What else is there to say about sleep that hasn’t already been said? Getting rest is common sense, right? Here’s the problem, common sense doesn’t always equal common practice. We must become intentional about sleeping properly if we ever plan to achieve peak performance.
Think about it. No one has ever gone through a year of intense training just to walk to the bottom of Mt. Everest, turn around, and then go home. It has never happened, not even once. We train to make it to the top of the mountain. We train to reach the peak.
What is it about peaks that pique our interest? Why is going up considered a success, and decline a failure? No one finishes school to one day climb down the corporate ladder. But what if I told you, the way up is down? What if I told you that hacking your life begins with hacking your rest? And the magical tool for this kind of hacking is called sleep.
But wait, first let’s first dispel a couple of myths about sleep in general.
• The body shuts down during sleep
Actually, the body wakes up. During sleep, our body processes, restores and heals itself. Sleep repairs our heart, blood vessels, and damaged cells. It boosts our immune system for those nasty germs waiting on every door knob you touch. While asleep, your muscles repair themselves. Brain function is improved and memories are solidified. Yep, all of this is happening while you snore. One last thing, sleep fights fat, balances hormones, all while recharging our cardiovascular system.
Sleep is a mechanic’s shop. It is where your body goes for a nightly tune-up.
• Busy professionals can reach peak performance operating on little to no sleep
Our society seems to celebrate those who work around the clock. Those who don’t need a lot of sleep seem to be really committed and productive. Nope. They’re just really tired and full of Red Bull. This is what happens when you don’t get enough sleep. Weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression, among other health risks. If none of that bothers you, how about this? A reduced sex drive. Are you awake now?
In my practice, The Peak Performer, I help professionals establish habits that generate top, sustainable performances through biohacking their personal and professional lives, I give them a tangible framework inclusive of a six-step pyramid. Having a thoughtful framework is critical because unless we properly sequence our activities, we can do the right thing in the wrong order. Eating well and exercising will do us little good if our body is ravished with fatigue from a lack of sleep. The sequence of wellness is as important as the wellness activity itself. In the sequence of health and wellness, sleep is first in line.
So how do we become proactive with increasing our sleep habits? Here’s a good place to start; turn off your phone.
To some, that very suggestion is blasphemy, but the light from cell phones or any electronic devices can disrupt our ability to rest. Gotta shut ‘em down before bedtime.
Oh, and by the way, biohacking your sleep does not include taking sleeping pills. They represent a short-term remedy to a long-term challenge. Instead, try natural supplements and nutrients like magnesium, melatonin, or lavender oil.
If we can increase our understanding of sleep, if we can increase our commitment to sleep, performing at our peak will become the norm, not the exception.
Lian Pham is a passionate, disruptive entrepreneur helping her clients establish peak performance in their personal and professional lives through biohacking. Lian is founder of The Peak Performer and co-founder of Peak Space both in Houston, Texas.