Did you know…
‘The general who sleeps the most, wins the war.’
Before you cast me aside as a warmonger, I am sharing a quote I heard that didn’t make a lot of sense when I first heard it.
In our society today, that mentality is not freely discussed or used. In fact, most people subscribe to the ‘I can sleep when I’m dead’ mentality.
People seem to think sleeping less, working more and always being ‘available’ is the way to get to the top of the mountain. And while it is a way, it’s probably not the best. And the less you sleep, the faster you will get to death, I assure you that.
We value hard work and often at the expense of our own health. This always perplexed me, but, I wanted to ‘get ahead’ as well so I followed what I knew. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and if you aren’t climbing you are falling. At least, that’s what I was wired to believe.
Unfortunately for me, it took a lot of falling before I figured out how to climb.
I worked 18-20 hour days in the beginning of building my business on sleeping maybe 4-6 hours that weren’t really restful. Training clients in the morning, studying new practices in the afternoon or training my own body and learning marketing, website design and accounting in the evenings.
I thought I was doing what I was supposed to, sacrificing everything to build my future. I got by for awhile, even took some pretty awesome steps during that time. What I wasn’t doing was refilling my cup and taking a break, at all.
This way of living has 1 ending: Bad…
There was a study performed by an Australian company where they had half the employees continue working 40+ hours a week with the other half required to take 10% of their work week off, or at least 4 hours off.
The results: Those who were forced to take time off actually produced better work, more effectively and efficiently.
Did you get that?
They worked LESS and did MORE!?!?
Fast forward a few years into the business and I, as a person teaching human optimization, had to start listening to my own body for advice and it was screaming to recover.
I was moody and highly irritable after only a few hours awake and this continued to bleed into my life. I even pushed some really good friends away because I didn’t know how to balance everything and work seemed so much more important.
And so, I started a journey to learn how to work smarter and be more productive in less hours overall. I also started to learn more about how to engineer a better nights rest. Mind you, only after being advised by mentors in the field, that had made the same mistakes as I.
When people you admire and trust in your chosen field start talking about sleeping more and how much better there work has become, the ears perk up and I was finally able to ‘hear’ them.
You see, I didn’t realize that lack of sleep was effecting my productivity, my lack of imagination and my ability to process information. All things that are very important. I was putting my head down, ignoring my needs and figured all the ‘hard work’ would pay off.
I’ve listened to and attempted many strategies to sleep better, from top professionals and the following are the ones I personally have had the most success with.
There are others I will try and possibly update the list in the future but here are 7 Strategies to sleep better Tonight!
#1 – 8 hours is ideal, 9-10 is optimal, 7 is barely enough and Napping helps
Get 7 hours every night, AT THE VERY LEAST. However, more often it needs to be 8+ to be at our best and athletes, high stress financiers and the like require 9-10 hours to fully recover and re-charge.
#2 – Turn off electronics at least 30 minutes to an hour before bed and read a book instead.
TV off, Phone off, Kindle off, iPod off because they are over-stimulating your brain. And I guarantee that if you pick up a copy of the laws of your state or a dictionary and read them before bed, you’ll be asleep in 5 minutes or less!
#3 – Blackout Room and Eyes
Your sleep environment should be as dark as possible (think Bat Cave.) No LED lights from alarm clocks or electronics should be visible. Use Window Shades that Black Out the room and get a sleep mask that is comfortable for you. Make sure it doesn’t move all over the place during the night. Even if your eyes are closed, but not covered, then light can get in.
#4 – Room Temperature and ‘White Noise’
Make sure your room is at least 65-70 degrees. To cold or too warm and your body temperature cannot regulate and thus, you toss and turn instead of sleeping like a rock. I also prefer turning a fan on and listening to it whir as I fall asleep…it’s very relaxing.
#5 – Sleep Naked
This goes hand in hand with your room temperature. Sleeping naked allows your body temperature to regulate more naturally versus putting on extra clothes if you’re cold or sleeping with one appendage hanging out of the covers to act as a thermostat if you’re warm. BONUS: You may end up exciting your partner – a lot!!!
