We hammer on the importance of sleep here at Paragon Fitness and Nutrition, but let’s face it: It is an easy win when it is prioritized. Easier said than done, but your body needs some time to slow down before being ready to doze off for a good night’s sleep. As difficult as it is for you to go from 0-100 upon waking in the morning and it may be even more challenging to take it from 100-0 in the evening and expect to fall into a deep restorative sleep.
Having two toddlers running around, I know they need their established bedtime routine in order to have a smooth, cry-free journey into LaLa Land. Eat dinner, take a bath, put on jammies, wrestle on the bed to squeeze out that last bit of energy, read some books in a low light environment, brush teeth, drink some water, fall asleep. It works like a charm for the kiddos nearly every time. When it comes time for my bedtime routine, being the smart adult that I think I am, I think nothing of establishing a routine like my kids have and expect to be able to quit working on the computer, brush my teeth, take my clothes off, jump in bed, and fall asleep all in under ten minutes. Upon reflection, the blatant disconnect to the routine my kids went through a few hours earlier and my lack of any routine or normal bedtime is mind boggling. The body relies on a normal circadian rhythm and not having one is not effective for quality sleep. Quality sleep is paramount for high performance.
Working a full time job, helping to manage a household, starting up and running a business, and attempting to have some time to have an occasional social life doesn’t always leave much time for a long bedtime routine, but here are some quick tricks that help the process:
1. Dim the lights in the evening:
Since the birth of our first child, we’ve installed red lights in a few of the lamps around the house. Our bedroom and the kids bedroom was the first to go in. When night time feedings occurred, we flipped on a low powered red light, fed our baby, and we all went back to sleep pretty quickly. By keeping the lights low, and the spectrum shifted towards red (away from blue) we made it as easy as possible for our brains to avoid waking up and getting out of sleep mode.
Because this little trick just plain worked for us, we continue to utilize it during the kids’ bedtime routine. Bath time happens in red light, reading books before bed happens under low wattage, “warm” spectrum bulbs, and if any light is needed after bed time, a lamp with a red bulb is flipped on. Getting back to sleep is always easier.
Sleeping in a pitch black room was also a game changer for us. When we were first married, we just had regular blinds up in our room. They were closed, but the street light right outside our window lit up the room pretty well. We always woke up groggy despite eating very healthy, not having a television, having no WiFi or internet connection available at the time, and generally having healthy sleep habits. One day we went to Target and bought some black out shades for about $10 each. The next morning we both woke up feeling fresh and ready to hit the ground running. Having moved a few times since then, the first home improvement we always do is to install blackout curtains in the bedrooms.
Our circadian rhythm relies on the light/dark cycles from the sun. Artificial lighting can make having a regular circadian rhythm very difficult. Knowing this, and “hacking” the lighting spectrum you are exposed to in the evening can help with this.
Stay tuned for the next six parts in this series. If you'd like to jump start your bedtime routine or need extra help getting to sleep due to shift work or other aspects of the daily grind check out NightGainz in our store.