“The shorter your sleep, the shorter your lifespan”
- Matthew Walker
Nothing sets you up for a productive and enjoyable day like waking up feeling well rested and refreshed. Luckily, the fad of pulling all-nighters 6 nights a week to “get ahead” or “get an edge” is over. The science just doesn’t back up trading sleep for results long term. And sleep is now a powerful tool for people who want to work smarter, not just harder.
Sleep Is A Deep Clean For Your Brain
When we sleep our brains and bodies clean and replenish themselves. Sleep is the break our brains need to restock neurotransmitters and reinforce what we learned the previous day. We won’t go into the science here, because Matthew Walker has that covered in his book Why We Sleep, The New Science Of Sleep And Dreams. But if you have ever woken up after a great night’s sleep feeling amazing then you already know that proper sleep is good for you.
There is tons of advice available on how to get better sleep. Avoid blue light, don’t eat for 2 hours before to going to bed, keep your bedroom cold to fall asleep faster (but not so cold you can’t get comfortable), avoid alcohol before bed. All of this sleep hygiene stuff is probably true, and you would be wise to try what you can and see what works for you. But...
The Secret To Great Sleep
There is one thing, above all else, that will improve your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake feeling fresh and energetic - routine. Creating a regular sleep routine will transform how you sleep and how you wake up the next day. A regular sleep routine allows your body to get in sync with when you go to sleep and when you wake up, keeping everything in balance.
Before the days of late-night Netflix binges and 5am alarms on our phones we used to go to sleep when it got dark and cold, and wake up when it got light and warm again. This is what your body and brain want - regularity. And you can create it simply by getting into bed at the same time every night (even if you don’t fall asleep straight away), and waking up at the same time every morning.
Try it for 2 weeks and see how much better you sleep. You will get to sleep faster, sleep better, and wake feeling fresher than ever. Not to mention you’ll be calmer, less stressed, and less impulsive throughout the next day.
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
- Benjamin Franklin
Sleep Trackers, A Warning
Sleep trackers are all the rage right now, and measuring sleep is definitely a useful activity for some people. But remember your sleep tracker will only track surrogate outcomes like how much snoring you do, or if you roll over in the night, or when your heart rate peaked while you slept. The real measure of how well you sleep should be how you feel when you wake up. Everything else is secondary to this.
Be particularly cautious with alarms that will track your sleep pattern and wake you up at your lightest stage of sleep. If you follow your sleep routine and adjust it so you get the right amount of sleep for you (which could be anything from 7 hours to 9 hours a night), then you shouldn’t need a tracker to know how you’re doing. Go by how you feel.
Tools & Books For Better Sleep
Seriously, try this for 2 weeks and see what happens. Go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time every morning. This is the most effective sleep tool you have available.
Cider Vinegar And Honey Tea
Set yourself up for a great night by mixing two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of honey in boiling water. Add a caffeine-free fruit or chamomile tea if you choose. This one is courtesy of Tim Ferriss, author of The 4 Hour Body and host of The Tim Ferriss Podcast. Sounds disgusting. It isn’t. Try it and see what it does for your sleep.
Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker
For the science behind why we sleep and dream, and what happens inside us as we do, read this book.
“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep."
- Matthew Walker