#6 – Well-rested tea from Trader Joe’s
My chiropractor recommended this to me a little while back and so I gave it a try. It worked very well for me. It has a good flavor and calming, relaxing vibe. Let the tea bag steep for 3-5 minutes. Sometimes you may need 2 tea bags. Drink 15-30 minutes before bed.
#7 – Zinc and Magnesium Supplementation (Note: Recommendation)
Most humans are deficient in Magnesium and Zinc. These minerals support so many of the body’s functions, including over 300 chemical reactions in the daily moving of our bodies. And especially if you exercise, there is a good chance you are deficient. Magnesium in particular has a very relaxing effect on the body and Zinc supports your nervous system, which is easily excitable and that’s not good for sleeping. I prefer Magnesium Threonate as it is the only form of Magnesium that crosses the brain/blood barrier and I prefer Zinc Gluconate or L-OptiZinc. Start with the smallest doses and adjust from there.
This is not an all-encompassing list and I have a feeling I will be adding more to it soon. And if there is something not on this list that has worked for you, please reply and share.
I wish you a restful night’s sleep, every night!
Last week I asked you what Strength means to you and I got some great feedback.
One said being able to swing a golf club without pain is strength to her. Another said juggling his work priorities without going off the deep end was strength. And yet another said being there for her kids when she is dog tired was strength to her.
Nobody said ‘Lifting weights is my definition of strength’ and I’m kind of happy about that.
No, Lifting weights is not the definition of strength.
Lifting weights helps you build physical strength, which can translate into mental strength and emotional strength simply by ‘overcoming’ the weight.
The more you train, the easier most everything in life becomes and the little things that eat away at your soul become less irritating.
Those that have worked with me are a testament to that and they themselves would tell you the same thing – Being physically strong helped them in other areas of their lives. (Click Here to see for yourself)
So it always boggles my mind when ‘something’ happens and the first thing people neglect is their training program.
I get all kinds of excuses like: ‘I don’t ‘feel’ like it today’ or ‘My friend needs me, so I won’t be in’ or ‘I woke up and I felt a little sore so I’m not coming in’ or ‘It’s snowing today so I’m going to take off.’
After statements like that, is it any wonder why Americans are weak, sniveling, pushovers (who are also probably obese and metabolically ill?)
If weather prevents you from coming in, you train at home. If a child is sick, you train when they sleep. If you’re taking your friend for a haircut, you train while you wait. If you’re a little bit sore, train different muscles.
You can always do something, even if it’s getting in your plank and holding multiple sets of 10 – 30 seconds. If you’re afraid of looking silly, then there is mental work to be done. Why do you care if someone thinks you look silly? Ask yourself why…and really find the answer.
And if you don’t train – please don’t complain, because nobody wants to hear it.
Strength has the ability to cure almost everything that ails you (including complaining.)
You don’t have to believe me, but be sure to get strong before you tell me it doesn’t.
I’ve been ‘weak’ in body and mind and I never felt more disconnected, whiny, or out of control.
And while I still do not listen to people complain about training instead of actually training, I can walk away without their complaining setting me off.
I laugh (in my head) and wish that person well, because it’s hell living in your head and constantly feeling like you have to defend ‘your way’ to others instead of just getting strong. But until you get out of your own way, nobody can help you.
Let someone help you, get out of your own way and re-claim what is rightfully yours – a body free from all ailments as far as practicable and a sense of inner peace knowing you are stronger than most.
What’s better than living life stronger?
Hopefully the subject of this post raised an eyebrow or 2 and got you thinking about strength, which is precisely what I was hoping for.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
My definition of Strength is: the ability to overcome.
Which can be applied to many things, including the questions above.
To have big muscles, you must overcome more and more resistance. To quit heroin, you must overcome addiction (and your own demons). To lift heavy weights, you must overcome fear. And to be yourself, you must overcome everyone else’s expectations of you.
That last one might be the toughest, however, we all have to overcome ‘stuff’ every day.
Do you listen to co-worker’s, even if they’re difficult and help them with projects? Do you have patience with your kids as they’re learning a new skill? Do you deal with the in-laws even though they aren’t your favorite people? Do you have patience with an elderly parent who is slowing down?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you’re stronger than you think.
If we get right down to it, your mind will fail before your body does and every time you overcome something, you’re telling your mind that you can do it.
