SuccessChef: 6 Steps to Healthy Sleep
In case you missed it, we previously discussed the importance of having a Morning Routine. The overall mental, spiritual, and physical benefits that an autogenetic morning routine supports are totally worth the initial hurdles of developing the habit.
Why have a routine at the bookends of your day? Because you’re worth it dammit!
Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. ~ M. Scott Peck
At some point in our lives, we will all be confronted with a period of restlessness. The reasons for this exhaustive stretch of time are innumerable — worry over finances (or lack thereof), mini bouts of depression, an excess of caffeine in our diet, unhealthy social habits, anxiety about an important meeting, frustration with the human sleeping next to you, and on, and on, and on. The lack of a peaceful night’s sleep can cause a “Kid-On-Christmas-Eve” type mania within your overall well being…only…without Santa’s gifts waiting at the other end.
Through some trial and error, I’ve developed my 6 Simple Steps to Peaceful Sleep.
My Evening Routine — The Recipe for Tranquility
Total Time: 35 minutes
- Living Room (at least an 8x8 open space area)
- Teapot & Favorite Tea (non-caffeinated)
- Empty Notebook/Journal
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 Lemon
Practical Advice for Peaceful Sleep
- Keep the room as dark as possible while sleeping. (unless you’re afraid of it)
- Maintaining a consistently cool room temperature helps your body get to REM sleep quicker.
- During the routine, remember to use your stronger mental focus from the Morning Routine meditation.
- No thought, both exciting and depressing, is worth losing a great night’s sleep over.
- Consistently try to be in bed by a specific time, giving yourself 1 hour before midnight at the very latest to climb into bed.
Step 1: Schedule a Nightly Alarm
Duration: < 1 minute
What You Need: Cellphone is ok here, but an alarm clock is better
Why: Develops the habit of recognizing when its time to start winding down from the day.
We should have two alarms, one to start the day and one to end it.
Set it and forget it: set the alarm once to recur consistently throughout the week. When certain evenings get away from you, having an alarm preset means you don’t have to remember when its time to wind down. Of course the time you determine can be different depending on the demands of your schedule, but the goal should be to be completed the 30 minute evening routine and in bed with at least an hour to spare before midnight (11pm latest).
I would like to point out that there is a myth floating around that 1 hour of sleep before midnight equals 2 hours after…I dunno where this specific statement originated, however it does hold some value.
The Centre for Integrated Research and Understanding of Sleep, or CIRUS, debunks this as a myth. HOWEVER, it s important to note the paragraph below which states:
…most deep sleep will occur in the first 1–3 cycles of sleep. More recent research shows that teenagers who experience delay in their sleep onset times (often from using electronic devices) are more likely to be sleep deprived, experience greater performance impairments, and have more difficulties with mood.
If a cycle of sleep takes approximately 90 minutes (70–100 minutes on average), than my original adjustment was to set a nightly alarm for anytime between 9–10pm. This will be different for your schedule depending on what time you wake up and how much sleep you need. In my example, my cat wakes me up between 6:30–7am every morning. At the worst case scenario, if I’m in consistently bed by latest 11pm, then I’m still getting my 7+ hours of rest — which is over 4 full sleep cycles.
In the event that my downstairs neighbor decides its completely normal to watch the battle scenes in Saving Private Ryan at volume level 9 billion around 3am on a Tuesday………this 11pm deadline ensures that I’m still getting at least 3 cycles of sleep.
Step 2: Turn Off the Push Notifications
Duration: < 1 minute
What You Need: any mobile devices that automatically notifies you
Why: You Already Know Why
Let me be very clear about this — there is a ZERO TOLERANCE policy with Step 2!
Now some of my friends reading this will finally understand why they can never get a hold of me after 10pm.
You just had about 16 hours to be as digitally social as you needed to be…and push notifications are anything at all that distracts your attention from what matters most.
In my personal example, I have a Samsung Galaxy s6 Edge phone — so I simply turn on “Ultra Power Saving Mode.” This basically turns your mobile computer into a grayscale looking MS-DOS mode. Not only does this drastically save my remaining battery life, but it also limits the device to just a few tools:
- Phone Calls
- Text Messages
- Clock & Alarms
- Emergency Alerts
- Oregon Trail (joke)
Perfect right? That way, in case of emergencies the phone is still functional…but I’m not getting constantly woken up with Facebook live updates, generic Linkedin sales messages, or midnight reminders about bills due that day.
As Mr. Gaffigan so elegantly stated:
For further instructions:
Here’s an article on how to turn off those pesky notifications
Step 3: Night Sauce — The Secret Weapon
Duration: 3 minutes
What You Need: Teapot, Favorite Decaffeinated Tea, Apple Cider Vinegar (optional), 1/2 Lemon (optional)
Why: Overnight detox, kick starts internal relaxation, peace of mind, clarity, natural sleep-aid
TeaHacking: For all you busy night owls in need of quicker tea making abilities — I sometimes use a Keurig to get my hot water. I don’t seem to like any of the tea flavored K-cup’s. They just don’t give me the same internal relaxation. Therefore, I just don’t use a K-cup and let the hot water run through into a mug with my favorite tea bag. Although this specific step in the evening routine isn’t meant to save time, you can utilize this simple hack for busy night that calls for a quick boil. (Tea purists will condemn me for this…)
Go organic whenever possible! Its easier to find a great organic brand that you can find anywhere — one of my favorite night caps is Tazo’s Organic Spicy Ginger
A Fantastic nightly sipper that I recently stole from Tim Ferriss includes:
SUGGESTION: In his video, Ferriss suggests that he uses “1 to 2 tablespoons” of Apple Cider Vinegar in his evening cocktail. Tim must be drinking more than a small 6oz cup of tea because I recently tried a ratio of 2 tablespoons ACV to 2 tablespoons of honey and damn near threw up! It’s too much ACV for my taste buds to handle in the evening, so I diluted that mixture with another 6 ounces of water and STILL the taste was frightening.
