This is part 2 of a post on sleep. It will be fine to read as it is, but, if you want to understand the reasons behind this content, please check out Part 1 – habitual.hk/sleepfacts/

Why we practice

“Knowledge without action is wastefulness and action without knowledge is foolishness.”

— Al-Ghazali

We can know everything, we can be the most intelligent in the room but unless we practice what it is we know, words are wind. Knowing about sleep is different to putting it into practice. Practice is messy, it often does not work, but like your favourite team, when it comes together, the magic happens.

The BIG 5

Big 5 Sleep Beasts

  1. Light/screens.
  2. Alcohol.
  3. Caffeine.
  4. Travel/shift work/weekends.
  5. Stress.

These big 5 sleep beasts all impact our sleep and I will work through these in order of most tangible to the most subjective. I will look at this from the point of view of the unmotivated and unwilling – I will try not to make assumptions but alas, I do not know what I don’t know and I would welcome you to point out any blindspots in this post

That said, if you see gaps, if you see weakness in the post, do your best not to cling onto that for your reasons why this will not work for you…

Big and Quick Wins

The no brainers when it comes to sleep

  1. Aim to go to bed at a similar time each night (sleep cycles)
  2. Aim to get up at a similar time each morning (sleep cycles)
  3. Create a sleep routine
    1. Start 60 mins out from sleep (30 mins if pushed, 15 mins better than nothing)
    2. Dim Lights. (melatonin released)
    3. Put electronic devices away. (melatonin release)
    4. Remove distractions (reduce stress, slow the mind)
    5. Do something relaxing. (reduce stress, slow the mind)
    1. Have a hot bath/shower (drop body temperature)
    2. Some studies suggest a small carb intake, others suggest go to bed hungry (personal preference (PP))
  4. Create a health routine
    1. Know when to stop consuming caffeine during the day (PP)
    2. Know how much caffeine you are capable of consuming
    3. Know when to stop drinking alcohol (PP)
    4. Know when to stop eating (PP)
  5. Be engaged with this process and keep a diary to spot patterns.

When we are When we are stressed, we are likely to make poor health choices and as a result impact how much sleep we get and quality of sleep.

Habitual

Big and Challenging Wins.

Slow the mind, deal with stress.

REM sleep is where we deal with mental stress. If you were paying attention last week you will realise this is an issue. When we are stressed, we are likely to make poor health choices and as a result impact how much sleep we get and quality of sleep – therefore impacting our ability to get REM sleep as our body prioritises physical recovery first.

so….Slow the mind, deal with stress.

  1. Stretch/meditate/breathe.
  2. Read/do something that relaxes you.
  3. If you wake up in the night.
    1. Stretch/meditate/breathe.
    2. Write down whats on your mind, this will ensure you don’t forget this important bit of information – this way you can postpone the worry until tomorrow
    3. My preferred thing to do is an A-Z of gratitude. Starting with A work through what I am grateful for today; e.g., I am grateful for Air – it helps me breathe, I am grateful for my Breath – I can capture air, I am grateful for myself (Chris) someone has to be; etc., (I have never got past J)
    4. Read/do something that relaxes you
    5. If you cannot relax – Leave the room and only come back to bed when you start to feel sleepy again.
  4. Forgive your mind for being overactive, it’s not doing it to spite you, its chemicals and neurones firing like they only know how to do.
  5. Focus on simplicity, wether thats two digit numbers, sheep, Harry Potter Characters or favourite meal – keep it simple.

But I cant slow my mind…

Accept you have things you need to deal with, things that are causing you discomfort – aim to systematically deal with them one at a time, day by day, week by week – play the long game.

  1. What is it you are thinking about at night?
  2. What can you just drop?
  3. What needs your attention?
  4. What is in your control to deal with this, even just a little?
  5. Where is the resistance?
  6. What is the story behind that resistance?
  7. How can you recreate the story using your strengths?
  8. What are your strengths?
  9. What works for you when it works?
  10. How can you get a little bit of that in your life consistently?

Look at LIFE and sleep.

Everything you do impacts all you do. Take a moment to reflect where in your life you spend time on you to recharge and renew and to “put on your own gas mask”

Do you do any of the following

  • Read.
  • Listen to music .
  • Meditate.
  • Get a Massage .
  • Have meaningful conversations .
  • Drink tea .
  • Carry out relaxing hobbies.
  • Get out in the sunshine.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Work out.
  • Laugh.
  • Love.

Self care compounds as does self despair, changing one thing may not impact you, but add that to 2 or three little acts you take each day and you may just find your tipping point.

Do nothing and you certainly will not tip things in your favour.

But the Voice

Work with what you have, no matter how small that space is.

No matter what you read or what I say there will be a voice that says, that wont work for me.

The problem I have with that voice is that it’s not true. We forget everyone has that voice in their head, telling them similar stories – your voice maybe unique to you but resistance to change is universal and that voice is there for everyone to protect them and hold them to “Normal”.

But.

You have changed numerous times in your life, you have slept before, you have adapted before, you have learned before, you have been able to systematically adjust to your environment before because you are a living and breathing process – nothing about you is fixed.

Just one thing…

Even if you resist change, try this, even if just a little.

Practice with some intent the act of following the breath. Knowing your mind will go back to thinking – it’s what it does, knowing that no magical change will come about, knowing each time you catch yourself going back to thinking – you have just carried out a ‘rep’ for mindfulness – go again, go again, go again and go again….accept this will take time but what is the alternative?

Do you want to continue as you are?

Chris.

I must add if there is something going on that you do not want to address but are aware this maybe a route of your discomfort and suffering – please find the courage to speak to someone you trust


Sleep better and feel great with “SLEEP” – a two week course by Habitual

  • Develop the habit of better sleep
  • Learn AND apply the skills and tools needed to support you to sleep better.
  • Manage lifestyle by taking control of your environment.
  • Develop accountability with support from our coaches.

Habitual.hk is a health coaching company working with private clients, schools and organisations in Hong Kong to develop habits for lasting health. We provide, group coaching, private coaching, workshops and bespoke plans to create a healthy lasting culture.

Chris is the Founder and CEO. A health coach with a background in teaching, education and high performance sport. Qualified in sports science, education and psychology. A former International rugby coach, teacher of 16 years,  iron man and ultra spartan athlete, author of the ebook when life happens and public speaker.

References

Habitual.hk (2019). LIFE APP: Making health a habit.

Walker, M. P. (2017). Why we sleep: Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams.

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