How many times have you heard, “You need to get 8 hours of sleep” and laughed out loud. Kids. Work. Dogs. Life. Eight hours of sleep just doesn’t happen for the majority of us, and that’s the way it is right now. I’ve come to terms with that, and you probably have too.
What I’ve been doing instead is really trying to maximize the sleep I am getting. If I can’t get the QUANTITY I want, I’m going to get the best QUALITY sleep possible!
Here are some things you should implement to create the best quality sleep possible:
1) Cold shower before bed. This has been a recent addition to my routine and has made a huge difference. It sounds counter intuitive, but a cold shower will activate the parasympathetic nervous system which helps bring you down. Start with 20-30 seconds as cold as you can tolerate after your normal temperature shower. After a week or two you’ll be able to sustain the cold shower longer. I’m currently at about 3 minutes and feel great. Research backs this up. Try it!
2) Sleeping positions. Seems crazy you say? Certain sleeping positions are better than others for quality of sleep. But more importantly, certain positions will make you sore and stiff in the morning, and throughout your entire day actually. Do you have a stiff elbow? Sore shoulder or neck? Hips or back seem out of alignment? Take a quick look at how you sleep and see how the positions can impact those body parts!
3) Magnesium. I feel like I fall asleep faster and sleep well with a regular magnesium supplement before bed. Check for yourself, but it has helped me.
4) The Device. You know what I’m talking about – and it has to be put down. Put the phone down 30 minutes before going to bed. This is hard, but it will help you fall asleep faster. Look up the current research, and you’ll see that it all points in this direction. Put the device away.
5) The TV. See above. I’m serious, you’ve got to turn the TV off too. Even better yet [and you can call me crazy], take the TV out of your bedroom. I’m actually serious. Again, look at the research if you need to, but the TV in the bedroom isn’t a good idea for a variety of reasons.
6) Read a book instead of scrolling your phone or binge watching a show. Actual paper – not a kindle or iPad!
A word to the wise – if you are struggling with quality sleep and want to try all of these recommendations right away: only pick one or two. Make them a habit for 3-4 weeks and if you’ve successfully changed your routine, then you can start adding the others. Don’t overdue it by trying all 6 tonight. You won’t be able to sustain the change. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so make one sustainable change at a time!
If you want some accountability, I’m more than happy to help.
Nick Prohaska | Coach & Co-Owner | KCI CrossFit