How to improve your sleep

Over the past year I have re-discovered the importance of sleep and all of the benefits that come along with it. Funny enough, it seems like people who are in dire need of it get less than the optimal amount and people who might not need the full 8-10 hours, get plenty of it. That brings me right to the point, How much sleep is really enough? I don’t think I can give you the exact answer that you’re looking for, simply because I don’t know what your day looks like, what your exertion level is or simply how fast your body is able to recover. Everybody’s lifestyle is different and as we know, every body reacts differently to all situations.

Look at people like Kevin Hart for example, that guy is probably one of the most hard-working people in the world and he claims to be totally fine when getting 5 hours of sleep (with some naps throughout the day).

Speaking for myself, I work out 2-3 hours per day, I coach CrossFit classes/clients for 6-10 hours each day including weekends (coaching itself takes up quite a lot of energy by itself), and work on other things like these blogs, fitness programming and my mobility, outside of those training/coaching hours. At the start of this year, before lockdown was ever a thing, I was thriving of off 6-7 hours of sleep a night. When quarantine happened, my body caught up to me and my whoop* data showed that I was in need of more sleep each night. I still don’t get the ”optimal” amount of sleep each night, but my sleep quality is very high, meaning that it doesn’t take me long to fall asleep and I don’t wake-up a lot throughout the night. Studies have shown that people lose about an hour of sleep a night by being awake on average. This can come in the form of waiting to fall asleep and waking up throughout the night (usually without being fully conscious of it). On average people tend to wake up over 12 times a night, without being conscious of it most times. I lose about 20 minutes and wake up about 7 times on average, which is significantly lower than average. I accredit this to my ”busy” and active schedule throughout the day as well as to the night routine I have established for myself.

My night time routine

reading and stretching, why not both?
  1. go through my checklist: Before really starting my night time routine I have to make sure that I have done everything that NEEDS to be done that day. Sometimes it’s an email I haven’t responded to or a workout I have to send to someone or making sure I know what the following day is going to bring. I always make sure that I have my back and all of my food packed away in one corner so I don’t have to stress about it in the morning. After all of that is done and checked off it’s time to move on to step 2.
  2. Turn off my phone: I have created this rule for myself; if I am not coaching at the gym past 8 o’clock, my phone is off at 8PM. If I am coaching past 8, I finish up around 8:30 and make sure that my phone is off around 8:45. I make sure that my alarm is set for the right time and that’s the last thing I will do using my phone for the day. This allows me to relax my mind more, while keeping my eyes off a screen for the last 1-2 hours of the day.
  3. Stretching/mobility: I try to get somewhere between 20/30 minutes of stretching or mobility in each night before finishing up the night. It obviously helps my body to stay loose but it also helps me to clear my mind, reflect on the past day and look ahead to the upcoming day.
  4. Bathroom time: It might seem so silly to put this in here but I honestly feel like this is one of the most important ways to prime the body for sleeping. I just brush my teeth and go into my last step of the night.
  5. Reading: Yes, it’s the very last thing I do every single night, EVERY night. Part of being a night time routine is that it actually has become routine. Your body has to go through something over and over again to get used and accustomed to it. Not only is reading a good way to shut the brain and body down it’s also a crucial step in sending the message to my brain and body that I am about to go to sleep. Without this step my body doesn’t get that final signal and I can basically guarantee I will lose more sleep that night.

Imagine this scenario: Someone you work with runs up to you and tells you that you have to hurry to get somewhere because it’s an emergency. All alarm bells are going off, you rush out of the door and forget half of your things, you forget your phone, your car keys and you don’t even know where you’re going. Obviously, this is a recipe for disaster. Now imagine this same situation as a part of your daily routine every single day, now you’re more prepared, you got all of your things with you and you know where you’re going. Obviously, that’s a much better situation to be in. This is the exact same thing when it comes to our night time routine, without the crucial routine part, you’re doomed to lose more sleep.

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