Imagine this situation: You’re bright-eyed, energetic, and happy. Today you’re looking and feeling good. You’ve got the attitude, “Today is my day! I can do anything! Bring it on world, I’m ready.” Go get ‘em tiger!
Now imagine this situation: You had to drag yourself out of bed this morning, you’re tired, cranky, irritable, and feeling less than your best. It feels like everything is hard today! Your attitude is more like, “I just want to skip today. Why does everything bad always happen to me? What next?” Now, recall your last week and ask yourself this – which situation more closely matches your average day? I hope you can say the happy-go-lucky one, but if you can’t, then definitely don’t stop reading now! Let’s solve your “bad-day syndrome” once and for all.
You may be surprised to find out that a “bad-day” actually has more to do with night than it has to do with day. How can this be? In a word: sleep; or lack thereof. Americans are sleeping less than ever.
A 2005 National Sleep Foundation poll found that Americans averaged 6.9 hours of sleep per night, which represents a drop of about two hours per night since the 19th century. (Newsweek) Yet, science still holds that 8-10 hours is the ideal amount of sleep for adults to feel fully rested and function at their best. That’s the bad news. The worse news? A test conducted by the University of Chicago discovered that subjects that continuously slept less than 6 hours per night were as impaired as subjects who had been awake continuously for 48 hours. However, when the sleep deprived subjects were polled they did not report “sleepiness,” and they thought they were not being affected by their lack of sleep. So even if you don’t notice like in the situation described at the beginning of this article; you’re still being affected! I think it’s time we take “shut eye” into serious consideration. I know good habits aren’t formed overnight, but try these few tweaks to help you get more shut eye on a regular basis. The three W’s to better Zzz’s are:
1) Wake up at the same time – Every day. Your internal clock is an amazing thing, if you consistently go to bed and wake up at the same time your body will start getting itself ready to fall asleep at the proper time, making your sleep quality better so you’ll wake up feeling more rested and ready for the day. Try to keep your weekend wake-up time within 30 minutes of your regular wake-up time.
2) Wind Down – If you find yourself tossing and turning before you can fall sleep, you likely aren’t winding down properly. Your body can’t fall sleep directly after a mentally or physically taxing activity due to the high stress; your brain just isn’t ready! Try setting aside the 30 minutes before bedtime to do a relaxing activity like reading, taking a bath, journaling, drinking tea, or talking to a friend. TV may be one of your favorite pastimes, but avoid it directly before sleep; the light prevents your brain from releasing melatonin and serotonin, the “sleepy” hormones. Find a before-bed routine that works for you and do it consistently.
3) Workout - You may not be surprised to find this one on my list, but exercise should be on your sleep checklist too: studies show that exercise- even if only at a moderate pace for 30 minutes- dramatically increases your body’s ability to fall asleep, and improves your sleep quality. Ideally, exercise should be performed in the morning so you’re be energized at the start of your day, not the end. The bottom line: You can sweat your way to sweet dreams. Win, win. I’ll see you at the gym!