Studies show that men who sleep 5 or fewer hours a night have smaller testicles than men who sleep 7 or 8 hours! Lack of sleep can lower a man’s testosterone by a decade. In addition, lack of sleep has been risked to cancer and gene modification. It can lower your immune system by 70% and increase inflammation.
With 70% of Americans suffering from insomnia at least once a month, insufficient sleep is considered a public health epidemic.
And with the additional stress and anxiety caused from worrying about the pandemic, recession, protests and politics, sleep becomes even more elusive.
Sleep is the most powerful health and performance enhancer known to humankind. If you’ve been awake for more than 17 hours, it has the equivalent impact of our ability to focus as having the blood alcohol level of 0.05%, which is the legal limit. So when you show up with lack of sleep it’s the same as showing up drunk.
Research says that sleep is the most important foundation of good health. It’s more important than diet and exercise.
If you are sleep deprived, you are probably not going to exercise. You are going to eat crap. Even if you do a workout, they won’t be as effective and efficient. Your risk of injury is higher.
Your lack of sleep puts you in a bad mood too. Only one night of sleep deprivation affects your flow experience and subjective well-being.
And since sleep is so important, let’s talk about a few ways to improve it.
As stress and anxiety increase, sleep is the first thing to go. When 70% of all Americans suffer from insomnia at least once a month, insufficient sleep becomes a public health epidemic. I’m sure these numbers are even higher now. Sleep is so important for immunity and overall well-being yet we don’t put enough importance on it. We destroy our sleep with our modern-day habits.
You can’t get through your days if you are sleep deprived. And you certainly can’t get into a state of flow, which is a state of high performance where you are fully focused.
Falling asleep easy is something I have struggled with in the past.
So with increased worries, I have adopted a few new evening rituals.
Technology Messes up Your Sleep
I disconnect from my devices around 7pm. Although it’s not always easy to do, I know that if I stay on, my sleep suffers. So I like to leave my phone to charge in the living room. Even though I already have F.lux on my computer to project my eyes, getting completely away from the screen definitely helps calm my mind.
Blue Light Delays Sleep up to 3 Hours
If I continue to read on my iPad, I use blue light blocking glasses. I have noticed a big difference in being able to fall asleep when I use the glasses. Blue light-emitting from your screens changes melatonin levels which keeps you awake. Some studies show up to 3 hours.
Sunlight Helps Your Circadian Rhythms So You Can Go To Sleep Easier
I walk my dog after dinner and watch the sunset. Watching the sunrise and the sunset really help you sync your Circadian rhythms. Sunlight in the morning on your face is especially helpful. A good night’s sleep starts in the morning. Since it’s summer, this is easy to do.
Lavender Oil Helps You Fall Asleep
I use lavender oil to help me fall asleep. I grew up with lavender oil in Bulgaria and have noticed lately that Bulgarian lavender oil is becoming popular in the U.S. Bulgarian lavender oil has its unique qualities and advantages. It has high linalool and linalyl acetate content which helps ease stress and anxiety. Lavender oil (I’m partial to Bulgarian) is particularly good if you are having trouble falling asleep.
For Deep Sleep Stay Away from Alcohol & Caffeine
There’s a big difference in the quality of deep sleep when I drink alcohol the night before. So I try to limit my glass of wine to special occasions only and when I know I don’t need to perform at 100% mental capacity the next day. It’s not easy to do but it’s worth it.
Caffeine can mess with your sleep as well. I stick to one cup of coffee in the morning. A quarter of your one cup of coffee will stay in your system for 12 hours. Half of your cup of coffee will stay with you for 6-7 hours.
An alarming study showed that people who consumed one cup of coffee in the evening decreased the amount of deep sleep by 20%. You have to age by 15 years to produce that type of deficit in your deep sleep. You can do a coffee detox for a few days and see if your sleep and productivity improve.
Before You Fall Asleep Try Mind-Body Relaxation with Yoga
When I go to bed I like to listen to yoga Nidra on the free app InsightTimer. It helps me completely relax.
Breathwork for Sleep
When I really can’t fall asleep, I like to do the 4,7,8 breathing technique – inhale to the count of 4, hold to the count of 7 and exhale to the count of 8. It calms down your nervous system and you drift to sleep easily.
And I definitely stay away from the news.
A few more ideas for better sleep include making your room as dark as possible. I like to sleep with an eye mask and ear plugs. Avoid exercising before bed and eating at least 2 hours before bedtime. Taking supplements like Magnesium can help. If you like to listen to more tips about sleep, you can tune into this informative podcast from Dr. Chaterjee.
Research shows that it’s not the hours you sleep but the quality of hours you sleep. I like to get 7 – 8 hours of sleep.
Since I work from home, I can create my own schedule. This means I don’t use an alarm to wake up.
My goal is to listen to what my body needs every day and give it sufficient sleep. This way I can take care of my health and perform better.
If you want to be healthy, if you want to be a high performer, if you want to improve your well-being and become more resilient, you need to get adequate sleep.
Sleep is one of the main rituals I recommend in my recently launched Unhustle Morning™ Practices Online Course. Yes, I consider sleep so important that I included it in my top practices to be able to get into a state of flow, work less and achieve more so you can enjoy more time for you.