Here’s my Night Sauce ratio:
- 10 ounces Tea
- 1 teaspoon ACV
- 1 teaspoon Honey
Reason — too much honey or ACV will completely mess up the taste of the TEA which is the meat and potatoes of Step #3.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR SUBSTITUTE: For some of us, ACV is just downright putrid…trust me I get it. So if you’re not up for burning off your internal mucus membranes, then my suggestion is to slice ¼ to ½ lemon and squeeze the juice into the tea. Lemon helps the skin, blood, and organs to slowly detoxify. As an added bonus, lemon also aids in what is called “Lucid Dreaming.”
Lawd knows I’ve had some WILD dreams when OD’ing on hot lemon tea at night time!
My only caveat is to watch yourself when drinking lemon in hot water — as the acid can ruin the enamel on your teeth. Check out my man David Wolfe’s article HERE on how to curb this. He even suggests using Lemon Essential Oil instead of lemon juice. I have never tried this, but let me know your experiments!
– YOU’VE BEEN WARNED –
Once you consume the Tea, ACV, and Honey…you only have about a 30–45 minute window before you’re ass up and counting sheep! This is one main reason why my evening routine takes at most 30 minutes to complete…I literally can’t function after sippin’ the Secret Weapon.
Step 4: Keep a Journal
Duration: 10 minutes
What You Need: blank journal, pen
Where: in a cozy seat, NOT your bed
Why: Relieves mental fatigue, allows you to recall and assess the day, record keeping.
Don’t Trust Your Memory. ~ Jim Rohn
Jim Rohn’s philosophies changed my entire life.
This YouTube clip is from his tremendous seminar, “How to Have Your Best Year Ever” describes why he chose to keep a journal. I highly suggest taking 8 minutes to listen to this clip, or if you’re feeling ambitious, check out this 2 hour seminar he gave in 1981. Funny how Jim Rohn’s simple ideas he taught have not changed in over 35 years!
While drinking your tea — in a blank journal, where you will keep each day’s writings in the same place, write down:
- 3 things you accomplished today
- 3 things you will accomplish tomorrow
- 1 lesson you learned today
- Anything else that needs to be recorded in the story of your life!
If you get stumped — this “Accomplishment” list can include something as simple as “Made My Bed,” or, “Did my Evening Routine for the 5th day in a row.” This simple achievement recognition tricks your brain into appreciating every little feat. Always remember that you can only climb a mountain one carefully placed step at a time.
Always have something to look forward to! We are either growing or dying.
Parkinson’s Law — the longer you give yourself to complete a task, the longer it will take to actually complete it. This consistent practice of realizing what tasks aren’t finished will help your mind’s eye narrow the total completion time.
Step 5: Stretch
Duration: 12-17 minutes
What You Need: doorframe, wall
Where: living room or 8×8 open space
Why: Releases the physical tension built up from improper posture, a stationary lifestyle, and general unhealthy habits.
Reverse the daily cycle of poor posture.
For most of us Americans, our working culture ensures our first class ticket to this downward spiral:
- Our “sit” muscles become tense from a sedentary lifestyle.
- The lifestyle results in poor posture.
- Poor posture results in a serious lack of range of motion.
- Lack of range of motion results in decreased flexibility.
- Decrease in flexibility results in a sedentary lifestyle.
Then We Wake up and Repeat.
Here’s my nightly stretching routine that helps my quality of sleep:
Split leg hip flexor stretch (30 seconds each leg x 2 sets) — 2 mins
Ankle sit to Kneel (15 seconds sit / 15 seconds kneel x 2 sets) — 2 mins
Seated Butt Stretch (1 minute each cheek) — 2 mins
Wide split legs sitting toe touches (1 min each leg) — 2 mins
Bent Leg Side Bends (30 seconds each leg) — 1 min
Single arm palm up wall stretch (1 min each arm) — 2 mins
*Note: slowly move torso away from wall
Pectoral Release Door Frame Stretch — (20 seconds an arm with 10 seconds rest for 2 sets per arm) 2 mins
*Note: During the stretch I slowly adjust my head in different positions to feel a deep neck muscle stretch
OPTIONAL: Simple Forearm Stretches — (2 mins each forearm, see video here) 4 mins
*Note: You can use a wall or door frame to get a more intense stretch.
Step 6: Gratitude
Duration: 5 minutes
What You Need: A Heart
Where: In your bed, lights out!
Why: Aligns your Heart & Mind together electrically and energetically, gives perspective on how valuable your life is, ends the day on a loving note, scrubs away negative thinking habits.
Your life is defined by the stories you tell yourself. ~ Anthony Robbins
Laying in bed with eyes closed, place your hands over your heart and imagine what you are most grateful for. Really FEEL the joyous and happy emotions of being grateful for these people, things, lessons, etc that make you a Human Being.
Physically, aligning your heart and mind with gratitude will release dopamine, serotonin, and create an internal positive feedback loop. The feedback loop will start to show up in other areas of your amazing life — the butterfly effect. For a great article on this topic, check out TheWeek.com’s article on the Most Important Question to Ask When You’re Feeling Down.
TOTAL TIME = 35 minutes
Remember, while this evening routine works best for me, it took some time to adjust to (as will the routine you adopt). Being prepared for your tomorrows requires you to be consistent the night before. Take what you will from the Morning & Evening practices I implement, and let me know your thoughts