Do you crave sleep or fight sleep?
Are you so driven and ambitious that you feel sleep is a weakness which gets in your way? Or are you the opposite? You sleep so poorly that you struggle to stay awake in meetings or at work when you are performing detailed work like surgery?
What you read is true. MANY of us humans suffer from improper sleep. We get out of bed exhausted and are not able to perform at our best. This can happen to anybody – an airline pilot, a barista, or a student. Whether you are sitting for exams, flying a plane, or making a cappuccino, if you are tired, you are tired. Period!
Sleep is an essential, NOT a weakness.
Dozens of rigorous scientific studies, documented at the National Library of Medicine and available through PubMed Central, show the enhancement of all kinds of performance that comes from simply having adequate sleep.
Put simply, if you really are ambitious and want to climb the corporate ladder to a life of financial abundance and social relevance, or if you want to climb Mt. Everest, getting enough good sleep will improve your chances of success in all these endeavors!
If you have grown up like most Americans, you may have fallen for the unsubstantiated rumor that sleep is for the unmotivated and the lazy. I hope we can dispel that rumor, once and for all, so that you can begin relishing the optimum health and bursting sense of well-being that comes from just getting good sleep every night!
So how do we REALLY get good sleep?
We have read the different lists of recommended ways to get better sleep. Maybe we tried one or two things on the list for a couple of days or weeks, only to slide backwards into sleeplessness after one tiny slip-up.
A good example of Sleep Tips comes from the Mayo Clinic: things like setting a sleep schedule, making sure your bedroom is cool and dark, your stomach is neither empty nor stuffed, getting some exercise during the day, and so forth.
The lists are all great and have helped many people, but the main tip is not stated in most lists, and that tip is:
The MOST important step in getting good sleep is making a rock-solid decision:
I’m going to have the discipline and do what it takes!
Like many things, having a healthy life is all about striking a balance. It’s a lifestyle. You may have to look at your lack of sleep as a symptom of a life out of balance. And restoring balance is usually neither easy nor quick. Because good things take time and discipline. And a rock solid commitment and decision.
As the famous mountaineer William Hutchison Murray (1913-1996) said, “The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”
Good habits are hard to start and easy to stop, whereas bad habits are hard to stop and easy to start!
Important things almost always begin with the decision to keep the commitment you made to yourself! This is the start of a Good Habit! Keep your sleep schedule, no matter what! Commit to stop scrolling, leave the device in another room, close your eyes, and give your brain time to slow down and sleep.
If the day’s events have you tied up in anxiety and anger, make it a point to stay away from it after your morning check-in. Or, take a week off from bad news. You are in charge of your life, and you can plan it according to what you need to be healthy and particularly get good sleep.
And don’t worry – if something happens that you need to know, you will hear about it in less than 24 hours from a friend, neighbor, or family member. I guarantee it!
Need more motivation to start sleeping well?
“It turns out that sleep is a period during which the brain is engaged in a number of activities necessary to life—which are closely linked to quality of life.”
– Johns Hopkins sleep expert and neurologist Mark Wu, M.D., Ph.D
“Sleep is so important that sleep deprivation can be an indirect cause of death.”
– Holly Schiff, PsyD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Jewish Family Services of Greenwich Sleep
Schiff explains: being sleep-deprived increases every other risk we face, such as the risk of accidents. You are more likely to die if you are driving while sleep-deprived. Slips, trips, and falls are all more likely if you are lacking sleep, as well as the increased risk of stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and risk of suicide.
Having the discipline to follow the regimen you know works for your sleep has a huge upside. You will improve your performance and reduce your risk of serious injury in nearly every aspect of your life!
“Athletes who get an extra amount of sleep are likely to improve their performance.”
– Cheri Mah, Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory
Recent studies, such as one with the elite Stanford University NCAA men’s and women’s swimming teams, show that when athletes can sleep more, their energy levels, sense of well-being, and performance stats improve.
The Stanford study summarizes that adequate sleep is a clear predictor of performance in skill-based sports. Other studies show the same correlation between adequate sleep and job performance, classroom success, and levels of household harmony.
Have you ever had a toxic boss say, “Are you willing to work evenings and weekends?
If you can’t cut it, there are others who can!”
This is the work environment where the boss sends emails at 10:00 p.m. asking you to have something ready for tomorrow morning’s meeting. Or your super-star teammate on your current project texts you at 5:00 a.m.
For the person who values their quality of life, this is clearly a fast track to burnout, accompanied by insomnia and poor health. Perhaps that’s why studies in the National Library of Medicine show that around one out of three or 33% of people suffer from insomnia in the U.S.
HELP! How do I make this lifestyle change?
Starting with small, doable steps and very slowly building up from there is a strategy that many people have used to achieve long lasting success.
Use rewards! Give yourself the gift of a massage every week or two when you are sticking to your plan and achieving the success you long for. An added plus with the massage is that it will also help you sleep better!
Change your inner dialogue. A healthy lifestyle with adequate sleep is NOT an optional thing!
There can’t be any doors left open for failure. Failure is not an option. Following your sleep schedule is your only option, your only path forward. Keeping your room cool and dark is the only way things can be. No options but healthy options!
And if you are really struggling, talk to your doctor. There is so much great help available nowadays in the area of getting good sleep.
All this talk of sleep has me yawning!
Thank you for the opportunity to chat with you. These ideas I have shared with you have helped my many massage clients and me for over 30 years.
An optimum, healthy lifestyle, where you find yourself excited to be alive, is very possible for anyone who really decides that’s what they are going to do.
You can do it! Just decide, and then DO IT! It is SO worth it!