Sleep is one of the most underrated activities that you can do for your health and transformation goals.

I see more people focusing on so many other forms of rest and recuperation from ice baths, supplements, cyro-therapy, light therapy, CBD, etc… but maybe putting the same focus on your sleep would help even more. 

Many of us know the importance of sleep, but then why is it the first thing to suffer, or get cut short, during a hectic day? 

Fact is if you want to function your best, recover from the day, look younger, be stronger, get leaner, all the things that we want you to focus on getting some good quality rest is key.

Celebrity trainer Duffy Gaver 

“To look amazing, you have to train amazing, eat amazing, and sleep amazing.” 

If your reading this now, you’re looking for ways to get better sleep and no longer play the sleep math game. You know, the one where you wake up in the middle of the night and go “if I fall asleep now, then I can get ‘x’ more hours of sleep.” I hate that math game; I’d rather be sleeping.

 

Pillows – spinal alignment

Look at your pillow? Does it have drool stains? It’s so floppy that you have to fold it several times to support your head? Or is it too firm that your arms fall asleep? 

Many of us know the benefits of a good mattress, but what about your pillows? 

You can have the 6,000 dollar mattress, but if you have the same pillow as you did when you were in college, your missing the boat. 

The right pillow can keep your spine in proper alignment, and if your spine is in proper alignment then there is better blood flow, it’s a more natural position which is less stress on your body, you wake up less often through the night, no longer waking up with your hands and arms asleep. 

An excellent way to judge this is lay down on your favorite pillow and take a pic of your upper torso and neck alignment. If it appears unnatural, then change pillows. 

I’d recommend getting something that is ADJUSTABLE, because hell, you’re not quite sure what is suppose to feel good. An inexpensive option is the Coop pillow (it’s on Amazon); this will allow you to adjust the stuffing until you find that support that you like. I’m not saying that pillow is the answer, but it’s a starting point. 

 

Caffeine – You’re more sensitive than you think

“I can drink a cup of coffee and still fall asleep.”

That’s not necessarily a good thing :-/

Caffeine is a stimulant, and if you can fall asleep after a cup of coffee or any other energy drink, then you may be more tired than you realize. 

Now, it’s true that some people are genetically fast metabolizers of caffeine, but that’s not as many as you think. We do genetic testing here at RTC, and only about 15% of the people we test come back as fast metabolizers. Everyone else is just tired.

Caffeine isn’t bad, nor would I consider it good, but in moderation, it’s okay. Cut the caffeine out 10-12 hours before your bedtime, even though you may be one of the few fast metabolizers of caffeine it can still take a while for your body to calm down due to the effects of caffeine. 

Even though your state of mind may be not amped up anymore, your body very well could be still in an active and ready state, which won’t allow for very deep and restful sleep. 

 

Food

THIS is what I see cause most people to stay up and not sleep well during the day. 

Ideally, you would want to stop eating several hours before bed to minimize digestion. SOME foods (like the foods you shouldn’t be eating) are hard on the body, can cause some digestion issues, and digestion issues can interrupt sleep. 

Ever gone to bed with a bloated stomach and slept like crap? 

The last meal of the day should be lighter and composed of as close to nature as possible to minimize any potential digestion issues. I would also recommend taking probiotics on the regular. 

 

Routine

Humans are creatures of habit; it many ways we love routine. Our bodies crave it.

You may have noticed that your body will start to get hungry at certain times of the day, you’ll also get tired at certain times, without even realizing it you’ll see that you’ve created a routine. 

The kicker is not all routines are good, so the goal is to create a GOOD sleep routine. 

Routine, especially before bed, is paramount to helping you fall AND stay asleep. 

Ideally, you want to create a nighttime ritual or routine that you follow that signals to your body; it’s time for bed. 

What I personally do is:

-2 hours before bed last meal take all my nighttime supplements (probiotics, vitamins, etc..)

-1 hour before -start to make the house dark and turn the AC down. 

-30min before. Shut off all electronics (TV, phone, iPads, etc…)

-15min before wash face, brush teeth, get cleaned up (I find that I sleep better when I’m feeling clean before bed, I don’t like sleep when I can feel the days dirt and grim on me)

-Make room dark as possible, and shut off lights 

-If my mind is still active, then I’ll read a book (mostly on personal development, I can’t read engrossing stories before bed, or I won’t fall asleep)

Try that, or something similar, for a month, and you’ll notice you fall asleep faster and hit deeper states of sleep sooner and longer. 

 

Mobility

This may sound familiar, do you find that even after buying the expensive mattress, pillows and all the sleep stuff you can’t get comfortable?

One of the reasons we see this happen is because people are too tight, not mobile or flexible. 

When your muscles are already tight, pulling on your knees, hips, low back then, it becomes a nightly routine of tossing and turning to find a comfortable sleeping position. 

You’ll find that you’re not even sleeping well, but just trying to find a way to lay down where your body doesn’t hurt, or body parts aren’t falling asleep until it’s time to get up.

One of the better things you can do is loosen up. Stretch, foam roll, become more mobile. 

Now, this isn’t one of those overnight fixes. Becoming more mobile/flexible is just like trying to lose weight; it’s something that should be done daily. 

Take 10min to foam roll those tight achy muscles, stretch, GET flexible, and what you will notice is that each day, each week, you’ll toss and turn less and start to sleep deeper, longer. 

Eventually, you’ll be able to sleep with a rested, relaxed body without anything pulling on your joints. 

 

TV/phones

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but bright screens before bed can disrupt sleep.

Our bodies were designed to rise and fall asleep with the rise of the sun. 

When the sun goes down and it gets dark, your body starts to produce melatonin that will gradually make you feel sleepy. This product goes on through the night until the early hours of the morning or signs of light. 

When you watch TV, play on your phone, or other electronic devices so close to the bed, then the light that emitted can delay the secretion of melatonin and disrupt that hormones roll. 

Now you may still feel that you can fall asleep (I’m guilty of this), but studies have shown over and over that sleeping with the TV on, or too much light too close to the bed, DOES affect how deeply you sleep. 

It ends up looking more like a cat nap of just sleeping every hour vs. a solid 6+ hours of sleep.

To prevent this, turn off all electronic screens, phones, TVs, iPad an hour before bed. 

Yes, you’ll have to sit down and talk to your loved one or read a book, but you’ll find that you fall asleep much sooner, and you begin sleeping much deeper. 

 

Spend time fixing your sleep, spend time working on sleeping better, spend more of your time enhancing your quality of sleep, and it’s an investment that will pay you back 10 fold.

Just think of it this way. When you sleep well, you look good, your mentally sharp, your quick, energetic, on point. Basically, you feel like you can take over the world. Now, when you sleep crappy, everything else in like is crappy. 

No more crappy sleep, focus on getting the best sleep possible. 

 

In Health and Awesomeness,

Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.

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