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May 6, 2019

9 Ways to improve your sleep

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On this episode, I'm going to share with you nine ways to improve your sleep, but before I get to that, I did want to ask you for one favor. Would you mind becoming a patron of the podcast? All I'm asking is $1 an episode. If you're getting any value at all from this show, I really would appreciate your support. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/support and become a patron of the show. Patreon makes it very easy. There are different levels, but really just the base level of $1 an episode would really go a long way towards defraying some of the costs associated with having a podcast like this. I want to continue to bring you great content.

I want to continue to bring you great guests and I want to be able to do that in a way where I can be respectful and not bring on other sponsors and stuff like that. I get approached practically every week asking me to tout somebodies product and I've gotten to the point where I just, I just say no, you know, I want to deal with my clients. I want to deal with you. And so if you would just go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/support, $1 an episode really goes a long way. So thank you for that 40plusfitnesspodcast/support. Thank you.

Now I'm going to admit I outsourced the audio production of this show. So in a sense, and I use a mic that's pretty much just the type of mic where you can really only hear my voice if I'm right in front of the mic, but I can tell you actually in my little apartment as I'm recording this, it's quite loud. Uh, there are roosters and for one reason or another, I guess roosters don't just crow in the morning. They crow all day long and so there's constantly noise. There's constantly things going on. A dog's barking next door all night long, roosters crowing early, early in the morning.

So I have really worked hard in the last couple months of prioritizing my sleep in ways that I can improve my bedtime. And so to get that sleep, obviously I have to make some adjustments and I believe you should too. You should prioritize sleep. One of the cool things, we talked to Dr. Bubbs not long ago [Episode 385, which will be released June 10th], if you'll recall in his book Peak, and one of the things they found was when Federer came back to start playing at a masters level like really getting back up into number one spot, everybody wondered what he was doing. Okay. Is he on some performance enhancing drug? How does a guy that age come back and be that good? The answer once they found out later because he didn't share it readily, was that he was just getting better sleep, better sleep will improve your performance on everything and performance as we relate as just normal human beings.

Because I don't play tennis at that level would just be everything else you do in your life. Performing at work, being a better grandparent, being a better parent, being a better friend, performance in the gym performance in things that you just like to do, even if it's not at a competitive level. Performance just means just as I say, fitness means being the best you you can be. Being fit to do the things you want to do and then performance on top of that is doing it really, really well. And so I want you to be able to do that. And one of the core ways that you're going to do that is by improving your sleep. So on this episode I'm going to share nine ways that you can improve your sleep.

Go to bed at the same time each night.

Tip #1, go to bed at the same time each night. I know that sounds pretty simple, but it's really hard for folks to do, you know, prime time TV, other things that are going on often have us on an irregular schedule and we're like, well we finally got to bed whatever time it is. But I can tell you if you set your sights on going to bed at a given time, it really does make the process so much easier.

I really prioritize sleep. So my bedtime is 8:30 and my wife almost every night, she knows 8:30 is when I go to bed. And so 8:30 rolls around, she can pretty much expect me whatever we're doing to stop doing it. And then I'm going to start getting myself ready for bed. Have a fixed time that you go to bed and it doesn't have to be 8:30 it can be whatever, but you want to try to prioritize the quality and the quantity of your sleep and by going to bed at the same time you're starting to set your brain. It's much like when we have kids, you know, we put our kids on a schedule, they tell you, put your kids on a schedule, put your kids on a schedule. You need to be on a schedule too. So try to go to bed at the same time and you'll probably find falling asleep and staying asleep a lot easier.

Avoid blue light

Tip #2 is to avoid blue light. Now you can do this through apps and things like that and you can do that through these things called blue blocker glasses. Actually in the show notes, if you'll go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/380 I'll include a link to these blue blocker glasses. A lot of the bio hacker guys, they swear by it because they don't want to go to bed. They need to keep working. They don't trust the equipment that they're using to not have some blue light going on. So they wear these blue blocker glasses and that does help them in a sense to block, some of that blue light out.

To me, the easier way to do it. It's just a turn off the electronics, turn off the things that generate that blue light in the first place. read by candlelight, do other things other than watching TV, being on your screens in that thing. But if you can't, which I understand sometimes we need to answer emails or we need to watch that show because you know American idol is what it is. If we're going to be watching that show, blue blocker glasses might be something that you would be able to use. But avoid blue light.

