Monday, June 25, 2012

The Better Science Of Sleep

There is a thing out there that is harder to deal with than any weight issue. It's worse than any food addiction. It's poor sleep, insomnia, and a host of other sleep problems. Having had several clients with this issue, more than anything else, this common thing has hampered more training, created more cancellations than anything else.

Basically before work is a hard time to train because they were up all night, they can't get out of bed to come and train. Forget about after work, because they are so tired from their day because they never got to recover the night before, they are a useless zombie.

It makes you irritable in the morning, you can't be alert, you're not pleasant to be around, and most of all, you lack any amount of energy to do anything. This is also a common issue of why people burn out at their jobs and turn to other stimulants.

So how can we get anyone to their goals before they resolve this common but major issue?

The most important thing anyone needs to succeed at anything isn't time. Its energy. And its miserable and depressing to have no energy. Instead of masking the problem, its better to resolve the underlying issue.

So here are my tips:

Make sleep a routine. Meaning you actually have a body clock. Its called your circadian rhythm. You set it every night you go to sleep. If you sleep at the same time every night but change it up one night or on weekends, it disrupts the whole pattern. So if you sleep at 11PM every night then all of a sudden go to bed at 3AM, you will disrupt all your subsequent sleep cycles, you may fall asleep at 3 but your body will wake up over and over throughout the night. Also your body knows when the sun rises and sets, we have been evolved to sleep according to that and so if you don't, even if you get 8 hours you will still be tired.

Avoid excess alcohol or chemical use. Meaning drinks, caffeine, cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, or recreational drugs. They may make you fall asleep but it will be a restless sleep cycle where your body may wake up, up to 20 times.

Avoid naps unless they are part of a routine. Remember it's not about falling asleep only. Its also about your body staying asleep.

Have a worry book and light by your bed. People's minds can't stop thinking. Keep the notebook by your bed, every time you think about something, write it down and forget about it. Your body won't let go of thoughts because it is afraid you will forget. So have a light and notebook ready.

Exercise. It helps you sleep. It does. Just don't do it too close to bed time.

Wake-Up Light

Use this alarm. It has helped me with overall mood and energy. I used to hate my alarm because no matter what setting I used, it startled me every morning and I would start the day with an adrenaline dump. Also it didn't really wake me up, it just surprised me. After I turn it off I am sleepy, groggy, and tired. With this it slowly gets brighter over a 30 minute period acting like the sun, not only waking you up but resetting your sleep cycle and making your body think its rising to the sun. It also makes bird sounds that get pretty loud as well. Once you turn it off the light stays on. Key is after this point to not allow yourself to be in darkness again. This will improve your energy.

NatureBright SunTouch Lamp

This you can keep by your computer or on your kitchen table as you eat. 30 minutes or so on and it will recharge you as if you were outside on a bright day. There are things we have been evolved to respond to, water, fire, light, and darkness. This will also help reset your circadian rhythm so you can create that sleep routine I mentioned earlier.

We are big on self optimization with our clients and sleep is a key area to improve overall health. In studies where they took twin sisters, and worked them out the same and fed them the same, but deprived one of sleep, the one deprived of sleep gained weight.

I recently wrote about Michelle who lost 13lbs in 2 weeks. One of her key strategies was eating dinner early and going to bed early.
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