Written by featured coach, Joshua Shi
As a culture, sleep has become something to avoid. We’ve got things to do. Those seven seasons on Netflix aren’t going to binge themselves. We brag about the measly three to four hours that we got last night as if it were some right of passage. What impact does this have?
Grouchiness, weight gain, and disease are all side-effects of skimping out on sleep. According to Shawn Stevenson in Sleep Smarter, The International Agency for Research on Cancer “classifie(s) overnight shift work to be a Group 2A carcinogen” because of its impact on normal sleep cycles. That’s right, sleep deprivation sabotages your health. Even though most of us do not work overnight shifts, staying up too late has the same effects in lesser ways.
Additionally, Stevenson points out that thinking, distinguishing between ideas, social control, and being able to tell the difference between right and wrong are all impacted when we lose sleep. You aren’t you when you haven’t gotten enough rest.
We’ve all heard to get somewhere from 7-9 hours of sleep. I’m not here to tell you how much sleep you need, but to help you maximize the sleep you do have. So buckle up, relax, and let’s learn how to fall in love with the ⅓ of our lives that sets the tone for everything else.
1. A Change in Perspective
Think of sleep as a way to become the optimal you, not a chore to get out of the way. During sleep the brain reenergizes the body’s cells and literally rewires itself.
2. Blue is dead, red is good.
Blue light disrupts your body’s melatonin. Basically, blue light tricks your body into thinking it’s still daytime. Melatonin not only helps you sleep, but doctors also believe that it impacts aging and could be the number one cancer fighting hormone. I personally use F.lux for desktops and Twilight on mobile devices to filter out blue light.
3. Set a time and don’t be late.
The human body likes rhythm. Setting a time to consistently sleep and wake helps you to fall asleep quicker and rest better. Prime sleep time is between 10 PM-2 AM. Try not to be late. It’s also useful to note that your body releases human growth hormone at around 11 PM that feel like a second wind to your body. Instead of helping our body, we’re using healing hormones to power through our Facebook feeds.
4. Caffeine curfew
Caffeine has a 5-8 hour half life meaning that half the milligrams of caffeine you just consumed can be floating around your body 5-8 hours after drinking your bitter brew. Furthermore, the Journal of Clinical Sleep medicine conducted a study that showed that caffeine has a negative impact on sleep as far as six hours after consumption. Not only that, participants did not realize the lack of sleep caffeine caused. Simply, you’re addicted and suffering, but you don’t realize it.
Life is crazy. Exams are coming up. The kids are crazy. Health is bad. Anxiety is on the rise and just so happens to interfere with sleep. Take deep breaths and practice being grateful for what you have. You may not have been able to get everything you wanted to get done accomplished, but celebrate all the milestones along the way. Focusing on wins releases a flood of positive emotions. This makes for a happy brain and a sound night’s sleep.
We like to ask ourselves how little sleep we can get by with to survive. The real question is whether we are willing to give up an opportunity to thrive. What are your top tips for protecting your sleep?
Joshua Shi is a certified coach who helps his clients live a passion-filled life and have fun along the way. He believes your limitless potential is just waiting to be unleashed. Outside of coaching you'll find him sailing with the wind in his hair or pursuing new adventures with the people he loves.