“It’s time for bed” a phrase most people would remember from their younger days.
If your parents were anything like mine they had a strict bedtime schedule.
As soon as ‘Fat Cat’ came on the TV, it was time for bed.
I hated it, I’d try every trick under the sun to try and stay up for an extra 30 minutes. To no avail, I’d be in bed and asleep, getting my 8 hours before waking up with the sun.
Fast forward a few years, I was no longer tied down by their rules and it was time for me to rebel. Nights no longer had structure and I’d stay up until the wee hours of the morning binging on television shows before falling asleep in front of the TV. The next day, I’d wake up and pull myself through the day like a zombie.
This cycle played out until it couldn’t anymore.
I got my first real job, it was time to get up before 9am.
Being the strategic planner I am, I decided to go to bed at 9:30pm for a 7am wake up.
“Genius” I thought…
I slipped into bed.
I stared at the ceiling…. “Any minute now I thought”
An hour drifted pass...
But, finally the moment had come for me to drift off to sleep.
The next day I was a tired mess but I was determined to get enough sleep. So, I soldiered on and my head hit the pillow again at 9:30pm, this time I drifted asleep faster.
After a few weeks my pattern was reestablished and I was back into a routine of falling asleep at 9:30 and waking up at the same time.
For many, sleep is hard.
They can’t fall asleep.
They wake up often and can’t get back to sleep.
Many struggle to get enough quality sleep which reduces their recovery and ability to train and get the results they are chasing.
If this is you, don’t worry you’re not alone.
How do you fix it though?
The easiest place to start is with a bedtime routine.
Start by fixing the hours you go to bed and wake up.
This simple fix allows your body to create rhythm & routine, which you will thrive with.
The next step is to create a bedtime routine, this routine has two main outcomes:
This routine over time can subconsciously anchor signals that it’s time for bed.
The practices in your own routine can be designed to increase the quality of your sleep by negating the environmental impact that technology can have on our sleep.
I’ve found that the routine is like an addiction, the more you do it, the deeper the habit becomes and the easier it is to get a good night’s rest.
What's the routine look like? Here’s mine.
When the sun goes down I whack on my snazzy blue light blockers. These nerdy-looking safety glasses aim to reduce the blue light that is exposed to the retina which helps to drop cortisol and increase melatonin allowing you to fall asleep when you’re ready. The reason I wear these glasses is because I love to watch an episode of my favorite TV show before bed. When I don’t watch TV I generally feel like I haven’t gotten to relax and wind down. This is why I choose to wear the glasses which allows me to still watch my favorite shows at night.
45 minutes before bed I switch the air-conditioning unit on in my room to cool the room down. Why? The research is pretty clear, low body temperatures increase deep sleep and improves recovery. Cool temperatures also decrease sleep latency and allows you to fall asleep quicker. Research has shown that a good nights sleep is best achieved in a room between 18 and 24 degrees celsius.
I then head off & shower. I try to end my shower with the 30s under cold water, this begins to drop my core body temperature which signals it’s time for sleep.
I then jump into bed. I dim the lights & switch my phone to airplane mode (which shuts the transceiver down) to block the electromagnetic radiation that is known to affect sleep quality.
My book comes out and I spend 5-10 minutes reading. This really allows me to start to fall asleep. If you read before bed, I’d suggest reading a real book instead of reading off of a tablet or kindle to avoid the blue light associated with these devices.
Then it’s time for sleep!
It’s a simple routine but it works. I’ve found that the more consistent I am, the better my sleep and the faster I fall asleep; the two things most people struggle with.
Struggle falling asleep? Maybe it’s time to implement a sleep routine.