Okay, so you hit the ‘snooze button,’ for the fifth time, what is the big deal? Well the big deal could be that you are not getting enough sleep. Consequently, it is costing you money, your relationships, making you gain weight, and overall – feel simply nasty.
According to the Centers for Disease Control more than a third of Americans are not getting enough sleep which is stated at seven, or more, hours per night and it is a public health problem with the following consequences:
- Motor vehicle crashes
- Industrial disasters
- Medical errors
- Weight gain
- Increased mortality
- Reduced quality of life
Seriously, if that isn’t enough to make you reconsider staying up late and binge watching Netflix, a study by Everson et. al in 1989, on rats, found that depriving the rodents of sleep was more lethal than depriving them of food. The rats died, or came close to it, within 11-32 days. The National Academy of Sleep Medicine also concludes that sleeping consistently less than six hours will elevate blood pressure, increase weight gain, be a catalyst for numerous diseases, and could frankly lead to an early death.
The bottom line is that if you want to be productive, happy, and healthy – you need to sleep!
Yes, I have written about sleep before. I have done videos on sleep and yet, I keep coming back to it because time and again, when I speak to students and clients, who profess to want more in their lives, they are failing to create a solid foundation to make ‘more’ happen and the most common roadblock to success is poor sleep. One client wants to lose weight and make more money. Their relationship is also suffering however at two in the morning, this client is still awake and wasting time online. Until they start sleeping more than four hours per night, they are not likely to get to the next level.
Sleep is the unsung hero of our lives and the much-overlooked key to the results we want to achieve. To me, sleep is sexier than a new Louis Vuitton handbag, and even more appealing than a new Porsche. Sleep, in my opinion, is a bigger status symbol than the square footage of our homes. As someone who used to claim that she would sleep when she was dead, burned the proverbial candle at both ends, and became decidedly sick, I cannot emphasize enough how powerful getting enough sleep is.
Getting enough sleep wasn’t always a priority and certainly more went into shifting my habits than simply making a decision – it took work, trial and error, discipline, and resolve. The biggest aspect was learning to let go and let God; no matter what was going on by nine at night, I needed to go to bed. Sleep was imperative and I realized that all challenges, and projects, were going to be handled with greater aptitude if I was functioning on seven to eight hours of sleep.
As a mother of five, owner of several businesses, author, speaker, and someone who wants to make every moment count, there are always things that ‘need’ to be done. Someone requires help with homework. Someone else wants advice. Business colleagues want to set up meetings, and calls; there is an endless stream of requests for my time however I can’t be good to anyone if I am exhausted, irritable, and not thinking clearly. I can’t feel good about myself if my body is inflamed from stress hormones, my skin is broken out, and I have a muffin top despite working out and eating clean because my body is holding onto fat due to lack of sleep.
It is my wish, if you are part of the sleep deprived nation, that you too will embrace sleep as a status symbol. You may be struggling to get to sleep at a reasonable hour like I was and lying awake counting sheep isn’t working. When I decided to get off the sleep deprived crazy train, I implemented the following 8 effective strategies and within days I was able to sleep solidly through the night:
1. Keep the Phone and Laptop Out of the Bedroom
My IPhone stays in my office charging while I sleep. I even put it to bed in a lovely EMF blocking pouch. If my phone is in the room with me, I do not have a peaceful sleep. Psychologically my phone is associated with work and if it is near me, I am thinking about all of the things I want to get done. It is too much for my brain to process while I am resting.
The laptop doesn’t come into the bedroom. I associate my bed with two things (one of which I have been talking about and the other…you can figure that out). There is no room for a third. I absolutely do not work in bed unless I am ill and I certainly do not do work right before I am trying to fall asleep.
2. Get Everyone Organized
Our children are currently 7, 11, 14, 20, and 23. We have programs, projects, assignments, and life. I do not want my kids working late into the evening. It is not healthy for them and it is not healthy for me. As soon as they get home, they focus on getting their homework done. They know that when they walk in the door it is not time to play, it is time to work. We have afterschool programs as well and regardless, they are doing homework as soon as the program is over.
From pre-planning meals to grocery store runs to anything involved in the family – we work hard to be organized so no one is staying up late. Children especially require sleep and more studies are illustrating that they are also getting less sleep and this could be one contributor to the childhood obesity epidemic.
3. Invest in a Running Watch
I suggest that my clients invest in a running watch – one that they can use as an alarm and also to time them for tasks. I now wake up before the alarm however I leave the watch on my bedside table. It doesn’t have ambient light and I have a much more peaceful sleep.
4. Meditate and Pray
Before going to sleep, I meditate and pray, for about fifteen minutes. This calms my mind and allows me to lay out for God any challenges I require guidance on. My guided meditation, ‘The Shift’ helps many people have a deeper and restful sleep. People come up to me at events and tell me that they put it on and barely make it for five minutes before falling into a sound slumber.
Another bedtime ritual that works well is reading fiction or a biography. Currently I am reading Megyn Kelly’s biography, ‘Settle For More,’ which I am loving. I read many books on productivity, finance, and personal empowerment. I leave these for the morning as they tend to get my mind going and that is not the goal before bed.
6. Use Natural Products
Gaia makes an amazing formula called ‘Sleep Through.’ I also like Herbalogics, ‘Solid Eight.’ For some, melatonin can be stimulating and I am one of these people. It can give me crazy dreams or keep me up. I do take adaptogens before bed and sometimes sip on a tea with valerian root. Sleep medications can be addicting so always take a natural route first.
7. Avoid Sugar and Caffeine
I am not a dessert eater however on the rare occasion that I do have something sweet at night, I have a horrible sleep. Caffeine also affects me adversely. I tend to have coffee first thing and then switch to yerba matte tea until noon. After that, I refrain from caffeine. Everyone is different however if you are challenged to get into bed on time, try avoiding the sugar and caffeine.
8. Do a Second Workout
Not everyone has the luxury of doing this however it is a great idea on days that are highly stressful. It could be as simple as a family walk after dinner or twenty minutes of yoga and stretching. If it has been a day full of wall kicking moments, exercise that gets the stress out is key. My clients are taught to workout in the morning because life happens in the day and statistically people who workout at night get less exercise. If you have the time, and need to unwind, go for a powerwalk instead of downing wine and watching television.
I would love to hear how you are making an effort to get more sleep. Please feel free to comment on this blog and yes, we do read them. If you have an idea for a podcast, blog, or video, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
Susan Sly is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, certified NLP practitioner, coach, and trauma recovery specialist. Susan specializes in helping people become more productive so they can lead ridiculously fulfilling lives. She is the mother of five and has been working in human potential for over two decades.