Sleep is a performance-enhancing drug. We’ve been saying it since 2015 when we first started on this health journey. Sleep isn’t a health “hack”; it’s fundamental to your physical and mental health and cannot be overlooked.
If you consider yourself a “bad sleeper,” let’s try to reframe why we sleep in the first place. Many of us are time constrained; that’s a given. Everyone wants more than 24 hours in a day, but that’s all we’ve got (for now). The goal of sleep is to regenerate the mind and body so we can continue to perform tomorrow (or anytime in the future). If we get poor sleep, we’re on borrowed time before the bill comes due. There is always a tradeoff – you may perform more tasks today, but you will suffer in the future.
Sometimes, admittedly, this is worth it! You might need to get something done in a pinch. You might be in a groove and need to let it ride. However, it’s not worth it 5 days a week on average just to feel exhausted on the weekend.
Here are three simple ways to calm down before sleep:
1) Stop trying to wake yourself up after 1-2PM.
Do you consume coffee after 1PM (here is your first place to start)? How frequently do you intensely exercise in the evening? Are you doing things to stimulate your body and brain well into the night? How much television or screen time are you getting after 5PM? From the second we wake up, we’re concerned with more. More energy, more production, more utility, more output. However, we don’t place the same emphasis on winding down at the tail end of the day. It’s honestly a miracle any of us can get to sleep at all with what we put our brains through every night. Tip: Slow down earlier. If you normally start your PM routine at 9PM, start at 8 (this is relative to when you try and sleep).
2) Develop a PM routine.
Speaking of PM routines, you need one. Think about any warm-up ritual you have, from participating in sports, athletic activities, work moments (speech, presentation, etc), to your morning routine; what is the purpose of the routine? It is to prepare you for the task ahead. That is also the reason to develop a routine in the evening. If you think you’re going to get lucky and fall into a deep, restful sleep the second your head hits the pillow 30 minutes after your last cold brew, you’re in for a fun night doing gymnastics on top of the covers. Develop a night routine, and start it earlier.
3) Get organized for tomorrow, tonight.
We’ve fielded tons of questions on how to reduce monkey mind at night. Despite taking the steps above, many people still find they have an overactive mind. Most of this anxiety deals with things that are coming the next day. Tomorrow’s stress becomes tonight’s anxiety fuel. The best tactic we’ve found to deal with this is to fully plan and organize the day ahead. Get your to-do list set, put things in your calendar, decide when you’re training and eating, plan free time, and lay out anything you need early in the morning the night before. We’d recommend doing this task roughly 60 minutes before sleep, or nearer the time you start your PM routine. This allows for your brain to process what you need to do, then gives it time to shut down again (in case your stress spikes up thinking about what’s coming).
Sleep is your new performance-enhancing drug. Protect this time as a necessary component of your physical and mental health. Netflix is not more important. Responding to all your text messages is not more important. Catching up on Instagram is not more important. Your long term health is the most important.
Have the best day ever (by having the best sleep ever).