Are you a Sleeping Beauty or cursed with exhaustion?
My four-year-old son Ethan insists I theme each newsletter around a fairytale, so after Goldilocks here we go…
Sleep has become a bigger and bigger element of what we do as coaches. It’s so important across all aspects of wellness that we are now making it a cornerstone of our approach. We call sleep the “master switch”. Without optimal sleep it’s trickier to make healthy food choices, to lose weight, to think clearly, and it also affects the intensity with which you can workout. Importantly at this particular time, it’s a potent immune booster.
| Read more: Why is sleep so important for our health?
But what does optimal sleep actually look like? Dr Kirk Parsley, an ex Navy Seal, M.D. and author of one of my favourite sleep books Sleep To Win, suggests answering the following questions:
- Do you fall asleep reasonably quickly after hitting the sack, within 15 minutes or so? This is known as sleep latency.
- Is your sleep generally uninterrupted, or do you perceive it as such?
- Do you mostly keep to the same ‘go to bed’ and ‘wake up’ times, including the weekends? This helps to minimise the effects of “social jet lag”.
- Do you feel rested? This is the most important question to ask yourself before fiddling around with your sleep pattern. If you do all of the above and feel you have a good bedtime routine, yet still wake up feeling exhausted every day, this is a sign that something is wrong and your sleep isn’t restorative.
If you answered yes to all the above, go to the top of the class – well done! But if you didn’t, try these 6 sleep tips from Club 51’s very own Prince Charming:
1. Get some natural light in a morning
Try to get some exposure to natural daylight first thing in a morning. This should coincide with cortisol being raised and increasing alertness. We need enough blue exposure in the morning to help with optimal circadian rhythm, as well as the corresponding fall in hormones later in the day that triggers the cascade into restorative sleep. It can be difficult in built up urban areas and during the winter months to get enough exposure to bright light. Similarly, when working at home, don’t fall into the trap of getting out of bed and moving straight into the home office. Get outside for 15-20 minutes while you are having your morning coffee or breakfast. that first coffee of the day! This can be combined with our Flow meditation.
2. Stay energised with mini-activity breaks
It’s natural for most people to have more energy at the start of the day. Energy levels will start to drop as the day goes on, especially when working at home. To help with this, we’ve put together specific 2 minute mini-activity breaks that can be done on the hour. They are not enough to get a sweat going, but are just enough to to oxygenate the brain and improve blood flow, like a reset – we call them ReSpark.
3. Stick to a regular sleep routine
Try to set the same wake up time as much as possible, including weekends. Whilst experts believe that sleep cycles are 90 minutes, there are variations that can in fact be from 90-120 minutes. If you feel you aren’t sleeping optimally, I’d suggest working back in 90 minute blocks from wake up time. The theory is that 90 minutes is the time it takes to go through a complete sleep cycle, so interrupting this can disrupt your sleep.
For example, if your wake up time is 7am, your go to sleep time should be 10PM or 11.30PM (5 or 6 90 min cycles). As an individual you will need to find your own ‘sweet spot’ by experimenting. In this way, sometimes we find that actually reducing sleep improves quality and energy levels.
4. Try magnesium baths to promote relaxation
Consider your bedtime routine. I am a big fan of magnesium baths as a sleep aid. Magnesium bath flakes (or salts) are a highly concentrated form of magnesium supplementation which, when added to a bath, helps to promote relaxation and soothe tired and aching muscles. Magnesium can also be added to a foot bath, so combine it with reading a book or binge watching Netflix. Go for magnesium chloride flakes – Ancient Minerals, WestLab and Better You all make decent ones.
5. Consider using sleep technology
I occasionally recommend the use of sleep technology. I’m keen on the Oura ring and the Whoop Band, but technology is often unnecessary or a last case resort. The Oura ring allows me to monitor clients sleep without them stressing about it every day. If interested, Club 51 clients can get a better rate on Oura.
6. Limit exposure to blue light at night
For those of us that can’t do without late night screen time, Biohacking Collective make some cool light blocking shades in three levels. In an evening, the blue light that emits from our smartphones and TVs suppresses the natural production of melatonin – the hormone you need to feel sleepy – and plays havoc with your body’s circadian rhythms, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Bonus: Try Moshi Sleep with kids who have trouble sleeping
For kids who have trouble dropping off, we recommend Moshi Sleep. Mind Candy, the creators of this incredible sleeping app, have curated sweet, calming and cute bedtime stories proven to help kids fall asleep faster.