Work Hard, Rest Well


Sleep, just like anything else in life, probably won't ever be as perfect as we would like. With that being said, there's absolutely no reason any human being should blindly accept that it's just something that will always be a struggle. Sure, there might be circumstances that are beyond your control (weird hours at work, new baby, etc.), but there is also a lot we can do to control the quality of our resting hours.

While the subject can go as deeply specific and intricate as anything else that has to do with our bodies, there are some simple fixes that many of us would be better (and less sleepy!) for putting to work.

First, more isn't necessarily better. Similar to working out, blindly adding quantity to dysfunction isn't doing us any favors—8 hours of tossing and turning is doing little more for you than 6.

As far as improving quality goes, it's helpful to keep in mind that our bodies will shut down, recover, and sleep best when our environment—both before and after falling asleep—is as conducive to relaxing as possible.

Instead of racing around the house trying to get a million things done in the time before you crash, let that last hour be a chance to wind down from the day. Be done with the emails (give the phone/computer/tv a break—they can wait until tomorrow), cleaning, stressing and all else that fills our days for 60 minutes before your head hits the pillow and you'll have started your rest off much better than most! 

Here are a few of my favorite ways to fill this hour:

1. Read. You know that stack of books that you've been trying to chip away at? This is a perfect time to start.

2. Stretch! Ohhhh how you know you need it! Set a timer and work through 15 minutes of work on the muscles that feel most tight. Mobility WOD is a great resource if you're not sure where to begin.

3. Meditate. Headspace couldn't be easier to use, and you'll be surprised how quickly it becomes not-weird!

Remember that the idea in this time is to relax. What works perfectly for one person might not help the next in the same way, but don't be scared to give something new a shot. (Also, see it through for a few weeks—"when it's convenient" never offers enough change to see a real difference).

Go dark. Until you've slept in a room that is actually black, you might not even know what it means to sleep in a dark room. Room-darkening shades do a pretty good job of shutting out most of the ambient light from outside, but tin-foiling your windows will totally work in a pinch (kiiiiiiidding; don't do that). Put your phone on airplane mode so that little buggah isn't turning on all night, and shut off anything else that might be lighting up your room.

Go easy on the caffeine after noon! Stimulants stay in our systems way longer than just when their glorious buzz is apparent, so try to get your coffee fix taken care of before lunch.

Instead of aiming for the perfect night's sleep, see if you can start by simply improving where you're at. What if you implemented just one of these recommendations and it helped you sleep a little better? Wouldn't that be worth it?! Experiment, try new things, and—in any aspect of life—don't feel like you're destined to stay where you are right now just because the transition makes you step outside your comfort zone a bit!

Side note: Sleep couldn't be more important, and has a trickle-down effect into every aspect of our lives. If you're really struggling, talking with a doctor would be a wise use of your time.