Your Best Performance Enhancer Resides In Your Bed
Shocker! Sleep is important for your health. I know what you’re thinking, “Tell me something I don’t already know.” Um… it’s cloudy a lot in Chicago?
All jokes aside I wanted to talk about sleep today because it’s something near and dear to my heart – and should be for you too. A little backdrop first; the year leading up to my wedding I was going through a digestive health overhaul with my good friend and colleague Derek Johnson. Derek’s a boss when it comes to digestive health and helped my wife and I both “glow” on our wedding day.
I suppose it was because I was so smitten with Angela that I completely ignored my eating habits and racked up a ton of issues. It was so bad Angela actually carried around a travel-sized Tums in her purse when we went out – seriously. For the record if you’re someone who takes Tums or any form of antacid regularly you might consider getting your gut checked out.
Derek put me on a supplement protocol, which was designed to help repair the lining of my stomach and help clean up my diet. I know what you’re thinking, I must have been a chunky guy. The funny thing though is I wasn’t! Although his body fat machine did point out that I had 17lbs of fat in my stomach. Not to boast, but I have a 6 pack so I was a little confused. It was undigested food – blah!
Needles to say I learned a TON about digestive health and holistic ways to improve not only your digestion, but also a lot of other aspects of health – such as sleep.
I was taking a lot of supplements at the time but most of that was for my stomach – once that got better those supplements went away. There were a few that I LOVED however and those were the ones that helped me sleep like a baby after its warm bottle of milk. I slept amazing in LA! I used my Fitbit to track my sleep and would intervene when I saw I was more restless at night.
This post stems from a Sunday of cleaning out our closets while watching the Panthers dismantle the Seahawks a couple weeks ago (happily as a Vikings fan). I found my Fitbit and decided to track my sleep that night. I knew I was sleeping poorly but I had no idea just how restless I was…
So, I dug up my old binder from Derek and immediately put a plan in place to help fix my sleep. Since the 2-3 days after that first night of tracking my sleep I have slept amazingly well and my life has been LEAPS AND BOUNDS better in a number of ways.
- I’ve gotten stronger
- I feel great
- I’m in a much better mood – and my wife is too
- I’m more positive
- I think more clearly
- And I’m eating healthier without even trying
So Yoda, and myself, would like to know…
Benefits of Sleep
Here are just a few things that happen when you consistently sleep soundly:
- You’ll be able to focus easier
- You’ll have more energy
- You’ll be in a better mood
- You’ll be more motivated
- You’ll look better
You can read more on this here.
As a strength coach I have an interest in getting people stronger, so let’s focus on that last one – “You’ll look better.”
Well, whether you know it or not you actually recover the most during your deep REM sleep cycle(s). The longer you’re in REM the better you’re going to feel the following morning.
In my experience people are often too quick to jump toward alternative means of recovery such as:
- Spa treatments
- Deprivation tanks – float tanks – one of my favorites!
- And much more
I’m not opposed to any of those methods as a means to enhance recovery, but no matter how effective they might be, they do cost some coin – some more than others.
Your sleep is free and something you actually DO have control of. So again, do you even sleep?
How to know whether or not you sleep soundly at night
If you have one of the many watches that track your steps then chances are you have the ability to track your sleep at night. If you don’t, you can put a glass of water next to your pillow – if it spills overnight you know you slept poorly. No, no, I’m just kidding!
In all seriousness if you don’t have a sleep-tracking device just go off how you feel in the morning. While you may not get the visual of how restless you were that night, I think it’s pretty safe to say you know when you had a good night’s sleep. How often you wake up feeling that way is another story.
How You Can Sleep More Soundly
Let’s start with the basics. If you’re truly unsure how well you sleep on a nightly basis then you might start here and see if you wake up feeling better.
Avoid blue light 30 minutes prior to bedtime – this would be the light from your:
- And most lamps and ceiling lights
Instead you can purchase blue-light blocking nightlights (I get mine from the Bulletproof online store) or wear blue-light blocking sunglasses. You can also just use candles instead and save money on electricity.
The dim light will actually trigger your body to start releasing melatonin, which should eventually make you sleepy. Again aim for 30-min before bed.
Turn off all electronics 30-60 minutes prior to bedtime
This goes directly with what we were just talking about. Don’t think because you’re using your phone in a candle-lit environment that you’re winning – cause you’re not.
Doing a little extra
So maybe you tried the basics and you still aren’t sleeping that well OR now that your T.V., phone, and computer are off, you have no idea what to do with yourself!
Meditation before bed
Meditation is a great way to calm the mind before bed, which can lead to a more peaceful mind while you sleep. If mediation isn’t your thing read a book for 30 minutes.
Lavender essential oil
You can also burn a essential oil in your bedroom 30-60 minutes prior to going to sleep. This is why the spa smells so good when you walk in – they’re trying to create a stress-free environment that will help induce you into a parasympathetic state – dim lights plus essential oils and calming music – they do it all!
So, turn your bedroom into a mini spa.
I need help!
Still not sleeping well? Well then you might need further intervention and the help of a couple supplements.
Your body produces it so giving it a little extra won’t hurt you at all. For some people this works wonders. Others, it doesn’t do much. I take 2 100mg sublingual tablets right before bed and allow it to dissolve under my tongue.
Huh? Gamma-Amino Butyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid, which acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It inhibits nerve transmission in the brain, calming nervous activity. This is directly from the back of my bottle:
PharamGABA is GABA produced through natural fermentation by Lactobacillus hilgardii. Clinical studies show that pharmaGABA can increase alpha-waves and reduce stress-related beta-waves, this helping to promote calmness while maintaining mental focus.
I love the stuff! I used Derek’s Chill Chews during the week and right before bedtime. Every night I slept great! And thankfully I’m back to my old ways now…
If all else fails, do it all! There’s really no harm in avoiding blue-light, burning essential oils, and reading/meditating before bed. Maybe it’s a little too “zen” for you, but if it means the difference between crushing your workout the next day and feeling crushed, it might be worth a shot.