When it comes to building a better body and maximizing our health there are many things we do right. We lift heavy weights using compound exercises. We eat good healthy meals and throw out crap foods. We know that working out, eating healthy, and getting adequate amounts of sleep are good for us. Yet when it comes to peak physical and mental condition sleep often get shafted as exercise and nutrition’s ugly sister.
This is unfortunate as sleep makes up just a large part of living a healthy life as exercise and nutrition do. Not just being healthy physically but mentally as well. Friends and relatives usually have no trouble telling when we’ve had less than adequate sleep the night before.
I think the reason sleep comes in a distant third in our quest for better healthy is twofold.
First off sleep is passive. You don’t really do anything during sleep. Sleep for the most part takes care of itself. You can plan out a diet and you can measure your sets and reps but sleep is a little trickier. Sure you can measure total hours slept but then again you can’t tell exactly what time you fell asleep and then what were the quality of those hours?
Second sleep isn’t sexy. You can jazz up an exercise or even a nutrition plan. A sleep plan, not so much. That brings another point. Who even has a sleep plan? Sure we’ve all had or hopefully are on exercise and nutrition plans yet sleep…most likely not.
But is Sleep Even Important?
I would argue that sleep is just as essential as nutrition and exercise to overall health and even more important than exercise and nutrition for mental health and productivity. Productivity that is essential for life. Whether building a business, reading to expand our mind, or simply dealing with day to day life problems.
I try to take a holistic view and look at total health as 33% exercise, 33% nutrition, and 33% sleep.
A common trend I’ve seen is that men will often focus on exercise plans to the detriment of nutrition and women vice versa while both neglect sleep. One reason for this is that often the benefits of sleep are hard to bottle up or sell for three easy payments of 19.99 (cash or credit). Yet the benefits of sleep are varied and many. Below are just some of the benefits of getting a full night of sleep.
- Improved cognitive function allowing us to get more done with less effort
- Improved mood
- Longer attention span
- Better regulation of weight meaning more muscle, less fat
- More resistant to stress
- Higher testosterone levels which leads to all sorts of benefits like a higher drive for both sex and achievement
- Improved memory and reading retention
As we can see sleep pays a crucial role in our lives. For men who want to get the most out of their lives it helps to have a plan before falling asleep.
Below is the plan that I have personally used over the past couple of months that has led to falling asleep much faster, having stronger more intense dreams, and waking up refreshed more often than not. Alright so the three steps.
Step 1 – Sleep in A Cool Room
There are a number of ways to accomplish this. There are two I have used and below are my experiences with each.
I live in Florida and it gets hot. Really hot. Making it nearly impossible to fall asleep sometimes. To remedy this I came up with a couple of solutions other than increasing the air bill.
First was to get a fan. I have tried positioning my bed directly under the ceiling fan but unless you have a particularly powerful fan this doesn’t work very well. After moving my bed back to the corner of the room the next fan I tried was a small circular fan. The fan cost about ten bucks at Wal-Mart. I placed it on a dresser by the edge of my bed and put it on full blast. It definitely helped but still needed more. I eventually settled on a box fan that while noisy gets the job done. Not the mention eventually the sound of the box fan can be relaxing once you’re used to it and the sound can even serve as a trigger to make you sleepy.
Another method is to sleep naked. I remember I had a friend tell me that he slept naked and I thought he was weird. Then I tried it and have never been back. There is something soothing and natural about sleeping naked. Some of you make think it’s weird but if you’re having trouble getting to sleep because of the heat, it’s worth it. Not to mention feeling a little weird is worth all the benefits listed above. Point is don’t knock it until you try it. Obviously it you live in a dorm or have a similar situation you may have to forgo this strategy.
Step 2 – Complete Darkness
I heard somewhere that even the light flashing on your laptop can be enough to tell your brain that there is daylight and interfere with falling asleep. Whether this is true or not I can’t say. What I can say is that sleeping in a dark room has made a night and day difference in the quality of my sleep.
The first thing to do is get rid of any electronic lights. So if you have a laptop, speakers, or anything else that gives off light even if it’s a little blip, it should be covered before you go to bed. In addition to this it is best to stop using any electronic devices (including the TV) at least an hour before going to bed. I place my laptop under a chair in my room with the light facing toward the wall away from my sight. Use whatever is available to you to obstruct the light from your electronic devices.
The second step is to close your blinds. Allow your body to wake you up naturally and not when the sun hits your eyes. Having your blinds down also helps to keep your room cool during the day making for a better sleeping environment at night. Putting your blinds down is doubly important in you live in a city or suburb and have man made lights shining in on you.
The third step is an optional one but I have found it to be a big help and that is to buy a sleep mask. I bought a cheap one off Amazon that has a gel pad that slips in and out. You can put the gel pad in the freezer for minute or two before bed to help cool your whole body down when you put it on. The only problem with this is that some people find it hard to sleep in a sleep mask. You can try different brands or just make sure your room is dark by following the two steps above.
Step 3 – Listen to Relaxing Music
This has been a game changer for me. What I do is plug my phone in next to my bed and go to YouTube. There I look up music to sleep too usually either music marked for lucid dreaming or meditation. Two good channels are Spiritual Moment and YellowBrickCinema. I pick the tracks that run anywhere from three to eight hours.
I place my phone screen down on a dresser at the head of my bed and just let the music play. I don’t use headphones as I have never been able to go to sleep with them but they may work for some of you. Personally I prefer having the music go throughout the room.
Something I noticed about when I started playing the music is that I have been having much more intense and vivid dreams. This could be a coincidence or completely in my head but nevertheless it’s something I’ve noticed. Then again it could be because the quality of sleep I’m getting has improved.
This works especially well for when you lay down and can’t seem to shut off your mind. Putting on the music and shutting out the world helps you to drift into unconsciousness instead of twisting and turning in your bed. This also offers a perfect time to pray or meditate.
For those of you who have trouble focusing throughout the day or eat right and exercise yet can’t seem to make much progress in the gym. Sleep could very well be the game changer for you. So remember.
- Cool down the room you sleep in either by using fans or sleeping naked.
- Make your room as dark as possible by covering any electronic lights and shutting the blinds and stay away from electronic devices an hour before bed.
- Listen to relaxing music as you go to bed. The Spiritual Moment and YellowBrickCinema YouTube channels both have plenty of tracks.
Remember sleep is an essential part of your overall health and one that should be ignored if you intend on living your life to the fullest.