Your Best Night’s Sleep

Think back to the last time that you felt fully rested upon waking. How did you feel that day? You crushed it! You felt happier, had consistent energy through the day, and had the productivity level of Tom Brady on a Sunday afternoon. Imagine everyday feeling and performing at your highest level. You can achieve this every day by taking control of your routine from the time you wake till the time you hit the sack. Your sleep quality hinges on the things you do during the day starting from the minute you wake in the morning.

Sleep is essential for your health, relationships, and work productivity. Your greatest challenge for sleep is that quality, restful sleep doesn’t happen by accident. You can probably remember nights when you were exhaustively tossing and turning knowing that you needed that magical shuteye for tomorrow’s workday but you could only manage to get 3 hours of sleep. The quality of your sleep is dictated by the information your receptors in your body including your eyes, skin, gut, and lungs receive. Once your body receptors receive information about activity and environment, they pass the information along to your brain. Your brain then uses this information to control your nervous system activation as well as hormone response. If receptors in any of these areas are over or under stimulated or the timing is off your sleep quality will be compromised. You are a biological being relying on these inputs to control your sleep and circadian rhythm. When you master controlling these inputs, you master sleep. The result: you dominate the day. The magic: do this as frequently (as in every day) as you can. The plan: do it for two weeks straight, and you’ll see and feel the change.

Plan for your best night’s sleep by starting in the morning and continue up to the minute that you crawl into bed.

Below are 10 things you’ll want to do starting doing in the morning to prep you for your best night’s sleep ever. It is essential that you do these 10 things to get your body clocks ticking, so you get your best night’s sleep ever. Quality sleep is one of the most under executed activities of humans today, and it’s a major player in chronic diseases and fatigue. Again, it’s important that you start prepping your body for your best night’s sleep from the minute you wake in the morning. Waiting will 7 pm to start prepping your body clocks for sleep is like waiting until one week before your marathon to start training.

1. Go outside at or close to sunrise. Wear the least amount of clothes and coverings, including glasses and contact, as possible. Your eyes and skin have light receptors that send time information to your brain that controls your sleep and circadian rhythm. One receptor is a protein in your eyes and skin that is production site for the powerful anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, sleep hormone called melatonin. Do it for 2 weeks.

2. If you do high-intensity training with short rest periods, like CrossFit or Orangetheory Fitness, avoid doing this after 4 pm. Obeying this is even more important in the fall and winter times as you need to hit the sack earlier than you do in the summer. Any high-intensity workout with shorter rest periods prolongs sympathetic (fight-flight) nervous system activity. Increased sympathetic activity in the late afternoon or evening is a surefire way to jack up your cortisol-melatonin rhythm which also prevents falling restful sleep. If your workouts are high-intensity and you have trouble falling asleep before 10 pm, or you wake up at 1, 2, or 3 am wired, move your workout to an earlier time in the day. If you want to work out in the afternoon or evening, plan for longer rest periods or lower intensity exercise like taking a hike or walk. Do it for 2 weeks.

3. Avoid eating a late lunch. Eating times play a major role in your body’s energy regulation. If you wait till you’re starving at 3 pm to eat lunch, your metabolism will tank and your afternoon mood and productivity will plummet.  Do it for 2 weeks.

4. Eat dinner at least 2, even better 3, hours before bed. Also, avoid overeating at dinner. If you eat a huge dinner, blood will be shunted from your body into your digestive organs in the early hours of going to bed. This leads to less repair in your brain and body. If your brain lacks blood flow at night deeper sleep (the magical dreaming state) is harder to achieve. Do it for 2 weeks.

5. Avoid artificial light, especially blue and green frequencies, after sunset. Avoiding artificial light as much as you can is most important in the fall and winter. You can do this by wearing these swag blue and green light blocking glasses from sunset till you go to bed. Remember your skin also has light receptors too so cover up your skin at night as well. Do it for 2 weeks.

6. Take a warm shower or bath before bed. Avoid water that’s too warm or cold. Cold showers are super popular, and although they are great when timed appropriately, they can stimulate your sympathetic nervous system too much before bed preventing you from falling asleep. Do it for 2 weeks.

7. Keep your bedroom cool. Set your thermostat to mid to high 60s. If you have trouble falling asleep, there’s a good chance your room may be too warm. In the winter time, room temperature can be even lower. Some products you may want to look into for regulating temperature at night are a wool blanket and mattress and if you’re a sleep diva check out the Chilipad. Wool is great because there are no synthetic materials to trap heat or attract EMF. Do it for 2 weeks.

8. After sunset, do activities that promote your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). You can meditate, do breathwork, or read a book (not from your iPhone). This may be your most challenging because you’ve been on the grinding all day and now you are pumping the brakes on your brain. Do it for 2 weeks.

9. Make your bedroom into a dark cave. Pitch black. No light. Use blackout curtains and block all light that may be creeping in from under the door or sides of windows.

10. Shoot for 9 pm or earlier bedtime in the winter. The only way you’ll make this happen is if you make sleep a priority. During spring you can back up bedtime a little and summer you likely get by going at an even later time. You should sleep more in the winter compared to summer. 7 or 7.5 hours of sleep in the summer may be sufficient but is likely to crush your metabolism and hormones in the winter. Do it for 2 weeks.

As with anything else in life, consistency is the key. Do it for 2 weeks.

Have an awesome weekend!
Dr. Thoma