“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
-No one for long
I know I already used the quote above in a previous post, but it’s worth repeating. Sleep is the foundation of our well being and ability to perform day in and day out. We can only go a short time with inadequate sleep before we start seeing serious debilitation in terms of performance, body composition, and mental acuity. Some people think that they “feel fine” with 5 hours or less per night. I have news for you: you’ve probably forgotten what it was like to feel fully refreshed and rested. I know that happened to me years ago with my diet and more recently with overtraining – I did not know that I felt like crap all the time until I changed my habits and saw the other side.
There are times when limited sleep is a given: having a new baby, unexpectedly covering someone’s shift at work, midterm exams, etc.. These are non-permanent things that we find ways to work through. The problem is when we make our poor sleep habits chronic. When we routinely, sometimes for years, neglect our sleep there is a biological cost that is paid in terms of health and longevity.
Sleep literally does everything for us. Dr. Kirk Parsley, former Navy SEAL and M.D. working for Naval Special Warfare, has an excellent TED Talk about sleep that I encourage you to check out. He also has a great website with resources for improving sleep.
I’ll leave you here with a few actionable things that we can try and implement to improve our chances of getting a good night’s sleep:
1) Pitch black room. No phones, laptops, TV, etc.
2) A cold room. Mid 60’s is about right.
3) Avoid electronic screens (TV, phone) an hour before bed.
I know the last one is very tough in our society, but the blue light from these devices stops or slows the release of melatonin and makes it difficult to fall asleep. As with last week’s post, try and pick one thing to experiment with and see what happens. If we take our sleep seriously and guard it jealously, we will take big steps in the right direction in terms of being awesome for the important people and events in our lives. Stay strong and we’ll see you at the box!