The reason is your body has these signaling things that's come through a whole eons of evolution, the sunrises in the morning and it's pretty much becomes a reddish and blue day. You know? So you have your blue day and then at night it starts the reddish tints. If you look at sunsets and things like that, you start to see that reddish and amber colors, that type of thing. And then you get into the night when it's dark, and I'm going to talk about dark in a few minutes, but just realizing that if you're seeing blue light, that's a signal to your body that it's daytime. So time to stay awake and even though you've accumulated that go to sleep stuff, which you know, basically the chemicals in your body that say, hey, it's time to go to sleep, you're starting to get fatigued with the blue light. You're going to stay up later, you're going to stay up longer than you normally would have. So turn off those blue lights if you can, if not, use the apps to kind of tone that down a little bit and maybe get yourself some blue blocker glasses.

Avoid caffeine and/or alcohol

Tip #3, and this should come as no surprise, is to avoid caffeine and alcohol. Now a lot of people know caffeine, they know that they process caffeine a certain way and generally most people would tell you when they can stop drinking caffeine and not have a problem.

I'm pretty much good to drink caffeine until about two o'clock in the afternoon. And if I drink caffeine past that, I really struggled to sleep at night even though I can typically go to bed at 8:30 even if I've had caffeine after, I wake up in the middle of the night and still processing that caffeine. Now the way we process caffeine is unique, so you might be a lot less sensitive to caffeine than I am, or you might be a lot more sensitive to it. So play it by ear of when you need to cut off your caffeine. Move to decaffeinated beverages. Water is always the best option, but there are other options out there, so try to avoid the caffeine.

Now a lot of folks will say what, but alcohol actually helps me sleep better and I don't disagree that alcohol makes it easier to fall asleep because you're uninhibited, you're not stressed, you're letting all that stuff out. So yeah, you feel better and easier and you're able to drift into sleep better. But the problem is that sleep is not the right quality. You're not going through all the right cycles of sleep.

There's four or five cycles depending on how you want to define them, of sleep. And if you're not getting all four or five cycles as you are not going through those cycles in a normal cycle rhythm, then you're not getting the restful recovery, the type of stuff that you need from sleep. So medicines and things like that, they're not going to get you there. Alcohol's not going to get you there. So the tip #3 is to avoid caffeine and alcohol. They're going to either prevent you from sleeping or they're going to prevent you from having good quality sleep. And remember, the quality is just as important as the quantity. Okay?

Have a sleep ritual

#3 is to have a sleep ritual. So with number one, I said go to bed at the same time. Number three is where we now make that something where we're teaching our body the thing it does. And so just as with kids, we set them on a normal routine and we say, okay, now we go up there, take a shower, wash your ears, brush your teeth, you know, and get your pj's on. That's a ritual. And so you should, you should put yourself through a same general ritual. You wake up, you get up, you go in there and the bathroom.

Maybe you take the makeup off your face, you brush your teeth, you wash your face, you get yourself ready and relaxed. Maybe you take a bath or a shower to kind of calm yourself down a little bit more, get some candlelight going, maybe read some fiction, but set yourself into basically a rhythm that you go through each night.

One of the things I'll do, particularly if I've noticed, like I was really stressed and having some difficulty sleeping at night, was that I needed to sit down with something, you know, besides, alcohol and just have something to sip on. You can do herbal teas. One of my favorite is to take a product called magnesium. I don't take a lot because magnesium is also a laxative, so you don't want to take a whole lot, but I use a product and this was something that was recommended to me by Dr. Friedman in the interview we had with him on Food Sanity, it's called Natural Vitality Calm, and you can get this on the Internet, they'll ship it to you. It's a powder basically with magnesium supplement in it. It's a little fizzy. You put a couple teaspoons and water and basically it fizzes and so a lot of times I'll sit there and and like to just before I go to bed, maybe about half an hour before I'm ready to go to bed, fix myself a glass of this and sip on it until I'm ready to go to bed or stop my sleep ritual. But this is really kind of a part of my sleep ritual of having that little fizzy drink. Sometimes I'll just take the ZMA supplement. If you're interested in these products, you can go to the show notes, 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/380 I'll have links to them there, but basically these are little products that I take or use as a part of a sleep ritual. And I rotate in and out of them because I know I don't need supplements all the time, but if I'm particularly stressed or I haven't slept well in a couple of nights, I'll often reintroduce these to my program. And that's just a part of it.

Tip #4, I guess I didn't do my numbering right. You're actually going to get a bonus tip. Tip #4 is to have a sleep ritual.

