Two weeks ago I visited my doctor for my annual physical. One of the things we discussed was how I was sleeping. I told him, besides at least one of my children's feet in my back or face, at some point during the night, it was good. I also proudly showed him my FitBit stats, even thought I was only averaging around 6 hours of sleep.
Like a good doctor he wasn't thrilled with my sleep. And lucky for me, he teaches and lectures on sleep at UCF, so he had plenty to tell me. He ended up giving me a 2-paged paper called "Sleep Hygiene." I've never heard of it put that way. It was simple, yet informative. Probably what I got most out of the visit was just a reminder of just how important sleep is.
We understand that just like eating your vegetables, sleep is essential to good health. It could be one of the reasons you tired during the day, sluggish in your workouts or are struggling to lose weight. If you lack proper sleep, it will also cloud your mind. It can reduced your concentration levels, impair your judgment and cause confusion. Things like poor mood and increasing your likelihood of getting sick increase as well.
If you need to perform in life in anything (athlete, job, parent) not getting enough sleep will devastate your ability to do so. So I want to just drop a few tips to help you improve this, many times, overlooked subject of the ZZZ's.
1 . Track your sleep: If you have a FitBit, or I believe an Apple Watch, you can track not just how many hours of sleep you get, but also the quality.
2. With that, try to get on a schedule: I know it's difficult for some of you who have busy lives, but just like anything else that's important, schedule it. Have a 30 minute window where you will be asleep and awake, everyday.
3. Try to make that schedule include at least 7 hours of sleep: I would say 8, but that seems to be impossible for most. I've found 7 to be a number that is doable.
4. Keep your room cold and dark: Keep the temperature between 60-68 degrees and turn all lights off if possible. Even the smallest amount of light can interfere with melatonin and disrupt sleep cycles.
5. Keep your phone away from you: Radiation given off by your phone can disrupt or increase the amount of time required to reach deep sleep cycles. If you use your phone as an alarm, keep it away from you. That way you'll have to get your butt out of bed when it goes off too.
6. Read something positive before you go to sleep. It's easy to get your final scroll of the day on Instagram or Facebook. Try doing something a little more positive for your mind like reading. What goes into your mind 10 minutes before you go to bed and the 10 minutes after you awake greatly affects your subconscious mind. Read something inspirational, something positive, something that will enrich your spirit.