It’s sleep training but not as you know it.
You might be familiar (or not, that’s cool) with the term ‘sleep training’ – it’s a technique parents use to teach their babies how to sleep through the night – but, when you think about it – er, probably not when you’re trying to catch those elusive Zzzs, though – we should all treat sleep as we do training. Whether your exercise MO is running or reformer, it’s likely you have some sort of routine in place that helps you get the most out of your session, from warm up to cool down.
Now, despite what all those bed-is-bae memes might suggest, a satisfying shut-eye session can be harder to come by than a pair of Yeezys, despite what all those prolific Instagrammers might be posting.
Which is why it’s time we start treating our rest with the same vigorous detail as we do our workout schedule. Here, Professor David Hillman, chair of the Sleep Health Foundation, opens our eyes on how to better keep them shut.
The warm-up is crucial
You might not have a quirky pre-game ritual before you workout – we’re not all Usain Bolt, sadly – but that doesn’t mean you skip stretching and selecting an A+ playlist. Similarly, serious preparation should occur half an hour to an hour before you intend to nod off, says Professor Hillman. “You need to get the bedroom environment right – this includes sound, lighting and room temperature – and remove all distractions, including your phone and social media after a certain point. I also wouldn’t recommend having a TV in the bedroom, but some people watch it to wind down, and it can be okay before bed, unless the content is particularly violent or rousing.”
“I would also recommend that before you sleep every evening, you take time to wind down. If you’re a worrier, set aside ‘worry time’ where you sit down with a pen and paper and write your anxieties down before bed. This technique will help you put things aside.”
In terms of foods, Professor Hillman suggests steering clear from late, heavy and spicy meals, caffeine and alcohol – “this can aggravate indigestion and keep you awake” which, of course, is not ideal. You want to go to bed full – but not too full – so eating two hours prior is best.
Also, having a bedtime isn’t as infantile as it sounds. “The body has an internal clock and hormones that control sleepiness and wakefulness. This clock works best if there is a regular sleep routine,” according to the Sleep Health Foundation.
Start gaining momentum
After you’ve put yourself in the right mindset, establish the pace and tone of your sleep, as would as you would at the start of your sweat session. This stage is all about comfort, says Professor Hillman, so if you’re a pillow hugger or a fiend for fortresses (just us, then?), now’s the time to indulge yourself.
Feel the deep burn
So far so good? It’s time to reach your peak level of intensity. “If you prepared well [a deep sleep] will occur as a matter of ease,” says Professor Hillman. “Most adults between the ages of 20-35 need 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep a night, and, like any routine, after a point your brain will do it for you.”
The cool down
Yes, waking up can certainly be a come down, but if you’ve slept well, you’ll feel invigorated (not to mention, a little smug) throughout the day. If you haven’t slept well – been there – you’ll be, in no hyperbolic terms, a mess. “People tend to short-change themselves when it comes to sleeping, because they regard it as a waste of time. But we can’t change physiology, and if you short-change your sleep, you’re short-change yourself.” (Yeah, it really is like the gym, you guys.)
“Without a healthy sleep pattern, you’ll produce a state of restriction. You won’t perform to the same quality as you’re actually able to, you’ll be less productive and you’ll become more accident prone.”
Conversely, Professor Hillman says “you’ll look better and be a nicer person” if you get enough sleep.
Consider us sold.
If you are concerned and have consistent trouble sleeping, consult your GP for a correct diagnosis.
Article originally posted on –>> bodyandsoul.com.au