Meditate or journal

Tip #5 is to do something with that ritual that really calms you down. Meditation is a really good means of calming the brain, calming yourself down, getting all the kind of negative thoughts to just let them go. Just let them go. They're not a part of you that they're not who you are. They're there. Let them go. There's nothing you can do at this point.

Another good tip is part of this whole deal is to do a journal. When I am doing some journaling from time to time when things are just not going well, that's when I always fall back on things that I know have worked for me on the past.

Sometimes I get away from them, but I always find myself going back to those things that work. And one of the things that really works for me is to have a journal where I record my gratitudes. And so if I feel like I'm kind of losing it or my stress levels up or I'm not sleeping well, one of the things I'll fall back on is having a journal and I'll sit down in the evening and I'll write down something that I'm extremely grateful for that happened that day.

It doesn't have to be a huge thing. It could just be that my wife met me for lunch or that, you know, a friend called or I got a chance to talk to my mother, or just anything like that where I can sit down and I can write down that I was just grateful that I had that opportunity and then if I feel like I need to offload something, I might also use that journal to say, okay, tomorrow this is my priority tomorrow. I didn't get it done today and I was frustrated, I ran out of time, but I'm going to do it tomorrow and that's just in my journal. I get rid of it and I said, okay, I am not going to forget it. It's going to get done. It's in my journal. So that's tip number five.

Environment – Dark room

Tip #6 kind of relates to your environment when it's time to go to sleep and the next few do as well. So the first one is be in a dark room. So this is, this is tip number six, be in a dark room. I know I'm sensitive to light if there's a light going on and I'm going to be effected by it. One of the things I've had to get adjusted to here is in the apartment I'm in is they have outdoor lights, they have the streetlights. It's very well lit up for security reasons, but it's still very light in the room. I can't get it dark, I don't have the dark out shades. I'm not going to go buy dark shades for a place that's a temporary residents.

So what I've done is I've moved to an eye mask and my favorite eye mask is this mask called a Mantra Mask and I first came across this when they were doing their first Kickstarter. So if you don't know what a Kickstarter is, it's basically a program where they set up and they say, okay, we want to fund a product and if we get enough backers will do the product. If we don't get the backers, we don't do the product. I love that stuff. I love seeing new technology, new things come about. So I love participating in those. When the product actually makes sense to me.

And the Mantra Mask did and does. I still use it almost all the time. It is an eye mask, much like you would imagine, you just covers your eyes, but it's got these like soft cushions that circle the eye, so it's not straight across just cloth. It literally has his little cups and they fit around your eye in the very, very comfortable, very, very soft. It's got this really nice velcro back, the very high quality and it completely blacks things out. I mean when I had this thing on, I see nothing. I mean it's literally just complete blackout, which is wonderful. So with that, my wife can be on the phone, what she does and she's very respectful of it, but shouldn't be on the phone and be in the computer in the same room, which right here we only have one room, so this is a very good thing for me.

I'll have a link to the Mantra Mask in the show notes so you can find it there. But it's, it's really cool. Eye mask or having a really dark room using blackout shades. That's tip#6.

Environment – Cool room

Tip #7 is to also make sure that the room is cool. Now we're getting into the summer months, so it's going to start getting warm. And I know a lot of folks don't like to spend the money on the air conditioning, but I'm going to tell you, if you can do something to keep your room cool or keep your bed cool, that's gonna go a long way towards helping you sleep better.

Studies have shown if you can get your room temperature down or get your bed temperature down, get your body temperature down, you're going to sleep a lot better. Our body temperature naturally goes down, when we go to sleep and it warms back up when we're awake. So if you can get that, cool. And I'll include some links to the cooling system. One of the cooling systems that I've done some research on, don't own them because I just go ahead and I pay for the air conditioning when I need to, or I don't pay for the heat when I don't need to. So it kind of balances out if you're living in a cool place.

I live in Panama, so guess what? There are no cool days, or cool nights, they're all the same. It might be raining and a little cooler, but generally not a cool night. So I'm gonna make sure that I have the cooling in my room to make sure that it had a nice cool room. So tip #7 make sure you're in a cool room. So the two environmental things we've already talked about, have a dark room, have a cool room, dark, cool room that's going to help a lot.

Environment – Sounds

And then the final aspect of your environment, which is tip #8, is to make sure that the sounds are neutral. And I say neutral sounds because some folks want complete silence. Some folks live in a city and they're used to the sounds and the sirens and all of that. If you are, that's great.

