Sleep. We all need it and most of us can’t seem to get enough of it. Sleep does so much for our bodies, much of which we don’t completely understand, but we do know that getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health.
Healthy sleep habits look different for different people. Mainly depending on their chronotype, job and family situations, etc. Take the time to consider your situation. However there are some habits that seem to be true for all.
Amount of Sleep
Benefits of adequate sleep
You’ll have fewer cravings, especially for junk food
You’ll be less moody
You’ll be able to get more done/be more productive
You’ll build muscle and lose fat more easily
You’ll respond better to stress
You’ll generally feel better
Most of these happen because you’re giving your body the green light that it’s safe to make these changes.
There are further benefits of consistently getting the right amount of sleep that you may not recognize including:
Better hormone levels
More insulin sensitivity
Better gut health
Better HRV and RHR
These less noticeable benefits are all markers that are driven by and lead to better health.
What can you do to get more sleep?
The answer to getting more sleep is mostly behavioral.
Sleep is sabotaged by anything we place at a higher priority than sleep. Ask yourself how important is your sleep? More important than watching a movie? More important than scrolling on your phone? More important than spending time with friends or family? When you’re faced with a decision, think about the situation and decide what is worth missing sleep for. Is staying up an hour longer than usual because a friend is in town worth feeling more moody, dealing with cravings, and being a little less productive the following day? Yeah it probably is. Go into each decision eyes wide open. (pun completely intended)
Instead of thinking that sleep is what happens when you are done with what you need to do for the day, plan your sleep like you plan eating, exercise or work.
What if you just aren’t able to sleep much at all for one reason or another no matter how long you lie in bed. Examine your habits, make the changes you need to, and give your body time to adjust. If after a month or so of practicing good sleep hygiene consistently you are still struggling, you might want to consider seeing a professional.
What does good sleep hygiene look like? Comically, it’s a lot of what we tell children. “it’s your bedtime.” “Don’t eat that it’ll upset your stomach.” etc. It wouldn’t hurt if you kept those same cautions as an adult.
Like any time you are trying to reach a result, you need to set rules or boundaries. Consider what gets in the way of your sleep and what you can do to maneuver around it.
Make rules around sleep. Here’s a couple suggestions:
Limit eating, especially fatty foods before bed.
Limit screen time before bed. The blue light can disrupt your sleep cycle.
Schedule your sleep. Plan it just like you would any other important event in your life.
Be consistent with when you start and stop sleeping this includes weekends. When you get enough sleep every night you won’t have a need to sleep in.