SFH #117: A Checklist for Better Sleep

Tips and tricks for banking quality 💤

I used to take sleep for granted. I was always the type of sleeper where I was out the moment my head hit the pillow—I still am. I slept through most moons, getting a solid 7-9 in, though I’m trending to the lower end of the range these days.

Parenthood and the big city buzz spurred my newfound appreciation for a good night’s rest. The sound and light pollution of New York City combined with the early days of caregiving through the night had me scrambling for innovative solutions. It was a far cry from the kind of sleep deprivation that can be highly damaging to our health1, and the cumulative effects were genuine for me.2 Depression, poor eating habits, compromised immune system, fatigue, and more. Good news: I bounced back. I now get consistent, high-quality sleep after spending much time investigating, testing, and iterating on the best habits for me.

My radar now goes off when other people tell me about troubling sleep patterns. For example, I had a new client tell me about his 3 am - 5 am bedtime and 11 am wake-up time. 😳 As I told him, I'm not here to judge or deprive him of the lifestyle he desires. Instead, I reflected and shared my experience and a few other people's examples of healthy lessons and then leaned into the science behind sleep. The research is deep.3

Here is my A+ checklist for getting my most impactful night's sleep.😴 

  1. Be consistent. I want to get my circadian rhythm inflow. It's the biological clock that runs every cell in our body. ⏰

  2. Warm it up, Kris (couldn't resist). 🤣 In all seriousness, nearly every night, I'm getting my body warmed up before bedtime to ease into a more restful night of sleep. It's the foundational habit for my bedtime routine. I'm very privileged that I have options between a warm bath, hot tub, or sauna. The latter is the one that makes the most meaningful impact consistently on my deep sleep metrics4, though a warm bath is magical in its own right.

  3. I avoid caffeine past 2 pm. I'm best if I don't go past noon.

  4. Alcohol is a no-no. Though, if I indulge in a drink, I aim for sunlight. Daytime is my lowest risk proposition for a healthy night's sleep.

  5. A cold5 dark6 room keeps me asleep longer and more deeply.

  6. I use a few different tools to power down my body and brain. My bag of tricks includes.

    1. Blue light glasses < a MUST in my book. Best little-used hack for those of us that look at screens past sunset.

    2. Soothing music.

    3. Soothing scents.

    4. Warm herbal tea.

    5. Percussive massage once over to help release tension.

    6. Fiction reading (I wish I did it more often).

    7. And finally, breathing or vagus nerve exercises for powering down the low-level stress response. Cortisol can be a big kink in the works for good sleep.7

Without quality sleep, our systems will not function adequately, from our bodies to our brains. As a result, we lower our quality of life and healthfulness.

Check out the video below for more on healthy sleep. 📺

1

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/06/study-reveals-guts-role-in-causing-death-by-sleep-deprivation/

2

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449130/#:~:text=have%20been%20reported.-,Short%2Dterm%20consequences%20of%20sleep%20disruption%20include%20increased%20stress%20responsivity,problems%20in%20otherwise%20healthy%20individuals.

3

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2864873/

4

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5941775/d

5

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3427038/

6

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/light-and-sleep

7

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25905298/