I love using a box fan or something that creates white noise. So I'll go out and buy one of those cheapy little Walmart, you know, $14 fans, probably $19 by now, but just a little fan, it's not blowing on our bed, it's not blowing on us, it's just blowing. It's making that kind of buzzing sound for me that blocks out most of the outdoor noises.

It doesn't here. So here I actually use earplugs. I have a set of earplugs that I put in religiously every night so that the dog barking next door late, late into the night. And then the chickens, the roosters crowing early, early in the morning, they're not disrupting my sleep. Now one of the advantages of going to bed at 8:30 is I'm typically up by four 35 o'clock anyway, so the roosters aren't a huge problem, but if I were sleeping later, having the earplugs would definitely help.

So a box fan, earplugs, things like that going to go a long way towards getting your sound down. Now, so those are three environmental things. I want to go back over those again because I think the environment is really the big core thing. If you're not in the right sleeping environment, you're not going to get good quality sleep. So you want a cool dark room that is sound neutral that works for you. You get those three things right, you're in the right sleep environment and the other things really then make a huge, huge difference to the quality of your sleep.

Wake up more naturally

Tip #9 is wake up more naturally. Okay? Now, when our ancestors went to bed, they woke up when the sun came up. They went to bed after shortly after dark, and this was just a normal cycle of how they lived their day to day life. We don't do that anymore. We have an alarm that goes off every single morning to wake us up, and that's a horrible, horrible way to wake up because, remember I told you about those sleep cycles in which you want to do is, you want to wake up when you're kind of in a light sleep. You know you don't want to wake up when you're in a really deep sleep. That's that startling, oh my God, wake me up kind of thing. And we don't like that. We don't like that because that's our body having a huge, huge cortisol stress release that's just not healthy for us.

So if you can wake up more naturally by not setting an alarm, waking up, when you naturally wake up, you're going to be in a lot better shape. So let me show you how this works for me. By going to sleep at 8:30, I am already hitting my eight hours of sleep by 4:30 in the morning. So when I get on a sleep cycle, it's about an hour and a half. I'm looking at about five sleep cycles. Occasionally I'll throw in, occasionally six will happen, but I come out of a sleep usually around four or five o'clock and I'm rested and I know I'm rested, I feel good. And since I'm kind of out of it, I'm kind of, you know, basically coming into a light sleep and I wake up, I'm like, okay, I'm up. This is good. And I get on with my day. Sometimes I'll lay down and I'll go get another sleep cycle, like I said. But in, in a general sense, I'm going to sleep a full cycle.

I have not actually set an alarm unless I had an early flight that I didn't want to miss. I haven't sent an alarm in over four years. I just don't. I don't need it. If I go to bed early enough, I get up early enough. That's the way I've always approached this and so I don't set alarms. I just make sure I get to bed early enough and I only set alarms if there's just some set of circumstances where I've got like a five o'clock flight and I just don't want to miss it. Now one of the things you can do to kind of set yourself up, if you really do want to kind of have an alarm but you don't want it to be that cortisol spiking thing, you can buy one of those alarm clocks that basically slowly increases the light intensity in the room and by increasing the light intensity there'll be some automatic signals to your body that it's morning and time to get up. Obviously if you're wearing the mantra mask, this won't help you, but if you want to have one of those light emitting alarm clocks, it slowly gets you up. I'll have a link to one of them in the show notes 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/380 three you can check that out.

I go to bed early enough to know that I'm going to wake up early enough, but if you know you can't or for one reason or another you were up later. This is not a bad compromise to avoiding that huge cortisol spike in the morning when you wake up to a blaring alarm. Okay. That was nine and apparently I did a numbering snafu. I thought I was giving you nine, but there's a bonus.

Journal about your sleep

One of the things I often encourage my clients to do is to journal about their sleep and not just journal about what time they went to bed and what time they woke up, but to really talk and think about the quality of their sleep and the trends in their sleep. So we talked about things that would disrupt your sleep. Oh, you were up a little later watching a program or you had to work on your taxes and you were up a little bit later. And so therefore you went to bed later, you were at blue light later and your sleep was just not really there.

That's data. That's really good data to know that yes, blue light does impact you and that having your mind racing at nine o'clock at night, doesn't impair your sleep? Understanding. Okay. That there was a really loud noise outside because there's something going on and if I had had ear plugs or some sound going on in the background, perhaps that wouldn't have been as big a problem for me.

Maybe it was that you had some caffeine late in the evening, you know that went out to dinner and had everybody after dinner had the coffee and I for the life of me cannot understand why someone would have coffee after dinner. I mean, Geez, it's already 11 o'clock and you're going to throw down and express, so I don't get it. People do it. I know they can't be sleeping very well after they do it, but it is what it is.

