How to Restructure Your Day for Better Sleep
Sleep is an essential part of the primal lifestyle and vital to a healthy transformation. We’ve all heard the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” and associate that with success, but that’s not actually the case. In fact, if clients have to choose between going to the gym or getting sleep, we suggest sleep first every single time. This means no 5am wake ups if you’re not getting to bed early, or your sleep isn’t restful. Can you believe it? A health coach telling you to skip your workout, and go to bed or sleep in? Yep, you’ve read that right.
While physical activity is important, it isn’t as helpful when our bodies are out of sorts between lack of sleep, stress, and processed or inflammatory foods. In fact, a lack of sleep also equals inflammation. Our bodies cannot recover, and we’re put in even more of a constant state of stress. We can fix this, though. There are many practices, habits, and concepts to implement for a better night’s sleep, many of which you’ve probably heard of. Cut caffeine after a certain time, sleep in a cool, dark room, and remove all distractions from your sleep environment- even your cell phone. Structuring your day to promote restful sleep is one of the best things you can do. Implement these three schedule shifts to help you get the sleep you need to not only function, but thrive.
Get moving in the morning sun
This is the first step to getting a good night’s sleep. Sounds crazy, right? Morning movement and sunshine tell our circadian rhythm that it’s time to wake up for the day. This helps us when it’s time to wind down at night, too. Our circadian rhythm is essential for regulating sleep, and according to sleep expert Shawn Stevenson, “a good night of sleep starts the moment we wake up.” If you don’t have access to sunlight, especially during colder seasons, waking up to a SAD light can also help.
Move frequently throughout the day
Our bodies expect movement, not just a hard core one hour cardio class. Moving frequently throughout the day allows our bodies to burn stored fat, keep our mitochondria youthful, and allows for more rest at night. Your daily workout can help, too, but what good is an hour long cardio session if ten other hours are spent sitting at a desk and on a couch? Break up your day with movement like short walks, taking the stairs, and doing some primal movements (PEMS), and your sleep will thank you when it’s time to sleep.
Start the wind-down process
Like great wake up signals, our bodies need some winding down signals, too. Try to expose yourself to the sunset or evening light. Eat dinner by candlelight, or read a book printed on paper (or a Kindle Paperwhite ) before bed. If you need to use the computer, phone, or watch a show, use blue light blocking glasses. Blue light, the light given off by the sun, is great for staying awake during the day, but can cause us to stay up late at night. Even though we’re not roasting our dinner over an open fire and going to bed when the sun goes down, our bodies are still wired for that. Making these changes in our high tech, fast paced lifestyle can help us wind down for the evening.
Check out my great podcast interview with the famous James Swanwick all about sleep hacks and the my interview with Sleep Doctor (Pat Byrne) on the impacts of insufficient sleep on performance. Here are some other great resources:
Also take a listen to Paleo View’s “Is Melatonin Safe?” episode where you’ll learn which supplements can help get you some z’s (sneak peek: take vitamin B6 & B9 early in the day and zinc folate in the evening). If you’re still having trouble, connect with your coach to troubleshoot your sleep or reach out to a functional doctor for more help.
Quality, restful sleep is one of our biggest goals for you and we’re here to help you thrive!
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