Hi! Kris Stokes from Custom Fitness here, your Amarillo personal trainer. It’s time to get our sleep back. We have too many people complaining of being fatigued all the time and not knowing how to fix it. In fact, I get so many people that I talk to that are taking nightly sleep aides and daily energy drinks or pills to be able to make it through life. Life was never meant to be this way. It was meant to be enjoyable! We have a specific rhythm within our body that really needs to be met and needs to be balanced out but it gets disrupted so much from stress, from lack of sunlight, from lack of consistency in our schedules, and from medication. So I just want to give you a few tips today on how to improve your sleep.

Now this is the first part of a multi-part series here so hang with me as we get through these videos but I really wanted to help you today to create a pre-bed ritual or a pre-bed routine. It’s super important because just like if you brought home a newborn baby, they’re going to have indiscretions as to when they’re awake and when they’re not. Things are going to feel off, and the doctor will tell you first thing make a routine, set their schedule so they understand and their brain starts to see okay, this is the time to go to sleep. As adults, I think we kind of give up on that. We just say, “Well, we’re so busy. We’ve got the kid’s things, we’ve got our work, we’ve got this, that, and the other and we don’t have time to do the same thing everyday or we’re running at 90 to nothing until bedtime and then we drop and we can’t understand why it takes us two hours to go to sleep.”

Sleep/Wake Cycle

The first step, if it’s taking you more than 20 minutes to go to sleep you’re probably not in a good time to go to sleep, you need to get up, do something else, and then go to bed. If it’s taking you less than five minutes to fall asleep, you are exhausted and you need to kind of balance that out a little bit as well. Maybe calm down a little bit before bed so that you cannot be quite as exhausted because if you’re too tired you still don’t sleep very well. If you’re not tired, you can’t sleep at all, right? So, we have to look at this from different directions. Now, before we get too far into this, I also want you to understand that what I was talking about by our rhythms inside, that’s our circadian rhythm and that is our sleep/wake cycle, if you will.

We’re supposed to be asleep for a certain amount of time for our body to heal, regenerate and to be able to do the work that it needs to do when you’re not doing anything. It can’t do that work when you’re busy and moving around and stressed out and trying to take care of everybody else. It has to do that when you’re at a complete rest. Therefore, it needs that time. That’s part of our REM cycle. The other part to the circadian rhythm is that our body needs to be awake and energized at certain parts. I know a lot of times whenever I tell people hormones, they think just of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone but you know what? We have over 300 different hormones in our body. Two of them are melatonin and cortisol. Melatonin helps to control that sleep cycle so that we sleep more. Cortisol starts to help control our wake cycle. Cortisol’s also involved whenever we’re too stressed, it comes in to help combat physical symptoms of stress that happen internally which we’ve talked about before.

So, we have the circadian rhythm, it’s out of whack. What do we do? Well first, we start by trying to get our sleep back, right? We do that by making a few lifestyle changes. So as we go through these lifestyle changes, it becomes more habitual that our body is able and ready to sleep so that when we offer it, sleep it takes it. So number one is electronics. They’re huge. It doesn’t matter whether it’s something in your hand, whether it’s a book you’re reading on a digital device, whether it’s on the TV or the radio. Any of these electronics are putting off energy waves that are really just jacking your waves up. So we all have energy floating around us all the time and as those things are putting off waves, it messes with our brain, it messes with our energy, and it keeps us from being able to sleep.

Put The Electronics Down

So with electronics, we want to step away from all electronics 30 minutes or more before bed, just set them all aside, put them away from you. If you’re sleeping next to your electronics, move it to the bathroom at least, get it as far away from you as possible. Allow your body to reset naturally. So that’s the first step and it’s a hard one for some people but we do want to start working on that because our body was not meant to be around these types of energy waves all the time. Now if that TV is on in the background and you think, “Well, I’m not even paying attention to it. I’m over here grading papers or doing whatever I may be doing,” the thing is that your brain is still trying to pay attention to it. It’s paying attention here and it’s paying attention over there and it kind of revs it up, if you will.

It’s almost like being in Vegas at 4:00 in the morning, you feel like it’s in the middle of the day because the lights are on, the sounds are going, everybody’s there. So it tricks your brain and that keeps you awake longer too. All right. Now, the second step is to get to bed before your second wind. So, too many people tell me that they’re night owls. They say, “I don’t know why I stay up.” We go through their day, they’re not doing anything. They’re not wanting to stay up, it’s just, “I feel awake so I stay up.” Well, the problem is that they miss the window where they were tired. So maybe they got tired around 10:00, 10:30 and they thought, “Well, that’s great but I really want to watch this show,” so they watch the show and by 11:30 they’re wide awake again, they can’t go to sleep. So don’t miss that window, don’t miss that opportunity to go to sleep.

Brain Dumping

If you’re feeling your body feel tired, that’s your body saying that it needs to go to sleep, okay? I know that can be hard mentally for some of us who are okay staying awake later, but you really need that sleep at a certain time during the night in order to make your body work well. All right, so we want to make sure and do that. Now if you’re still having trouble sleeping, what we want to do is a brain dump or journaling before bed and we want to do that by hand. I know that you can probably type it faster than you can write it , but it gives you a chance to work on your handwriting skills, always a good thing, right? But what it’s doing is it’s taking those thoughts and putting them on paper so that way then they are solidified. When you hand write something, it tells the brain that you actually wrote it down. Your brain can say, “Okay, that’s down. I don’t have to think about it again,” and it can let it go.

But when you type it, research shows us that it does not send the same signal to your brain saying that you’ve written it down. So then you keep remembering it, thinking about it over and over again all night long and waking up tossing and turning. So if you will take the time to write something down by hand, it will help your brain to relax a little more. Now whether that’s just a journal of your day, great. If it’s a brain dump, what that is, is just taking every thought that’s possibly in your head and putting it on paper. It doesn’t matter whether it has anything to do with now, tomorrow, six weeks from now. It could be your taxes due in 2025 or something, it doesn’t matter. So just making sure that you have that written down because what that’s going to do is release your brain at the responsibility to hold all that information in while you sleep.

The Big Three

So that is kind of stepping you forward to better sleep. Now the bonus to that is during that brain dump, what I do to help me with my time management, is I write down the big three things I’m going to be working on the next day. I try and segment out my brain dump so that I have my big three that I’m working on. Some people call them their three rocks, some people just call them the big three, whatever it may be but three tasks is really doable during a day for me. Therefore, time management wise, that’s what I do is I build those out whenever I’m doing this brain dump at night. So the next thing to do would be to do something relaxing whether that is reading a book or it is cooking something up for tomorrow or it’s preparing meals for tomorrow, whatever it may be. Everybody has different things that they like to do.

But again, stay away from the electronics, find something relaxing to do. For some people, that might be something like walking or stretching, doing some yoga or walking around the block or whatever it may be. Those are great things to do too, anything that you can do to kind of wind down and prepare your body. Now the next step to all of this is taking whatever you’ve done that worked and making it consistent in your daily schedule so that you’re performing the same thing over and over and over again. It doesn’t mean that it has to be the exact same, but the same idea so that you’re getting your body ready for bed and you’re training it to build this new habit to accept bedtime better. In result, when you do sleep your body is able to rest and regenerate and renew so the next morning, hopefully, you feel a little more awake.

If you feel like you need some help with your sleep/wake cycle or with anything else in the health, fitness or nutrition realm, we’d be more than happy to talk with you! Feel free to give us a call 806-322-3188 and we’ll sit down and see if we’re the right fit for you.

Have a great day!