I'm excited to share this post for two reasons:
- I added a page on my website of some of my favorite books & documentaries.
- In the spirit of reading and learning, I'm reviewing a book on sleep with some practical, easy tips that you can do today to get your best sleep ever.
Sounds great, right?
The new section is called 'empower' because all of my recommendations are books/movies that have empowered me to alter the course of my life and I know that you will feel the same. I encourage you to take a moment to visit and tell me if you've read any of the books or if you recommend some that aren't feature. I can't wait for your suggestions.
On to the sleep tips! When was the last time you got some good sleep? I’m talking about the kind of sleep when you wake up, your hair is crazy, your pillow is filled with drool and you feel amazing. If that was last night, then I say ‘hooray for Hollywood.’ If it’s been awhile, then I have just the thing for you. But first, let me backtrack a bit.
I’ve become obsessed with podcasts. For those of you who may not know what a podcast is, it’s a video or audio file that you can download or stream on your phone/computer. Most podcasts are set up like radio interviews with a host and a special guest and range in length from 20 minutes to over 2 hours. The one that I’ve had on constant rotation is The Model Health Show by Shawn Stevenson. I actually came across his story on another podcast, The Health Bridge, where he discussed recovering from a debilitating back injury at a very early age.
One of his key strategies to getting healthy was making sure that he got enough sleep in order for his body to heal and repair itself. Fast forward to present day, he’s written a book- Sleep Smarter-21 Proven Tips To Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, Bigger Success. - and I'm going to share just a few tips to get you started on your best night's sleep ever. I have to say that Shawn's way of speaking and writing is so approachable and I found myself laughing a number of times. He's really down to earth and breaks things down to make all the science stuff seem pretty basic. All of the quotes I use moving forward are from the book.
But why is sleep important anyway? When you are awake, you body is in a catabolic state which means it's breaking itself down. When you go to sleep, your body is in an anabolic state which "heightens the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, skeletal and muscular systems." Sleep is the only time your body has to recoup from all the craziness you put it through the day. Plus, research shows that 'after just 24 hours of sleep deprivation, there is an overall reduction of 6% of glucose reaching the brain. Translation: You get dumber." We don't want that, do we?
Shawn's entire book is about sleeping smarter and knowing exactly how your body is structured to optimize your sleep cycle. So let's get to the tips.
Tip #1 Get More Sunlight During The Day
Our circadian timing system is our built in 24-hour clock. In order for your body to be alert and awaken the daytime hormones, you need to get sunlight (preferably between the hours of 6-9am). Sometimes our bodies get confused since we are mostly indoors, which throws off our clock. If you can't get sun during the optimal hours, don't worry. Try to squeeze in some time throughout your day to absorb some rays. Maybe take a walk on your lunch break or eat outside. When I'm driving in the morning, I don't use a visor so the sun can shine on my face. It's better than nothing, right?
Tip #2 Avoid The Screens Before Bedtime
"The artificial blue light emitted by electronic screens triggers your body to produce more daytime hormones (like cortisol) and disorients your body's natural preparation for sleep." Remember tip one? We don't want our bodies to think it's daytime when it's not. Shawn recommends limiting screen exposure to at least 90 minutes before bedtime. I know that may be hard since most of us are attached to our phones (guilty) but find an amount of time that you are comfortable with and stick to it. Once I get in bed, I read (preferably an actual book-not iPad/e-reader) in dim lighting and I usually don't get through more than 3 pages before I'm asleep.
Tip #3 Dress For The Occasion
"Research shows that certain forms of insomnia are linked to faulty body temperature regulation, and an inability to cool down enough to enter deeper stages of sleep." What you wear to bed can not only have an effect on your body temperature but restrictive clothing can cut off the flow of your lymphatic system (the way your body gets rid of toxins). Have you ever slept in socks and woke up the next day with swollen feet? That's your lymph fluid being constricted. Think about what you wear to bed and if you can eliminate some items of clothing especially bras or other tight fighting garments. Dress in loose clothing or don't wear any at all. Be as comfortable as possible.
Tip #4 Get To Bed At The Right Time
"It's been shown that human beings get the most beneficial hormonal secretions and recovery by sleeping during the hours of 10pm and 2am." This is what Shawn calls the "Money Time." After 10pm, the body tends to get a second wind because of a rise in melatonin. So instead of your body repairing itself, that energy is being used for whatever it is you're doing past 10pm. I try to get in bed by 9:30pm to read. I've found that this works best for me and has enabled me to keep up with my morning workouts.
You should see my copy of this book. It's just one yellow highlighted mess with notes written in the margins. It's a quick and enjoyable read. I wish I could include the rest of the 17 tips but it wouldn't have the same effect as it would if you just bought the book. I've already put many of his tips into action and I have to say that I've noticed a difference in my sleep.
If you have trouble sleeping or staying asleep or if you know someone who does, please recommend this book. Last I checked it was on sale for $11.57 on Amazon. It's probably the cheapest thing I've ever bought to help me sleep better. Also be sure to check out his health and wellness podcast. I look forward to it every Wednesday.
P.S. I wasn't paid a cent for this endorsement.