8 Reasons You Aren’t Sleeping Effectively (And How to Take Back The Night!)
Written By Zack Franke
Sleep. We all know it is important.
Appropriate and high quality sleep is needed for optimal growth and repair both physically and mentally. It keeps us sharp, boosts our immune system, and helps reduce our needs for sugar, caffeine, and energy drinks that can, over time,do tremendous harm to our health.
Proper sleep habits have been linked to reducing risk for everything from obesity and Type II diabetes1, depression2,to evencoronary heart disease3.
I want you to think back to the last time you had your very own perfect night’s sleep. How awesome did it feel to have your head hit the pillow,be out like a light in less than a minute, and wake up well rested, alert, and full of abundant, kick-ass energy!?
Maybe you are shaking your head thinking, “Hey, this is the real world buddy, nobody sleeps like that anymore!” Maybe it’s been 1, 2, or 5+ years since you’ve had a sleep like that. Well, I declare that you canhave that kind of sleep again and can start having it happen much more often. But just like anything worth achieving, you’re going to have to take action!
Here are 8 reasons you might not be sleeping effectively and some easy strategies to help you get back on track!
1) You aren’t getting to bed early enough
The closer to 10pm that you can get to sleep, the better! Human growth hormone (hGH) production spikes at 10pm, Midnight, and 2am, so if you are going to sleep consistently past 10pm, you’re missing a key window and doing yourself a huge disservice, increasing the likelihood of waking up fatigued, and quietly sabotaging your fat loss or muscle gain efforts!
Strategy: Challenge yourself to get to bed by 10pm at least 3 times this week. Notice the difference you feel the next day. It might be just the motivation you need to make a new habit!
2) You are too stressed
Are you in a job you hate? Has a relationship gone bad? Financial issues? Chronic stress leads to huge increases in cortisol, which among many other things,increases inflammation, and actually suppresses the release of melatonin, a hormone vital to getting proper rest.
Strategy: Practice stress reduction techniques regularly! Whether it’s meditation, yoga, prayer, breathing exercises, painting, going for a walk, or really anything else that you find lowers your stress, make a point to actively de-stresseveryday.
BONUS Tip: Work towards identifying the real cause of your stress and take bold action to remedy the situation over time.
3) You’ve fallen victim to the screen
Cell phones. Tablets. Laptops. Gameboys. (…AnyTetris fans out there?) Our bodies are meant to work in harmony with the natural rhythm of the day. When we expose ourselves to bright lights at night, our bodies get confused!
Strategy:Try just one day this week to put all bright lights and screens down by 9pm. No email. No Facebook. No Netflix. No Candy Crush.No Tinder. (Yes. I said it.) Grab that book you’ve “been meaning to finish,” curl up on a chair, and as soon as those eyes start drooping, give in and head straight to bed! Notice how you feel the next day.
4) You are drinking too much caffeine
Making Starbucks runs in the morning, after lunch, and on the way home from work? Having too much caffeine throughout the day can have a real impact on how quickly you can get to sleep at night.
Strategy: Gradually wean yourself off of the caffeine. Start simple. If you currently drink 3 coffees a day, move to just 2. A week later, move to one. Eventually, you might be able to cut the caffeine entirely! Also watch out for when you are consuming caffeine. Having it in the morning is obviously not as bad as having your latte two hours before bed.
5) You need a new pillow
I am not getting paid in any way for this endorsement, but I have found the mother of all pillows in my opinion. Yes, it’s the “As Seen On TV,” My Pillow. It has made all the difference in the world with my chronic shoulder pain that I used to get.It stays firm and keeps cool during the night—double win!
Strategy: If you find yourself waking up with a stiff neck, sore shoulders, or lower back pain, consider exploring and investing in a nice pillow. It can make HUGE difference in your sleep quality!
6) You are in your own head
How many times when we “try to go to sleep” do we end up sitting in our bed for 45 minutes thinking about how badly we want to go to sleep? All the while, each passing minute gets us angrier and more frustrated!
Strategy: If you find yourself in this common situation, I always recommend my clients get a distraction. Search the Apple or Droid app store for any number of simple 10 min guided meditation or “white noise” apps! (“Why yes, I would like to listen to ocean waves, tropical birds chirping, and monks chanting at the same time…”)
7) You are exercising too close to bedtime
I hesitate to list this one for two reasons. First, kudosto you for actually finding the time to workout! Two, I’ve seen people for whom working out before bed actually helps them get to sleep earlier. That said, for many, this is a big no-no.
Strategy: Try working out early in the morning. If that’s just not possible, try earlier in the evening. If that’s still not possible, try taking a cold shower before bed after you’ve hit the gym. I’ve seen this help tremendously with a lot of people, myself included!
8) You are waking up at the wrong time
Our bodies work on the circadian rhythm (rise with the sun, rest with the sunset) and are best suited to wake up just after REM sleep. A typical sleep cycle lasts 90 minutes. Wake up at the wrong time in the cycle, particularly during deep sleep or mid-dream (i.e. REM) sleep, and even if you got your recommended 7+ hours of shuteye, you might still wake up feeling like a groggy zombie!
Strategy: Get the Sleep Cycle app and try it out. [It’s $Free.99] For me, I found out after a month of use, that I consistently wake up and feel my best after about 7 hours and 20 minutes of sleep. So now, I always set my alarm for 7 hours and 25 minutes. (It usually takes me no more than about 5 minutes to fall asleep these days). To be fair, there is some debate on whether apps and devices like these arejust placebo or not, but from my own experience, it certainly worked for me!
So, there you go. 8 reasons that may be hindering you from getting the amazing sleep we all wish we could have. My recommendation is to use this list as a jumping off point. Something that works for me, or even 1,000 other people, might not work for you, so experiment, trust yourself, and follow your intuition!
I guarantee that if you start putting in the work and implementing some of these strategies to improve your sleep, you can and will start to make tremendous strides!
Sweet dreams, friends. Sweet dreams.
About the Author
Zach Franke is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor or more simply put, a “Health Coach.” He works everyday with men and women, who are struggling to lose weight and embrace a healthier lifestyle, to finally Get Healthy and Get Happy. From complete processed food junkie to recently quitting his corporate job to spread the message of health and wellness far and wide, Health Coach Zach is a loving ally on your personal wellness journey. Download your copy of his free report, “10 Steps to End Sugar Cravings Forever ! (HINT: They will jumpstart your weight loss too!) today at www.healthcoachzach.com or visit him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/healthcoachzach
1.Inadequate sleep as a contributor to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
McNeil J, Doucet E, Chaput JP.
Can J Diabetes. 2013 Apr;37(2):103-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2013.02.060. Epub 2013 Apr 23
2. Goldberg, J..N.p.. Web. 19 Nov 2013. <http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-sleep-disorder>.
3. Sleep duration, insomnia, and coronary heart disease
Sands-Lincoln M, Loucks EB, Lu B, Carskadon MA, Sharkey K, Stefanick ML, Ockene J, Shah N, Hairston KG, Robinson JG, Limacher M, Hale L, Eaton CB.
J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2013 Jun;22(6):477-86. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2012.3918. Epub 2013 May 7.
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Drew Canole is a rockstar in the world of fitness, nutrition and mindset, with a huge heart for others and doing his part to transform the world, one person at a time.
As the founder and CEO of Fitlife.TV, he is committed to sharing educational, inspirational and entertaining videos and articles about health, fitness, healing and longevity. He is also a best selling author and the founder of Organifi, an organic, incredibly delicious greens powder, chock-full of superfoods to make juicing easy no matter your busy schedule.
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