Sleep is a weapon. At least that’s what Pete Carroll and the coaching staff for the Seattle Seahawks are teaching their football team. For a team that’s highly rated and a recent Superbowl champ, it isn’t likely that they are wasting valuable time by snoozing instead of working out in the gym or watching hours of game footage. The Seahawks have learned what has always been true but is understood and valued today more than ever: High performance and lasting energy ultimately have to come from sleep, first and foremost. Performance-boosting medicines and beverages, protein bars, workout regiments, coffee, etc., all have their place, to be sure. But if proper sleep is not experienced, no one will ever operate at the high level of performance and energy that they would experience if they slept correctly.
“Slept correctly?” For those of us who are not professional athletes, we might wonder what “correct sleep” looks like. Crazed kids, busy work schedules, mounting household chores, school work and other daily busyness inhibits the majority of people from sleeping optimally. Rather than bore you with details and scholarly studies, let’s just jump in to some of the most effective ways to better prepare you to have the best, optimum sleep possible.
- Sleep 7-9 hours, every night, without exception. Sleep debt occurs when our bodies need to catch up on zzzz’s, and many times that sleep debt affects our daily performance at work and at home. Experiencing drooping eyes, drinking multiple cups of coffee or energy drinks, the inability to remain attentive to tasks…these are all indicators of sleep debt. No one will applaud you for staying up until the wee hours of the morning. What people will notice is boosted performance during the day. Do yourself (and your job and family life) a favor and get enough sleep every night.
- Go to bed earlier. It is no secret that the quality of your 7-9 hours of sleep each night is dramatically increased when experienced earlier in the night than later. This is an especially challenging reality for night-owls to accept, but a reality nonetheless. Sleeping from 10pm-6am is far better for you than sleeping from midnight-8am. It’s science. Don’t argue the science.
- Limit your caffeine later in the day. Caffeine can still be in your system 8-14 hours after you ingest it. Struggles with falling asleep can many times be evidence of lingering caffeine in your system.
- Remove distracting noises or lights. Noisy neighbors, traffic sounds, sirens and other nighttime noises can cause sleep problems. Download a white noise app on your smart phone and set it to last a few hours into the night to ensure you fall asleep quickly when it is most difficult to do so.
- Set your room temperature low. Your internal body temperature needs to drop a couple of degrees in order to facilitate deep and lasting sleep. Heavy blankets and warm rooms that cause you to sweat will make for uncomfortable sleep experiences, waking you up throughout the night and causing you to toss and turn.
- Get a better mattress. Many people hold on to their mattresses (and pillows!) long after they should have been replaced. You spend a third of your life in bed. There is no excuse for sleeping on a poor or old mattress. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to get a great mattress, either. Innovative sleep companies like Noomi and other online mattress retailers have completely changed the old, outdated mattress industry, allowing you to order amazingly comfortable and affordable mattresses delivered right to your door. You owe it to yourself to sleep deeply. No excuses. If you don’t really love your mattress, make the change to a Noomi or similar mattress today.
Sleep isn’t laziness. Sleep is necessary. Great sleep positively affects your personality, your career, your family life, your decision-making ability, your schooling, and so much more. Sleep is a weapon, and when used properly, it can give you the leg up you need to achieve whatever goals you’re chasing.
Start making these changes today. We dare you. No, we double dog dare you.