“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”
~ Thomas Dekker
Is sleep really that important? Sleep is one of the main lifestyle factors I teach in the V10 Health program. It is without a doubt, the greatest lifestyle factor for ‘Energy Management’. Without enough quality sleep, your living performance drops immediately. This is because sleep helps you recover from the demands you put on yourself each day and, at the same time, recharges your batteries so that you can take on the demands of the next day. You may be able to get away with one bad night’s sleep but if it becomes the norm, you’re asking for trouble. You will end up running on low batteries and looking for artificial stimulants such as caffeine products for a boost. I have seen this unhealthy cycle all too often and it is best to avoid it if healthy living is your goal. Also, when you are deprived of sleep and running low on energy, you will typically look for the path of least resistance. Instead of a workout, you’ll play games on your phone. Instead of cooking a nice healthy meal, you will order in fast food. Instead of challenging your mind with a good book, you’ll watch T.V. If you want to evolve and level up toward your goals, you need the energy to do it because positive change requires more of it.
What time should I go to bed? Everyone has a unique schedule so it is impractical to tell people a specific time they should go to bed. However, from a pure health perspective, I am obligated to share what is best in an ideal situation (for most people as we are all unique). If you cannot meet this standard then you do your best to follow it as closely as possible. Based on circadian rhythm charts (following the average rise and fall of the sun), I recommend you go to bed before 10 pm. Again, this is ideal and unless you have a schedule which cannot abide by this standard then it would be best for your health if you did (at least on most days).
What time should I wake up? If you are going to bed before 10 pm then it’s recommended that you rise at 6 am or 7 am. I know there are some schools of thought that promote waking up very early like 5 am. You can do this but it might not be what’s best for your health. We are all unique. I coach people to become more self-aware. The only way to know what is best for you is by trying out various wake up times. How do you know what is best? One word – performance! Try various sleep schedules and see where you wake up the most fresh, full of energy and raring to tackle the day.
How long should I sleep? I would say with 8-9 hours is a healthy average. However, what you need to recharge, can vary from day to day. If you had a very taxing day, you may require more sleep than usual. On other days, you may wake up feeling recharged after only 6 hours of sleep. I like giving people sleep schedules because a lot of people do better with structure. Without structure, it is easy to fall victim to extreme variability and many consecutive days without a good quality sleep. This can then lead to several symptoms such as dizziness, cloudiness, lethargy and an increased susceptibility to falling ill.
I am having trouble falling asleep, what can I do? There are a number of strategies and techniques that I teach to aid in inducing sleep. The purpose of all of them is to stimulate the P.N.S. (rest and digest part of the nervous system). Meditation before bedtime is one strategy I recommend. The deep breathing and slowing down of the mind help all of your bodily systems prepare for sleep. The next time you find yourself tossing and turning, try meditating. You don’t need to get up. Practice lying down with your eyes closed. Keep doing it until you fall asleep. Try it, it works!
I wake up often during the night what can I do? There could be a number of reasons why you are waking up so it really depends. If it’s stress related then the same strategy of calming the P.N.S. should help. If it’s because you need to go to the washroom one or more times then in this case, you may want to regulate your fluid intake better. Drink more in the day and less in the evening. Add a pinch of sea salt to your water to help your body absorb the water more efficiently. Another problem can be in the way you set up your sleep environment. Setting up a poor sleep environment can easily interrupt your sleep.
How do I set up a good sleep environment? You want to eliminate anything that stimulates the SNS (fight or flight part of your nervous system). These things can include lights, noises and electromagnetic energies. When the sun rises, the light initiates a cortisol or stress response which tells us to wake up. If your room is not dark enough, you can accidently stimulate this hormonal response. Loud or piercing type noises can have the same effect. Because of evolutionary instincts for our safety, you are programmed to respond in a flight or fight manner. Make sure to turn off all devices which produce light and or sounds. Temperature can be another trigger. Personally, I have a difficult time sleeping in very warm conditions. We are all unique so finding the right temperature for you is something you should do (trial and error eventually equals success)
Follow the guidelines above and you should notice an improvement on the quality and stability of your sleep. If you would like to know the exact quality of your current sleep, you can fill out the ‘V10 Health Lifestyle Questionnaire’ and get a v-score (1-10). Just like with any other part of health, it is wise to take things slowly and one step at a time. The protocol for someone with a low v-score is different than someone with a mid-range v-score. Therefore, I recommend following a sleep schedule that is right for your current v-score and then you can evolve at a good pace.
Your V10 Health Coach,
P.S. If you are interested, I also make a coaching video for each of these posts on YouTube. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel so you do not miss out on any of the valuable content I share. Here is the link for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6dJbBoD2wc