By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
Let’s talk about sleep. It isn’t the sexiest or flashiest thing known to man, but study after study shows that it works wonders when it’s prioritized, and we need an adequate amount of it in order to operate at our best. Sleep is one of those natural stress reducers. When we don’t get enough, we can fall victim to fatigue, low testosterone/sex drive, mood swings, weight gain, and unproductive workouts. One study even found that getting less than 6-8 hours per night could raise your risk of early death by up to 12%. Basically, a good night’s sleep can even extend your life!
Fortunately, we are in the midst of a sleep revolution. Many people are unplugging from the grind mentality and learning how to be more productive with their time so that they can maximize the quality and quantity of this epic recovery tool. While the awareness of sleep importance has spiked, many of us are still walking around like the walking dead in between our hits of caffeine. Like so many of you, I used to struggle tremendously with sleep. Either I wasn’t getting enough or the quality of what I was getting was poor. Here are 3 quick tips that changed my life.
The absence of light sends a message to your body, telling it that it’s time to chill. Melatonin, often known as the sleep hormone, is produced in the pineal gland under this condition and encourages your muscles to relax, temperature to drop, and that good ole drowsy feeling to hit you hard. These levels naturally rise during the early evening, and drop as the sun rises in the morning. When the light from your phone, TV screen, laptop or whatever illuminated device you have goes off, it messes with the natural timed release of melatonin and can negatively effect your ability to head off to dream land. One things that has helped me out in this department is blackout curtains.
As an easily distracted person, this tool has helped me to block out typical light distractions, keep the temperature of my room more consistent, and even muffle out the noise so that I can enjoy a night full of restful sleep.
The process of getting to sleep is largely impacted by behaviors. When it’s getting close to bedtime, are you surfing Facebook or heightening your brain activity by flipping through work emails that can just wait until the morning? Once you understand that this is a process that you have control of, it’s truly empowering. Teach your body to sleep well by doing things that “power down” your internal systems. Over time, these self-care rituals will help you get to sleep at night. Maybe it’s taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to relaxing music. I love gratitude journaling with the five-minute journal.
It’s been a great way to put my days into perspective and set my next day up for success. Find what works for you and then double down.
I was put on to the benefits of magnesium by sleep expert Shawn Stevenson and it’s been a game-changer for me. It’s integral to over 300 enzymatic functions in our body and most of us aren’t getting enough of it. Most importantly magnesium is a calming mineral that helps to ease your nervous system and get you into a relaxed state to fall asleep faster. It also can serve to ease muscle and joint pain so that you are more prepared to crush your workout the next day. I love EASE magnesium spray.
It’s simple to apply to the skin and doesn’t leave behind any sticky residue. It has become a staple in my bedtime routine. If you’re having trouble knocking out, I would definitely recommend that you try it