No matter how small or inconsequential, little constant steps forward, add up to big monumental successes later.
And in Strength Training terms, every time you get a repetition, or add a little intensity, or up the challenge – you’re strengthening your mind and your resolve to overcome!
The more ‘stuff” you overcome, the more things become easier and tolerable to deal with – because you have the strength!!!
My answer to question #1 or my reason for living – is because I feel I still have much more to accomplish to reach my potential. Not in a vain way for myself, but rather, helping to build a strong community of people who want to be an asset to society and not a liability. I have a passion for physical culture, because it literally changed the trajectory of my life. The saying: ‘the strong survive’ is true. They also have more fun, more money, are more productive and have less; injuries, pain, worry, sickness and anxiety, overall.
Strength is a very important bio-marker as we age, meaning, without it, you are more likely to be at a higher risk of depression, injury, illness or worse. A big part of this is self-serving, I’ll admit, because I sure as hell do not want to pay (emergency service, insurance or whatever) for the lazy buttheads who sit on the couch all day and do nothing, living off the powers that be. I could make more money doing something else, but I will be in the trenches helping the cause, by teaching folks real world strength because I believe in it that much.
You can apply that answer to #2 and to #3. I get up to spread the word of strength and I do it for my community, because I see how much strong, compassionate people can positively make an impact. So for me, I want everyone to experience that. It’s what drives me to be up at 4:20 am every day, commute to my studio in the pitch dark and help others the way strength has helped me.
I only have this insight, because I had no purpose or reason why. I was in that dark place of depression, blaming others, doing nothing, being miserable and watching my life slip away. It took horrible tragedies for me to get on the right path and while I never wish that for you, you can certainly take something away from my experience.
The people who are not training for life or doing anything to better themselves for their future can certainly do it for someone elses benefit. Don’t want to care about yourself? Well, what about your child, or spouse, or parent, or neighbor or whomever – who may need motivation, inspiration or a reason why? There is somebody who is watching you, counting on you and they need you to step up. You give them every reason to live with purpose, instead of living afraid and hopeless.
Do you really want your kids to have to pick the ‘home’ you end up in? (be nice to them) Worse, do you really want the state to pick the home because you don’t have anyone around? I’m guessing, no. What about time with your grand-kids? Well, it would be quite a tragedy to miss out on the memories and experiences you could share with loved ones. How much fun can you really have if you are injured, sick, depressed and emotionally unavailable most of the time?
Think of it this way. If you don’t take care of yourself – someone else will. By making the choice to do nothing, you’ve made a choice. If you’re not strong, capable and energetic then you will be miserable and get left behind…. who wants that? Life is too short for misery.
On those shitty days where you don’t feel like training, go. If you’re not keeling over, have a fever or bed ridden, then think about your why and go (do something)! Seriously, know the difference between you really can’t go and you don’t ‘feel’ like it because your a little tight or tired. Life is tough. It requires movement because movement strengthens the body, keeps you sharp and nourishes your brain like food nourishes your body. Your body is the protector of your brain, where all those happy memories and habit loops reside, take care of it. It’s what makes us beautifully human. This takes conscious awareness, being in the moment and making strength and happiness a habit, not; a hoping and a wishing…
That’s how we get to the bottom of the bad habits and create positive long lasting habits. Finding your reason to get up, to keep going and live life with purpose. Making that the first thing your brain thinks about before you decide to flip someone off or skip a workout and scarf a whole box of donuts.
So again, please, what is your reason or purpose for living?
Taking care of yourself is vitally important for the future of those you care about, to ensure their safety down the road. If you don’t like something about your life, you can change it and if you can’t or won’t change it, then your complaints are moot. If you’re not going to do the work for change, you will not help society in any positive way. I hear living on an island can cure you of that.
Studies have shown that folks who feel as if they ‘have no purpose’ or ‘hope’ will die or get sick much more prematurely, than people who feel as if they ‘have something to accomplish’ or ‘a reason for living.’
Which brings me to a funny story I heard one time, or maybe a tale, but the point is relevant. (and I’m paraphrasing)
‘A man tells a woman that the apocalypse is near’
‘The world WILL end tomorrow’
The woman’s response was epic…