“Sleep is for the weak.”
“Sleep is a crutch.”
“You can sleep when you’re dead.”
I’ve heard each of these phrases throughout my time in the military. In fact, when I hear these phrases, most people are speaking them with some sense of irony. You know they don’t really believe it as they’re saying it, but they say it as a justification for the fact that they still aren’t getting the rest they need. Honestly, these are just excuses for people who aren’t prioritizing sleep. This is a really dangerous practice.
Even outside of the military, I hear people tell me daily how little sleep they are getting. I hear it at the gym, at work, and even from strangers at the grocery store. People claim that they can push through being sleepy as some sort of super-human power and still accomplish things as well as if they were rested. Even if that were true (which it isn’t), lack of sleep is taking it’s toll on our health as a society and as individuals.
Did you know that just one sleepless night can impair your cognitive performance as if you were legally drunk (0.1% blood alcohol)? Or how about this statistic…Just 1 night of less than 7 hours of sleep can negatively impact your hormones, decrease your immune system, increase high blood pressure, and promote fat storage. How often do you get less than 7 hours of sleep? My guess is that for many of you, that’s often. Lack of quality sleep is really taking a silent toll on your health, whether you know it or not. If you have any kind of challenges with your body and health, including poor hormones, fertility, sickness, high blood pressure, autoimmune issues, depression or any other mindset challenges, sleep is a double must-have.
My goal isn’t to make you feel bad or add guilt to your day. What I really want is for people to understand that sleep isn’t something to be sacrificed, even for a day or two. Sleep is the master key to unlocking health, and without it, you won’t likely be successful in other areas.
Managing time for relationships, kids, work, school, self-care and life is really hard. We all want to do it all, but we just can’t do everything. First, you need to prioritize your day to make room for sleep. Yep – I know that’s really hard. It may mean making some serious sacrifices. Consider saying “no” to some things you currently say “yes” to. Consider outsourcing some of your current daily tasks – you can always find someone to do your chores and errands, whether it be online or in your neighborhood. Find efficiencies in your time where you can. Can you do your shopping online for the week so you don’t have to do it in person? I buy as much of my groceries and personal care items online so I don’t waste my valuable evening time doing errands. Take a good hard look at the things you need to do vs. want to do on a daily basis and try to make more time for yourself. Also, I know you know this, but you don’t need to be on social media every 5 seconds. That alone will free up at least an hour in your day. Also, try enacting a rule that says you need to have 6.5 hours of sleep before you step foot in a gym or workout. Healthy sleep and improved physical performance go hand in hand.
Next, create good sleep habits by creating an evening ritual.
Here is my 7 step evening ritual for better sleep.
- Turn off the TV at least an hour before bed (or don’t watch it at all).
- Make a short list of what you plan to accomplish tomorrow, then put that away. This will allow you to stop thinking and stressing about tomorrow.
- Plug your phone in, set your wake up alarm and ignore it for the rest of the night. Preferably, plug it in somewhere other than your nightstand so you aren’t tempted to go back to it later. If necessary, this may mean getting an old school alarm clock that isn’t your phone.
- Lay your clothes out for the morning.
- Take a warm shower whether you need it or not – it will relax you for bed..
- During your shower, take inventory of 1 great thing that happened that day and practice your gratitude.
- Put some essential oils on your pillow and wrists and breathe deeply for 2 minutes. I personally use a mixture of Lavender, Cedarwood and Vetiver.
- Go to sleep! Repeat this every night for a minimum of 3 weeks. I promise you’ll see some positive results.
After you implement these, I’d love to hear your results!