Your eyelids are getting heavy. Your head is bobbing around like a Weeble. Drool is threatening to exit the edges of your open mouth. You are getting sleeeeepy.
Have you ever felt like this in a meeting, at your desk, or during your commute?
No matter how smart we are, how clean we eat, or how much we exercise, if we aren’t consistently getting a good night’s sleep, we are robbing ourselves of precious energy that we could be using in the pursuit of our goals.
Almost half of us, however, don’t think we are getting enough of the zzz’s every night. In fact, according to The Better Sleep Council, 6 in 10 Americans crave sleep more than sex! (Really?!) Our chronic lack of sufficient sleep has caused our stress levels to increase, lessened our ability to concentrate, contributed to all sorts of unpleasant physical and mental ailments, and generally just made us nightmares to be around.
There is a wealth of information and support available for those of you who may be struggling with unhealthy sleep patterns. If you suffer from a chronic sleep disorder, you should definitely consider visiting your doctor or a sleep specialist. Here are a few actions I have personally taken to improve my nights which, in turn, have made my days more focused, happier and healthier:
Tidy up. A clean, uncluttered, visually-pleasing sleeping area will help you to sink into relaxation because you won’t be negatively, if unconsciously, resisting the space. This includes having fresh, clean bedding and comfy pillows. And no TV! Your bedroom should be a sanctuary, not a pig sty.
Drink less wine and more water. Sure, those nightly glasses of vino or scotch may help us to get to sleep, but they sure don’t help us to stay asleep. Keep those cocktails and any caffeinated beverages to a minimum, especially if you have a big meeting or presentation the next day.
Make dinner manageable. Eating a huge meal close to your bedtime is a sure-fire way to keep you uncomfortable and unable to fall into a deep sleep. Your body will be working too hard to digest that Old 96er steak instead of helping you relax into nighty-nighttime.
Soak away the stress. Never discount the power of a therapeutic Epsom salt bath. I throw in a few drops of my favorite essential oils (geranium and ylang ylang ROCK) to really make it luxurious and pampering. If you aren’t into bathing (which I cannot fathom as to why you wouldn’t be…guys, you can take a nightly bath and still be a manly man), take a nice hot shower to clean off the mental and physical gunk of the day.
Stretch it out. Have a yoga mat to unroll right next to your bed for a few rounds of Sun Salutations or even just some simple forward bends and seated twists. You won’t be fidgety when you crawl under the covers and you’ll wake up less stiff than you normally would.
Go analog. Research shows that looking at a screen right before bed causes people to take longer to fall asleep and reduces REM cycles. Power all of your devices down an hour or so before you are ready to go to sleep and crack open a book instead. You’ll have better dreams and feel more refreshed when the alarm goes off the next morning. (I know this one is really hard. I struggle with it too.)
Let the music play. Create a playlist specifically designed to chill you out at the end of the evening. Ideally your list of songs should include calming music that makes you feel relaxed, not wired or jittery. My personal favorite is the Ambient and Global Chill radio stations on Pandora. Think what you would hear in the lounge area of a top-notch spa.
Have a bedtime. Create an ideal time for lights out and do your level best to meet that every night. Your body likes consistency and will reward you with increased energy throughout the day.
See yourself sleeping. After you’ve turned the lights off, listen to a guided meditation recording specifically designed to help you fall into a restful night’s sleep or simply take a few moments to breathe deeply, let go of all of the stress of the day, and imagine that you are going to have one of the best night’s sleep you have ever enjoyed. See yourself in a deep, rested state. Tell your brain how you want to experience the night so it can start to execute your command.
If you are serious about growing your business or showing up stronger at work, don't buy into the nonsensical myth that strong leaders don’t need a good night’s sleep. It’s like saying that you are a better driver if you don’t wear a seatbelt. It’s illogical, archaic, and not supported with facts. By being mindful of your sleep needs and proactively addressing them, you’ll find that your life, health and work will be the stuff of dreams.
Theresa Rose is a business motivational speaker, award-winning author, and expert on mindfulness and resilience who works with organizations to create more innovative, adaptive cultures and happier, more productive workforces. Connect with Theresa atTheresaRose.com.