52 Healthy Habits: Create and Follow a Sleep Ritual

Welcome to the latest edition of 52 healthy habits when each week we tackle a new healthy habit together. 

Last week our healthy habit was mindful eating. This includes paying attention to hunger and fullness signals, eating slower and avoiding all distractions during meals. This was harder than I anticipated. I didn't even notice that it had become a habit for me to catch up on my Facebook feed in the morning while I shovel in my breakfast. After all, I don't have a lot of time in the morning. I was multi-tasking, but at what cost? While I was catching up on my "on this day" Facebook updates I was scarfing down my eggs, barely tasting them or even noticing that I was eating. I had developed this bad habit that I didn't even realize until I started to pay attention. 

It seems easy so I was surprised when I struggled last week. Sitting at the table in the morning without my phone felt weird and I felt oddly anxious. I tried counting my bites and setting the fork down between bites like we talked about last week. It sounds easy, it was harder than I thought. It is definitely something I need to continue to work on. But that's why we do this, right? Small improvements every week. 

I also want to mention that my caffeine reset from two weeks went well. I mean besides the misery that was the first five days, of course. I went two full weeks without coffee to reset my tolerance. I only intended to go for one week, but felt so great after those pesky headaches went away that I extended it for another week. After two weeks I am ready to reintroduce caffeine. I am looking forward to my Monday morning cup of coffee and i'm sure i'll feel its positive effects after just one cup. 

CREATE AND FOLLOW A SLEEP RITUAL

In our busy lifestyles we often glorify lack of sleep. Someone might even brag that they get by on five hours of sleep, but they are missing out on the fact that most of our body's recovery processes happens during sleep. If you are eating well, exercising, but not feeling great or seeing the results you desire, then lack of sleep may be to blame. Most adults should aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. If you are getting a lot less than that, start by adding just 30 minutes a night. 

We always seem to be looking for the magic bullet to achieve our health and fitness goals, trying new supplements, intense workout routines, macro manipulation and meal timing. While these things can be helpful as we work to meet our goals, we shouldn't be attempting advanced strategies until the basics are covered. Sleep is an important basic. Are you getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep?

ESTABLISH A ROUTINE

Try to get up in the morning and go to bed at the same time each night (yes, even on weekends) in order to establish a sleep routine. 

TURN OFF ELECTRONICS

60 minutes before bed turn off electronics in order to prepare your brain for sleep. Shut down Facebook, put away the blogs (yes, even this one) and say goodnight to your Instagram friends. Try to read a book or magazine to unwind for an easier transition to sleep.

AVOID CAFFEINE & ALCOHOL

Alcohol may help you fall asleep but it will disrupt that much needed deep sleep. Caffeine may cause you to have trouble falling asleep in the first place. Try to avoid caffeine eight hours before bed. 

LIMIT WATER INTAKE BEFORE BED

To avoid getting up in the middle of night to use the potty, avoid excess fluid intake before bed. 

SET UP YOUR ENVIRONMENT FOR DEEP SLEEP

Sleep in a cool dark room. I wear a sleep mask. 

I am as guilty as any, scrolling my iPad while watching TV to unwind before bed. While I usually sleep 7-8 hours per night, I am going to work on improving the quality of my sleep by creating and following a healthy sleep ritual.

Are you with me this week? What can you do to increase the number of hours of sleep or to improve the quality of your sleep. Your body will thank you. 

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Coach Lea

I am a NASM personal trainer and RRCA adult distance running coach that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training in the Shredshed, online training and Fit to Run bootcamps. If you are interested in a more in-depth running or strength training plan, please contact me. Have questions? I'd love to help. 

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While I am a certified personal trainer, I am not your personal trainer. Since I don't know your exercise abilities, injury background or medical history, please see your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. This is an opinion blog. No information in this blog is intended to be taken as medical advice or prescription. Please see your doctor and/or registered dietitian for any health concerns.