Sleeping is just as important a factor in good health as is exercising and eating properly. Yet the variables that ensures good sleep is so often neglected. I think a lot of that has to do with it being a pretty boring component of well-being.
What do I mean by that? When you exercise, there is movement; there is progress both in how you look and how you feel. In how fast you run or how much you lift. It is quantifiable. It is visible.
The same can be said about eating. Eating right shows in fat loss and/or muscle gain. In how your clothes fit. In how you look in the mirror. How you are complimented by friends and family. Again, it is quantifiable, it is visible.
With sleeping, there is none of that. It is static. You don’t watch yourself sleeping. It is not visible. Someone doesn’t compliment you on your sleep, unless of course your spouse does because you didn’t snore that night!
So because sleeping can be considered boring, getting a good night’s sleep is so often ignored. This is sad because it can completely derail your exercise and good eating habits.
Like anything in life, if you are going to be successful at it you have to make it a priority. Keep a consistent sleep and wake up schedule. Your body is a creature of habit. Plan your day around your sleep schedule and stick to it. This is no different than planning your meals or exercise schedule.
One stretches before exercising, sleep is very similar. Have a pre-sleep ritual such as reading a book, listening to relaxing music, soaking in a hot tub or meditating/praying in a quiet place. This will start the separation in your mind of the stressors you had during the day and put you in a restful state of mind.
After your pre-sleep ritual, if you still find your mind racing through the days events, try repeating a mantra that is peaceful and relaxing. Keep repeating it in your head over and over. Studies have shown that this cuts the brain off from thinking of other random things which normally keeps people awake at night.
For example, I love the outdoors and nature.So I usually repeat three words with visuals that reflect their meaning “Nature, Peace, Sleep”. As I slowly say this, I think of beach, forest and mountain settings. Things that put me at ease.
Create the right environment in your bedroom. Make it as dark and sound proof as possible. Even the slightest of light can inhibit deep sleep.
Keep anything related to work or a stressor out of the bedroom. The bedroom is your temple to be used for sleep and sex (an entire subject to write about!) only!
Not all mattresses are the same. Some people prefer them soft, others hard. Surprisingly, people will spend a lot on their bedroom set and save on the cost of a mattress. This is completely backwards. Your highest priority should be what your body is going to sleep on for the next 6-8 hours, not what your dresser drawer looks like.
I recommend the therapedic or Tempur Pedic mattresses. They conform to your body. The sleep by number mattresses are also good especially if you have a spouse that likes a different type of mattress firmness. You will pay a good price for such a quality mattress but it is one of the best investments you can make for your body.
Now that you have a good quality mattress, what should you lay your head on? Again, do not go cheap. How your head is supported can impact your neck where all your nerve endings work their way down the spine as well as your back. I use therapedic pillows and even try to take it with me on vacation. Just like the mattresses, if they have good quality memory foam, it will contour to your body naturally.
Do not have caffeinated drinks after lunch. It takes a while for it to completely flush out of the system so don’t ruin your sleep ‘routine’ by caffeinating late in the day. Drink water instead.
The earlier you can work out the better because it lets your body wind down rather than be hyped up.
Naps, naps, naps, yes they help you sleep! You can read the importance of naps on a previous blog post right here.
Try having your last meal at least two hours before going to bed.
Take Magnesium Citrate an hour before going to bed. Calcium is well known for bone strength and contracting muscles. Magnesium is just as important for bone strength but even more important for muscle relaxation! You can read about it here on a previous blog post.
So maximize your healthy lifestyle by eating right, exercising and finishing the day with a great night’s sleep in order to be…Fit Forlife!