So I've given you basically now 10 tips and I might change the title of this. I was originally going to call it nine ways, I guess I'll call it 10 cause I, like I said, I screwed up on my numbering, but so I'm going to go over them really, really quickly.

Summary

Number one, go to bed at the same time each night.

Number two, avoid blue light, and that can be by getting away from electronics or using some device like blue blocker glasses.

Number three, avoid caffeine and or alcohol. You're going to have certain tolerances for the caffeine. That's genetic in many ways, but just know that there's certain times when you should not be drinking caffeine or it's gonna impair your sleep. Same thing with alcohol. It even though it makes you fall asleep faster or easier, it's not letting you sleep the way that you should.

Number four is to have a sleep ritual. Okay, I like to sit down, relax, read, meditate, write in my journal and I'll occasionally have a glass of the Natural Vitality Calm just to sit down and say, okay, this is my evening. I'm done and I'm unwinding.

Number five is to meditate or journal. Meditation is a wonderful way to clean your mind, to relax, get yourself steady, get yourself ready to go to sleep. Journaling is a great way to express gratitude, to find some joy in your day and to let go of any of the negative things that have happened and to push off those things that you know you really need to sleep and then be able to do tomorrow even better.

Number six is to have a dark room. I love my Mantra Mask. I wear it all the time and it's, it's a wonderful tool if you can't have blackout shades and the whole bit strongly encourage you to look at that.

Number seven is to be in a cool room and my wife and I kind of argue about this a little bit about how cool, but the cooler you can make your room probably the better you're going to sleep. I love it. Cool. When I'm by myself, I'm down 65 easy.

Number eight is sounds, you know, a box fan, white noise, something to eliminate the sound. Earplugs also work in a pinch. Those types of things will help a lot. The last three were all about environment make sure you have the right environment.

Number nine then is to find a way to wake up more naturally. Go to bed early enough where your cycles work out and you find yourself awake an hour or so before you know you need to get up, probably time to go ahead and go or have something where you're being woke up gently, like a light emitting alarm that's going to slowly raise, increase the intensity of the light to a point where you wake up.

Number 10 is to journal about your sleep so that you find the things that have the most impact. Look for those trends that'll happen. What you're eating, what you're drinking, when you're eating, when you're drinking, what's your activities were, which your stress level was? What's your energy level was during the day and what activities you did like did you lift weights that day? Did you run that day to just spend time with family? Did you have something stressful happen? The more you kind of focus on the things that happened the day before and how they're impacting your sleep that night, the more you'll know how to affect your sleep by changing your routine during the day and then into the evening.

We covered a lot of the 10 ways to improve your sleep. I hope you'll go through and at least try some of these to see what they can do to help you sleep better because the quality of your sleep is going to drastically affect the performance that you have. And as we spoke earlier, performance is about being the best you that you can be. So you're working on your fitness, you're working on your health, and sleep has to be a component of that.

You have to make sleep a priority. I hope you will. If there's anything I can do to help you, please do reach out to me. Love to talk to you about it. But otherwise, look at these 10 things. Listen to this episode again, go to the show notes at 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/380 you can read through the transcript, find the bits and pieces that work for you and hey, give me a comment on Facebook or on that post and let me know some of the things you tried and how it worked for you.

Hope you enjoy today's lesson. I do put a lot of research and a lot of time into thinking of the best ways that I can help reach your health and fitness goals and getting good sleep is was one of those and so I work with my clients. I'd like to work with you just to show you what I can do. I'm offering a free, no obligation, 15 minute consult. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/Consult.

It's not a sales page. It's nothing more than my scheduling link. You go in there and schedule 15 minutes that works for you. We get on a zoom conference call and we talk about your goals. We talk about what matters to you most and what I think you can do to help you improve your health and fitness. I do believe 15 minutes can make a big difference in how you approach your summer from a health and fitness perspective. So go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/Consult I'll take you to my calendar for your free, no obligation. 15 minute consult. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/Consult today.

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AE - May 8, 2019 Reply

I really enjoyed this episode and wanted to also recommend the “bedtime” option on iPhones as a better alarm to wake up to rather than the sudden, blaring typical alarm. It starts with a low, soft sound and gradually increases in noise to wake you up more naturally. I have enjoyed using this option over other alarms because of the different soothing sounds I can choose. Just a little suggestion from a grateful listener!

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