As you know, I tend to talk a lot about action because it is how I am geared and it’s what actually gets things done. But what I haven’t given enough attention to is downtime through sleep. I haven’t always been the best at getting more sleep, but this is a serious change I am beginning to make in my life. After adopting a nonsensical mentality of “I’ll work now and sleep when I die” for many years to keep up with everything, this change comes from many people close to me calling it out in my own life. I just can’t keep the pace up. This kind of lifestyle has become a real epidemic in 2015 for all of us.
The thing is that I could tell you how busy I am, but my guess is that you are just as busy or may even be busier. There seems to be higher expectations, more work being given to individuals, much shorter deadlines, more people to please, and less time being given to families at home in order to finish this work. Let’s face it – most of our lack of sleep is due to stress or staying up to finish work. While more and more people push society with higher expectations, I want to challenge you to not fall for this trap. The more we give into these false standards, the more stress that we voluntarily bring upon ourselves.
I saw signs pointing to this struggle in a documentary I recently watched entitled Happy. This documentary is about what makes people happy, but in an effort to see the flip-side of happiness, the documentary also talked about Japan’s workforce literally working themselves to death. Karoshi as it has been named, is such a problem with employees due to Japan not having regulated overtime laws that people have given it a name. Yes, it looks like there is an effort to make this issue better, but I think it points to a much larger mindset we have all created – one that rewards more work and punishes the rejuvenation we need that is found in sleep.
Health not only includes eating healthy and the workouts that most people think of when they hear the word, but also sleep. Maybe when you were younger you thought you could take on the world and keep going no matter what detriment you brought to your body, but have realized that this isn’t a manageable reality. At least it’s not a reality for people who want to get more done. Action is just part of the equation of accomplishing more. You need the fuel found in sleep to finish what you started, because without it a struggle with lack of energy and burnout are both close by.
If you think that more sleep each night sounds great, but you are having trouble finding the good night’s sleep you are looking for, here are 25 tips to help you:
- Start the day out with exercise.
- Have a regular meditation time.
- Write down a to-do list for the next day to get everything out of your mind for the evening. Get ahead and stay ahead by doing this.
- Eliminate caffeine or only consume it in the early afternoon or before.
- Be smart with napping.
- Stay away from large meals at night.
- Stop drinking after 8pm.
- Implement deep breathing exercises.
- Know what is mentally relaxing and go there to unwind from stress.
- Power down an hour before bedtime.
- Set a regular bedtime.
- Wake up at the same time every day.
- Increase light exposure during the day.
- Avoid brighter lights before bedtime.
- Take a hot bath.
- Try aromatherapy.
- Dont stress about sleep.
- Paint your bedroom a softer color.
- Keep “white noise” in the background.
- Make sure bedroom is a cooler temperature.
- Make sure your room is dark at night.
- Make sure your mattress, sheets, and pillows are comfortable.
- If that fails try separate blankets in a shared bed.
- Try a more quiet alarm clock and stop hitting the snooze button to wake up more refreshed. The sleep in-between alarms isn’t good sleep.
- If all else fails, get out of bed and try something else.
Now that you have what you need to find a good night’s sleep, here are the three main benefits that getting more sleep gives individuals:
1. More sleep gives clarity and focus to “win” more often.
The photo below shows how much sleep top athletes get on a daily basis. It just goes to show how much of a priority the top athletes in the entire world values sleep. If they value sleep this much, so should we. Just as sleep helps athletes perform at their highest level and produce better results, it can do the same for all of us.
2. More sleep gives you a better attitude and outlook on life.
We have all been through times in life where we have had less sleep. It makes life much more difficult to see in a positive light. A lack of sleep can cause quick mood swings leaving us grumpy and unapproachable. It can even lead to depression. It’s almost weird to think that we can help all of this and more with sleep, but it’s true.
3. Contrary to what most people believe, adequate amounts of sleep allows you to accomplish more.
More sleep (7-9 hours) can help your memory, increase creativity, help you with your weight, lower stress, and can even contribute to living a longer life, says this article on health.com. I used to think that the longer I could extend my day with staying up to work, the more I could accomplish, but I was wrong. Sleep is the fuel for the energy we all need to help us through the day. We will actually get more done when we give ourselves the correct amount of sleep and allow ourselves to rejuvenate.