Sleep TipsAug 23, 2022
I’m a Stress Management Coach for Physical Therapists who are stressed out and overwhelmed and struggling to find joy in their job. I am also an expert on stress and stress management. Because I’ve had to be. I was that person who loved what I was doing (teaching) but hated my job and was stressed out all the time. But I’ve learned that I have so much more control than I ever thought. So, I’ve become an expert on techniques to manage my mind and my stress.
My theory is this: THE most important technique to manage stress TODAY is to have a good night’s sleep LAST NIGHT.
High-Quality Sleep fortifies both the immune and musculoskeletal systems. It helps balance hormones, boosts metabolism, increases energy, and, my personal favorite, improves brain function. Approximately 70 million Americans have difficulty sleeping. Here are my favorite tips for high-quality sleep.
THINGS TO DO DURING THE DAY
- Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. Regardless of the day. “Catching” up on sleep on Sunday is a myth. Your body needs its daily dose of sleep, 7.5 – 8.5 hours, depending on the person. You can’t bank sleep or catch up.
- First thing in the morning, get sunlight onto your eyes. Walk outside without your sunglasses, sit by the window if you are on a train, and brush your teeth in front of the window. Sunlight first thing is key, especially between 6 am and 8:30 am. If actual sunlight is not possible, turn on all the lights when you wake up and have a nice bright space in the morning. Sunlight on your eyes signals the hypothalamus to produce of cortisol and downregulates melatonin. We need cortisol to wake up, and we need melatonin to sleep. It is key that these two hormones are balanced. Light on the eyes first thing in the morning helps this balance.
- No caffeine after 2 pm. (Some sources say noon). Caffeine has a half-life of 12 hours. That means if you have one cup of coffee at 7 am, with 400 mg of caffeine, at 7 pm, 200 milligrams remain in your system. If you have an afternoon coffee habit to help you “power through,” try 8 – 16 oz of water instead.
- Exercise! Move your body. It doesn’t matter what you do. There is research on types of exercise and many opinions. In general, exercise reduces sleep onset latency, decreases total wake time, increases total sleep time, and improves sleep quality. Pick something you love and make a commitment to a daily schedule; at least 30 minutes is preferable; however, start with ten if that’s all you have. Your body and mind will thank you.
THINGS TO DO BEFORE BED
- At least (2) hours before bed, no screens. WHAAATT??? But my phone…I know, I know. The blue light from screens signals the hypothalamus (that guy again?) that it’s the morning which triggers a rise in cortisol. At night, we want a decrease in cortisol and a rise in melatonin. So, no screens. If you MUST, get some blue light-blocking glasses. The good ones with the yellowish tint. I use these (not endorsed!): us.boncharge.com.
- When you go to bed, the room must be DARK. So, cover your devices. I have a smoke detector in my room, it has a green light. I can’t shut it off, but cover it with “black out dots.” Search Amazon for “blackout dots.” You can put these little stickers over things that glow in your room.
- Make sure your room is cool. I live in the Northeast, so February is FREEZING. It’s tempting to jack up the heat. DON’T! You want your body to cool down so it can rest.
- Avoid Alcohol. Although alcohol may help you fall asleep, research indicates that alcohol disrupts REM sleep. PS: Alcohol seems to affect women worse than men. REM sleep, like all the phases of sleep, is necessary for a restful night. So, no more drinks before bed!
- Stop eating at least (2) hours before bed. Your gut needs to rest from its job of digestion. Upwards of 85% of serotonin is made in the gut. The gut needs to rest and rejuvenate so it can create this important neurotransmitter. If it’s digesting well into the evening, this work gets disrupted.
- Is sleep still elusive? Try an evening mediation. My favorite is Yoga Nidra. I have one on YouTube that you can try for free.
Here is my last piece of advice…don’t try them all at once!! Changing habits takes work, determination, and consistency. If you are trying to break your afternoon coffee habit, your late-night scrolling habit, and your glass of wine with dinner habit all at once, you are doomed to fail. The brain does not like all that change all at once. I encourage you to pick one. Try it for 21 days. Notice how it sticks after that time frame. THEN add another.
To learn more about me and my 1:1 coaching program, Let’s Talk.
Thanks for reading and have a restful night’s sleep!!
I’m a Life coach and I offer 1:1 coaching for physical therapists and other people in health care who want to love their life, jobs and career again. If you’ve been thinking, “All I need is a new job, new career, new something and I’ll feel better”… I can help you feel better right now, right HERE.
Click the link to book a free 45 minute discovery call and get started on your unique plan.
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