How to have healthy sleep

It’s no secret that I love my sleep.

I both enjoy sleep and I sleep well. Some of it is personality, I think, but I do think I have some very good sleep habits too.

Whenever I put up my sleep stats on Instagram, I always get so many direct messages from people who say things like, “oh that must be nice” and “how do you sleep so much?”.

Well, I sleep a lot because I’ve realised that when I’m tired I won’t be as productive as I will be when I’m rested. Because when I’m up after a good night’s sleep, I’m a machine 🙂

Sleep also has many other benefits like being good for your mental health, stress relief, immune system, heart, good for managing weight. In addition, and this is a big benefit, it’s good for your memory, and helps you focus and concentrate. I also heard Lisa Genova on a podcast say that deep sleep helps clear out brain waste which prevents Alzheimer’s.

Here are a few of my tips:

  1. Set a sleep goal. My goal is 7 hours 30 every night. I upgraded my Fitbit recently and while my Fitbit now gives me a sleep score, my sleep score is always better when I sleep more than 7h30.
  2. Sleep when you’re tired. Realise that when you’re tired, the very best thing you can do no matter how much work there is still to get done, is to actually sleep.
  3. Move your body. I sleep my best sleep on the days I have a good workout. It’s boring to say this but our mothers were onto something when they told us to go outside and play.
  4. Stop caffeine at lunch. This is not a problem for me, but I know many people who do not have good sleep habits when they have coffee after lunch. Dr Rangan Chatterjee, in his book, The 4 Pillar Plan, talks about how, at bedtime, about 25% of caffeine is still in our system. If you don’t sleep well, stop your coffee at 12 and see if it makes a difference.
  5. Avoid your phone before bed. Everyone gives me a hard time about this one but hey, if you want to sleep better, avoid your phone for a good 1 – 2 hours before bed. You can charge your phone at an outlet across the room. I charge mine next to my bed but it’s on the floor, face down, almost slipped under the bed. I also don’t look at Whatsapp after my phone goes dark (shortly after my work day ends). There is a downside to it but I’d rather have a few more messages in the morning than have restless or disrupted sleep.
  • How is your sleep on a scale of 1 – 10?
  • Do you have good sleep hygiene?
  • Do you spend time on your phone before bed?

If you want to work on these tips, all you have to do is start working on one at a time, track your sleep, and see how it is affected.

{mindset} listening to your body

I’m probably one of the last people you should be listening to talk about this subject since I was not good at taking cues from my own body for many years. I’ll confess – I’m still not the very best at it but I’ve got much better at paying attention and I thought I’d share what’s working for me.

  • Do you know what’s happening when you feel tight in your shoulders and neck?
  • Is something else going on when you just get a headache?
  • When you feel a bit icky and scratchy inside, what’s really going on?

I have a few signals for my own body that I pay attention to.

  1. The tightness in my neck and shoulders is often the first sign of stress for me. A big flashing indicator for me is that I also start dreaming about work. I never dream such that I can remember so it’s a signal that I’m worrying about something or not dealing with things effectively at work.
  2. Yes, I get heat headaches and also some hormonal ones (track your cycles and you’ll soon see if your headaches are hormonal), but often when I get random headaches, it’s my body’s “time-out” and that I need to stop doing so much. I’m someone who always has 10 things on my list so my default setting is to go, and when these random headaches happen, it’s a signal for me that I need to slow down and rest more.

Now and again I find myself a bit niggly. When I can’t put my finger on exactly what the issue is, I stop and ask myself this question, “what’s really going on here?” When I get quiet and tune in, the answer is often really obvious – I didn’t speak up for myself, a boundary felt brushed aside, I felt like my feelings weren’t heard, etc. The point is to identify the feeling, and try and do something about it, so I can move on.

Sometimes really obvious things are happening and your body doesn’t function the way it’s supposed to. One of my friends had severe hair loss a few years ago when their family went through a tough in-law situation. That was due to stress. When the situation was resolved, her hair stopped falling out.

Let’s move onto you. What’s going on in your body that is an indication for you to deal with something?

“I say the universe speaks to us, always, first in whispers. And if you don’t pay attention to that – the brick wall falls down” Oprah

Do you know how much sleep you need?

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On a recent episode of the Best of Both Worlds podcast, Laura mentioned something about how her sleep is always around the 7 – 7.5 hour mark, on average.

I was slacking on my bedtime a few days last week but interestingly, when I checked my Fitbit stats, I realised I’m almost always around the 7.5 hour mark. And that it’s been that way for the last 2.5 years.

Yes, it takes discipline to actually go to bed because I’m a night owl and my natural tendency is to stay awake later because my brain is most awake then.

Yet, no matter how early I go to bed, I still fall asleep at roughly the same time unless I’m not well, and I wake after about 7.5 – 8 hours. I actually only set an alarm for two days every week. The rest of the time I wake around 7.

The trick for me is to stop doing other things to allow for reading time so that I can be sleeping by 11:30.

So my rule is – computer off by 10:30.

After the reading post published the other week, a reader asked why I need all my rules. The thing is I’m an upholder and discipline is my freedom. This might not resonate with any other type but other upholders will definitely understand.

I found I’d be getting to bed at least 30 minutes later when I didn’t enforce my computer rule because I forgot about tidying the desk, doing my bedtime routine, etc.

Do you know how much sleep you need? Do you get enough sleep? 

Most adults don’t get enough sleep and we’re all functioning (or not) at below-par levels of productivity and simply, life enjoyment.

Sleep helps our bodies to work better, helps us with weight loss when we’re trying to lose weight, helps us have clear, functioning minds and of course, helps us rest and recharge from day to day.

Gretchen Rubin has written and spoken on the podcast about bedtimes. She said something interesting in that once you set a bedtime (we now know mine is 11:30), if you ignore that bedtime, then you’re consciously choosing to do what you were doing instead of going to bed.

This week’s coaching challenge for you:

– What is your usual wake-up time?
– Work back at least 7 hours. That is the time you have to be asleep by.
– How long do you need before falling asleep? Subtract the amount of hours.
– Also subtract time for your bedtime routine – face, teeth, reading, etc.
– For the next week, set an alarm or reminder in your phone or computer that says “go to bed”.
– Keep track of your productivity the following day as you start getting enough sleep.

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