The 8-step formula that finally "fixes" years of poor sleep, including trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up rested
1. Avoid alcohol and/or caffeine a few hours before bed. We usually have caffeine to keep us up and energetic, which of course interferes with sleep and cortisol level when it's time for bed. And though alcohol can make you feel drowsy, it actually interferes with the quality of your sleep, and often makes us wake up in midway through the night.
2. Go to bed at the same time every night. The more consistent you keep your sleeping
pattern, the better you'll sleep over the long term, and the more benefits your body will
get from your rest periods.
3. Don't eat large meals just before bed, unless it happens to work for you. If your body has a lot to do - as in digesting and processing huge amounts of food - it's often harder to fall asleep.
a. Also, you cause a spike in insulin and other energy-producing chemicals, so you'll be more restless if you eat a large meal in the two hours before falling asleep.
b. That said, various studies have observed benefits with both high-carb/high glucose meals, and high-protein/moderate fat meals in allowing for better quality sleep.
i. The one caveat, as we mentioned, is the benefits work best when you eat at least 2 hours before bedtime.
ii. Since we all respond differently to foods, I recommend testing out the different meal combos (higher carb, or higher protein/fat) for a week at a time to see which one gives you the best sleep.
c. While we're talking about eating before bed, don't worry about the B.S. studies from the last few years or so when it was a sin to eat after 8 p.m. These nonsense studies have been debunked numerous times. Many people (especially intermittent fasters) have even more weight loss when they eat their biggest meal at night.
i. The one common denominator in "don't eat after 8 p.m." or "eat your biggest meal at night" is...eating less calories than you burn if you want to lose weight! While meal timing does have some effects on fat gain vs. lean mass gain (especially in the post-workout period), in the grand scheme of things, if you're eating more than you need to lose weight...you won't lose weight. Simple!
4. Be lazy. Try to not only avoid strenuous physical activity before sleep, but also to reduce physical activity as much as possible in the late evening. The more sluggish you act before bed, the more sluggish you'll feel, and the better you'll sleep.
a. This doesn't mean don't work out!
b. It just means make sure you workout earlier in the day (I usually try to finish exercising at least 3 hours before bedtime).
c. That being said, a light evening walk or some yoga, even right before bedtime, can actually be very relaxing and sleep-inducing. Just don't turn it into a strenuous workout and you should be fine.
5. Dump it out. Whatever you're anxious about will definitely creep into your thoughts as you're trying to sleep - our brains are kind of a pain in the butt like that. However, you can give yourself a bit of a break by dumping out anything that's still taking up your mental space on a piece of paper before you go to sleep. Whether that's bills to pay, people to call, an idea for a creative project - it doesn't matter. Get it out of your head and captured on paper, and that way those thoughts aren't floating around keeping you up.
6. Use a journal to help prime your brain for sleep. To go even further in pushing the anxiety, worry, fear, and more away, maintain a journal. Before you go to bed at night, write down three good things that happened to you that day. When you first wake up in the morning (or even the night before), write down five things you want to accomplish. This will help train your brain to focus on good things happening to keep up the positive momentum, while also reminding yourself what your top priorities are for the next day.
7. Stop using electronics before bed. The blue light that electronics emit tells your brain that it's daytime outside - and slows the production of melatonin, which makes you sleepy. Put down the laptop, television, cell phone, tablet, whatever - and pick up a good book! Your brain needs time to make you sleepy, and it's hard for it to do that when you're bathing your face in blue light.
8. But use that technology wisely! There are solutions that can help reduce technology's impact on your sleeping habits. An app called f.lux (available here) makes your computer screen look like the room you're in - meaning it's dimmer at night, and brighter during the day. Another app, called Sleep Cycle, measures your sleep phases and wakes you up in the lightest sleep phase, so that you feel much more alert and don't hate everything when you wake up.
If you follow these steps wisely, you should be able to completely revamp your life in no time.
You'll lose more weight, increase productivity, feel and look better, have less stress, drastically reduce your disease risk, enjoy life more, and overall be a pretty f'in awesome person to be around.
Interested in losing weight? Then click below to see the exact steps I took to lose weight and keep it off for good...
Moving forward, there are several other articles/topics I'll share so you can lose weight even faster, and feel great doing it.
Below is a list of these topics and you can use this Table of Contents to jump to the part that interests you the most.