Strong and Balanced – Sleep

A few days ago I had the honor of seeing Arianna Huffington speak at a conference I attended.  One would expect a lecture from her to review best business practices or how to lead the pack, but in this particular speech, she went a little more personal and spoke of the everyday boundaries she sets so that she can take care of herself.  This got me thinking of my own self-care practices and what I hold most valuable on a day-to-day basis.  The number one thing that came to mind…SLEEP.

I value sleep over food, workouts, and even showers.  If I don’t get enough sleep, I am miserable to work with, to live with (ask my hubby), and I don’t make great decisions. And those are just the things that I notice right away.  Lack of sleep can also lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, memory loss, and more.  1 in 3 Americans do not get enough sleep (according to the CDC).  This is not surprising when we add the stress of our daily lives with the stress of what happens if we don’t sleep!  It is too much.

So, our only solution is to find ways to trick our bodies, to create routines, to set ourselves up for sleep.  We need to give it the same respect and attention we do to brushing our teeth or showing up to our job on time.  We need to start adjusting our days and the amount of work we take on so that we can get the sleep we need to be our best selves.  For those of you who are rolling your eyes and think you are too busy, read this article about Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, getting 8 hours of sleep.  If he can do it, so can you.

Here are my favorite “Hacks” (disclosure: not hacks at all, just good ol’ fashion advice) for sleep:

  1. Respect your sleep time.  Treat sleep like you would an interview, a job, an appointment.  Heck, put it on your calendar if you need to.  Set up your day and your obligations where you are allowing enough time for your Zzzz’s.  Cut social events short, leave emails unread.  The world will keep spinning, I promise.
  2. Establish boundaries. Do this with your work, your screen time, and your obligations to others.  Make sure you have a cut-off point at night and a start time in the morning.   Allow time in the morning to think about what you want from yourself and what you want to accomplish that day before checking your phone to see what the world wants from you.  At the same time, create time in the evening to reflect on your accomplishments, your successes, and what you were grateful for that day (if you make it from sun-up to sun-down with clothes on your back, you can find something to be grateful for each day).
  3. Move and engage your mind everyday.  Our bodies and minds are meant to be used.  If we slack off on utilizing one or the other, it will probably keep us up at night.  Make sure you are challenging yourself physically and mentally for at least part of your day, so that you can power-down easily at night.  PS – if you want to get both done at once, try the Strong Balance Class Home Video.
  4. Focus on quality not quantity.  While performing your tasks and obligations throughout the day, make sure you are focused.  Start and end projects without allowing yourself to be distracted by email, phone, or social media.  When you do something, go all in.  You will get more done in a smaller amount of time and will feel more accomplished and satisfied at the end of the day.
  5. Set yourself up for success.  You can not get home at 11pm and expect that your body will be able to settle down by 11:01pm.  On the same note, you can not play candy crush or browse your Facebook page till it is time to turn off the lights and then fall into a state of blissful rest.  Have a routine to get the screens out of your life at least 30 minutes before you want to go to bed.  Absolutely no screens in bed.
  6. Make your bed the most heavenly place on earth.  What makes you feel comforted and snuggled?  Soft sheets, fluffy pillows, lavender scents?  Whatever it is, spare no expense.  Make your bed super dreamy so that you can not wait to jump in at the end of the day.

Check out my podcast below for more tips on how to get a perfect night sleep.