“I just want to get healthy.”
“I want to get back in-shape.”
“My goal is to lose some weight.”
I ask, “So what do you think you need to do?”
“Eat better.” “Start a workout routine.” “Workout more.”
I can’t remember the last time someone answering me with, “I need to sleep better.”
Sleep (believe it or not) is the first thing on your body’s agenda for optimal health and healthy bodyweight, but unfortunately last on most people’s daily agenda.
A good night’s sleep, every night, is critical for ALL aspects of your health. There is no part of your biology which can function optimally, even if you eat and exercise well, when your sleep is off. Certainly you can feel okay on suboptimal sleeping patterns if you are eating well and you are keeping your body fit through exercise. But I don’t like to deal in ‘suboptimal’. (How many people to do you know that swear they do “just fine” on 5 or 6 hours of sleep?)
However, most people actually agree and recognize that sleep is important. But there is a BIG difference between knowing vs. doing and most people seem to be largely clueless as to how to fix their sleep. Their hope is that they just go to bed one night (usually after watching all the late shows), fall into a deep sleep within minutes, and wake up the next morning, on time, and thoroughly refreshed. If only.
The biology of sleep is much more complex than this. To sort through the common sleep issues and to improve sleep it takes, at the outset, a similar set of planning, dedication, and focus as does a successful exercise routine. And like a solid fitness routine, you cannot just rock on up to it 5 minutes before you hope to throw down a PR – something far too many people attempt to with their sleep.
The fact is, there’s much about the quality of your sleep that is predicated on what you do throughout the day, long before you head towards to the bedroom. From your light exposure patterns, to your food, your caffeine intake, the timing of your exercise, and your bedroom environment; all of these factors are intertwined into your resulting sleep quality. The fact that you might have climbed into bed relatively tired, yet cannot fall asleep may very well be linked to what you had for breakfast that morning. #TruthBeTold
This is Part 1 of 2 about strategies to improving your sleep. Today (Part 1) is about what you can do right when you roll out and bed up until lunch….
1. See the Light
In order to set up good rhythms between the hormones which put you to sleep and those which wake you up, you need to get bright, natural light exposure, direct to the eyes, as early as possible in the morning. Without this, (and if your light exposure patterns in the evening are abnormal) it is likely that the hormone which should put you to sleep isn’t high enough come bed time. Plus, it would also be too high come wake up time, thus making it hard to fall asleep and hard to wake up.
Getting up and opening the curtains to get the first rays of natural light in your eyes will help suppress the hormone that is making you feel groggy in the morning (melatonin) and will help boost the hormone which helps wake you up (cortisol).
2. Eat a Big Breakfast
If you want to be able to fall asleep with ease at night, you need to be able to produce large amounts of melatonin after the sun has gone down. To produce large amounts of melatonin, you need to be able to produce large amounts of its ‘better half’, serotonin. To make large amounts of serotonin, you need to be able to get bright light in the eyes early in the day (see point 1), AND, you need to be ingesting, via your diet, large amounts of the serotonin building block, tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid, found in high-protein foods of predominantly animal origin.
Your average cereal-based breakfast just won’t cut it (and will likely make things worse). Having a high-protein breakfast (eggs, anyone?) floods your body with the prerequisite building blocks necessary to put you to sleep at night.
3. Get More Light
So you have had the first burst of light into the eyes just after awakening, and you have sat down for a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs. Filling up on more natural morning sunlight can give your body some much needed hormonal help for later that night when you need it most.
Since you’re trying to give your body the “this is morning” signal, a simple trick is to forgo sunglasses on the way to work or school. The light helps you wake up more, but also drives the conversion of your tryptophan-rich breakfast to the much needed serotonin.
Next week’s plan is tips and tricks for PM Habits to help you strategize for Better Sleep from lunch to bedtime. In the meantime HERE are 32 more TnT’s to help with your quest for better sleep and better health.
The O-Board Says…
A. EMOTM 16 Min
EVEN = 25 sec HS Hold + 10 Ring Rows
ODD = 25 sec Bar Hang + 20 Mountain Climbers
B. 2 Rounds for Time
200m Medball Run
25 DB Snatch
Post by Chris; @cmoknows