“I HAVE to look at my phone before bed!”
Yes, the struggle is real. But… Putting your phone away just 30 minutes prior to bedtime can help you get a better night’s sleep, according to a recent study published in Plos One.
Everything from lucid thinking, to good decision making, to proper digestion, to high performance is heavily dependent on getting good quality sleep.
Unfortunately, more than a third of adults get fewer than 7 hours of sleep each night, the minimum needed to keep your risk of health problems in check.
And that’s not counting the millions of folks who likely over-estimate how much sleep they’re getting, or whose sleep quality is poor because of other, seemingly unrelated lifestyle factors.
How to sleep better: Your 14-day plan
Choose what time you’re going to get up.
Strive for consistency here, even on the weekends. A few pointers:
- You might find it easier to get up if you sleep with the blinds open—allowing natural light to stimulate Process C (your circadian rhythm).
- Get activated early in the day, by making your favourite coffee, taking a shower, walking the dog, or checking social media.
- If you plan to shift your morning routine by more than an hour, do it in 30-minute increments, every three to four days.
As you shift your wake time, shift your bedtime. There’ll be a delay of a day or so, but they should go together.
Otherwise, you’ll be sleep deprived.
Lower your stress levels near bedtime. (No news or work email!)
Line up support from family. Consider what you can do to ensure you can easily stick to your plan six days out of seven, and remember the reasons why improving your sleep matters to you.
Try the plan for two weeks, and re-assess. Do you fall asleep easily, drifting off within 20 minutes or so? Have your middle of the night awakenings become a rare occurrence? Can you get out of bed without smashing the snooze button countless times? Do you feel more rested and energetic?
(If you answer yes to all those questions, great! You’ve just figured out a sleep routine that works for you.
If you answered yes to some, that’s great, too. Keep up the good work! Some people never feel full of pep when they wake up (especially if it’s still dark), but ideally, you should feel better than before. (And better is better.)
By continuing what you’re doing most of the time, your sleep schedule will stay pretty consistent throughout your life. So even if you experience temporary changes—jet lag, a new job, a newborn—you can get yourself back on track pretty easily by going back to the routine that works for you now.
If you’re still struggling, however, you may need to make a few more changes.
What if I’m doing everything right, and I’m still exhausted?
So you made some changes with your sleep, but it didn’t seem to help. Where do you go from here? There are two possible reasons why this might happen.
1. You didn’t go far enough. You may need to get even more sleep than you originally thought. In that case, keep a sleep log for a week, and see how it matches up to your schedule.
If you’re sticking to your plan, try extending your time in bed by 15 minutes. If that doesn’t work, add another 15 minutes. If you’ve added 30 minutes and still don’t feel rested, move on to option 2.
2. There’s a different reason you’re feeling tired. Has your primary care doctor ever asked you how you’re sleeping? Chances are they haven’t. Sleep disorders are under-recognised and as a result, they’re often left untreated. If you feel like you’ve made significant changes to your sleep habits but still feel tired or fatigued during the day, talk to a healthcare provider.
It may be time to see a qualified professional. The most common sleep disorders are:
- Insomnia: a condition where people can’t sleep well even if they do everything “perfectly.” It’s best treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy.
- Sleep apnea: a condition in which breathing is interrupted while a person sleeps (even though they may have no trouble breathing when awake). There are multiple treatments, and a sleep medicine specialist can help identify the best ones for a given person.
- Restless legs syndrome: a condition in which a person’s legs feel “twitchy” and unsettled when they lie down to rest. It’s more common in women because it’s sometimes related to low iron levels. A doctor can check ferritin levels, and discuss medication treatment options.
Want Help Becoming The Healthiest, Fittest, Strongest Version Of You?
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That’s why we work closely with our Nutrition Coaching clients to help them lose fat, get stronger, and improve their health… no matter what challenges they’re dealing with.
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