This article was originally published on April 10, 2018.
We live in a day and age when sleep seems to be overrated. Especially in places like NYC where there is 24/7 stimulation and people sometimes live more to work than work to live, sleep often gets the shorter end of the stick. Having worked in startups before, where they say that ‘sleep is for the dead,’ I know exactly how the pressure to just not care about your sleep, is huge.
When I was in grad school, I often went to bed late and woke up super early. 6 hours of sleep was what I thought was enough and as a morning person, I definitely wanted to get these valuable early hours in, during which I feel the most productive. I often crashed in the afternoon because 6 hours was actually not enough and my body and mind needed more rest.
I learned my lesson. Energy levels, concentration, focus and efficiency are all things I am striving for. I can only achieve all of the above if I have a healthy and clean sleep hygiene, which I have been implementing over the last couple of years. This means during the week, 8 hours each night, being in bed before 10:30pm and waking up at 6am (or 5:58am to be precise). This rhythm can obviously vary for people but 8 hours seems to be the right amount of sleep across the board. Moreover, the less sleep, the more cortisol you have in your body. This stress hormone directly influenced your appetite and generally makes you have more cravings for fattier, more sugary and more calorie dense foods. Weight gain is almost inevitable.
Now how to you escape this vicious circle of sleep deprivation, that can harm you on so many levels? Have a look at 5 tips below:
1. Find your ideal sleeping times and stick to them: most people need 8 hours of sleep and it’s generally said that the hours before midnight are more valuable. But we each have our own rhythm, so find your ideal bed time and make sure it permits you to sleep for 8 hours.
2. Ban technology from the bedroom: you should turn off all technology about an hour before bedtime. The screens stimulate us and keep us awake. In addition, depending on what texting conversation you are having right before going to bed, you might be stressed or worried.
3. Make sure you sleep with a cool head: turn off the heater and make sure your room is cool. You don’t want to be sweating while you are sleeping as it can wake you up and interrupt your sleep. If necessary, rather put on an extra layer than heating up your room.
4. Eat dinner early: not always easy but don’t make any late night dinner plans during the week. You will a) not be able to go to bed on time and b) your body will be in digestive mode which can also prevent you from having a good night of rest. Rather try to eat dinner between 7pm and 7.30pm if you go to bed at 10pm so you have ample time to digest before.
5. Relax before sleeping: maybe by reading a book, listening to some music, writing in a journal or taking a bath. The most important is to tell your nervous system that it can switch from fight or flight mode to rest and relax so do something utterly relaxing before going to bed.
I hope this tips can be helpful to stick to your sleeping guns. The most essential is to make sleep a priority and realize how much more productive you will be in your life, if you just sleep enough. On this note, have a good (and long) night!
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Photo: Nomao Saeki via Unsplash