We live in a culture that doesn't value sleep and rest. There is HUGE push back against the need for more shuteye. It's frowned upon if you go to sleep early.. naps are only for babies!
I had the unique opportunity to observe one of Dr. Kirk Parlsey's lectures last week on the effects of sleep deprivation related to health, performance and PTSD. You may have heard of Doc Parsley. He has been on numerous Robb Wolf podcasts, featured on PaleoFX, TED talks, etc.
It was absolutely fascinating to hear how SLEEP is the solution to a lot of the problems that plague our country.
There is a vicious cycle involved with sleep deprivation according to Dr. Kirk Parsley
- Poor sleep >>>> Hormonal Changes
- Hormonal changes >>>> Poor Sleep
- Increased Stressors >>>> Hormonal Changes
- Hormonal Changes >>>> Decrease Stress Tolerance
- Chronic Pain/Inflammation >>>> Hormonal Changes
- Hormonal Changes >>>> Chronic Pain/Inflammation
And so on.... I highly encourage you to check out his FAQ page. Doc Parsley answers questions about sleep related to fat loss, depression, nutrition, your sex life... sleep aids, naps, shift work, etc.
Bottom line, we need to be sleeping a lot more than we allow ourselves. Adults need 7-9 hours of QUALITY sleep. Laying in your bed with your eyes closed doesn't mean you're getting quality sleep.
Now we know WHY we need to sleep more but many of us struggle to fall and stay asleep.
Here are some tips to help you get to sleep faster:
- Develop a routine. Even though we are adults, it's just as important to have a bedtime routine as parents create for their children. You should have a series of things you do that become systematic. You do things in the same order each night to signal to your body that you're preparing for sleep. Pack your lunch for the next day, shower, read a bit and then lights out. Whatever routine works for you, stick to it. This routine should be low stress, calming and should lead to falling asleep. Make it a habit.
- Avoid blue light at night time. This is a pretty major one... Blue wavelengths mimic those of the sun...it's VERY disruptive to melatonin production (a hormone secreted to regulate your body's circadium rhythm). What has blue light? ELECTRONICS. TVs, phones, tablets, computers... establish a time where you stop using electronics well before sleep time. If you MUST use electronics, you should consider wearing some sweet amber glasses/blueblockers. Ya, they look creepy but you're at home and sleep will make you look more sexy than not sleeping.
- Eliminate light sources in your bedroom... cover your alarm clock, any devices with power lights. Get yourself some black out curtains.
- Reduce your stress. Do some yoga (I personally do ROMWODs each night). Listen to a meditation podcast (check out the Chopra Center for Wellbeing by David Ji).
- Color!! As silly as it may sound, coloring is very relaxing and mindless. According to this study, its the best alternative to meditation. Think about how you use to tune out while coloring...your only focus is on the one color you're working with. You can buy some adult coloring books on Amazon here.
- Supplement with Magnesium. Magnesium is a powerful relaxation mineral. Unless you're eating a diet rich in dark greens, nuts and beans...you're probably lacking in the Magnesium department. The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate taurate, or aspartate, although magnesium bound to Kreb cycle chelates (malate, succinate, fumarate) are also good. Avoid magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide. They are poorly absorbed (and the cheapest and most common forms found in supplements).
There you have it folks: eat a nutritious diet devoid of processed crap, exercise, de-stress with relaxing activities, come up with a bed time routine and sleep 7-9 hours each night.
-Nicole Race, Co-Owner/Coach at St. Pete Strength and Conditioning, home of SPSC Crossfit