alarm went off at 6:30am.

My schedule didn’t change with this interruption so my day goes on.

I did just try to make coffee and forgot to add water. Not on my A game, but I’ll push through it.

You can find a ton of information about sleep out there, but let’s focus on the information that you need to know to get the best results:

  • You need good sleep for a healthy, strong, lean, and fit body.
  • Most of the time, good sleep doesn’t just magically happen.
  • Similar to other habits, you can get better sleep IF you make it a priority and build good sleep habits.

Going from 0 to 100 in the morning – from super sleep to super energized – isn’t possible for many of us.

Maybe you’ve overslept and had to rush out the door frantically.  If you have, then you know the 0 to 100 feeling and how awful it feels to begin your day this way.

Likewise, going 100 to 0 is awful.  We try to fall asleep after begin amped from the days activity and being overstimulated.

The secret snooze weapon: A sleep ritual

A sleep ritual is a set of behaviors that help you transition to a restful state.

It’s a trigger for your brain that says, “Hey, let’s cool down.  Stop thinking about the to-do list and start focusing on getting some shut eye”

This is critical because you can’t control how much sleep you get. “OK, body sleep….NOW!” doesn’t work.

Add the stress of children, jobs, shift work and those random things that keep you up and it’s a recipe for a long night.  What you can control are the steps leading up to your sleep.

11 Tips for Better Sleep (Credit: Precision Nutrition)

  1. Decide on a bedtime in advance, and start planning for it 1-2 hours ahead.  It will feel earlier than you want.
  2. Limit caffeine intake to the morning and definitely not after 2p.m.
  3. 1-2 hours before bed, take out a piece of paper and do a “brain dump” of all the to-dos and things running through your mind.  Reclaim the mental real estate; everything you need now is on that piece of paper.
  4. Turn off all electronic screens an hour before bed.  The light is stimulating and can skew your internal clock. At a minimum find a screen dimming application.
  5. Make some decaf or herbal tea and read something light.  This is not just for hippies.
  6. Turn off all phones and put them in another room. Get an old school alarm clock without a lit display.
  7. Keep the bedroom a little cooler.
  8. Take an Epsom salt bath before bed.  The magnesium calms and promotes sleep (and recovery! #doublewin)
  9. Darken the bedroom.
  10. Try some white noise (a fan works well).
  11. Focus on your behaviors, rather than your outcome.  This takes practice.

Today I need to remember that last one. I set myself up for a good night of sleep, but it didn’t go quite as I planned. Moving on…

There is a chance for a nap before my run this evening so I am choosing to find the positive!

Review your sleep rituals and look for ways that you can incorporate small changes that will help you move toward a better night of sleep.

This is just one of the key habits in our coaching programs. Ready to make a lifestyle change? Let us know how we can help.

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