The idea of going to bed for a good night’s sleep for some people brings great joy, and for others it brings stress, anxiety and fear. If it brings you joy, and you get a quality 7-8 hours of sleep each night, then enjoy the wonderful rewards great sleep brings. If you are one of the people for whom sleep may seem elusive at times or on a regular basis, then this blog is for you. I want to help you reposition sleep, take the pressure off it and suggest that it is simply a reward for what you have done during your day.
I wanted to write a blog on sleep to follow up from my podcast this week with Dr Lillian Nejad, called, ‘Sleep, beautiful sleep,’ because I think it’s a critical part of living your best life. We all know the obvious horrible effects of little or no sleep, don’t we? It impacts our energy, our moods, our ability to focus, our relationships, our resilience, our wellbeing, our body’s ability to function and pretty much every important area of our life.
After some research, I found fifteen incredible benefits of getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis. They include; reducing stress, improving memory, lowering blood pressure, helping your body fight back, weight control, putting you in a better mood, reducing chance of diabetes, keeping your heart healthy, can be a painkiller, can make you smarter, helping fight germs, improving energy levels, improving athletic achievement, better concentration and improving gut health. Wow, I am sold on sleep.
Sometimes telling people the benefits of good sleep can have the reverse effect, because they are frustrated as they don’t feel like they will ever get to enjoy them. There is one person I know really well, and that person is me. In fact, I know me even better now after 2020 and many months of lockdown and isolation… an amazing blessing very heavily disguised. One thing about me is, I love my bed, and I sleep well. For me, when I get into bed, I feel safe, I feel calm, I feel relaxed and I feel ready for sleep. For me, going to bed and to sleep is my reward for the day I have just experienced, and the things I did during that day.
There are so many ideas about getting better sleep – and Dr Lillian goes into many of them in her podcast – from letting go of stress, to meditation, to reducing stimulants, to making sure the room environment is conducive, and many others. All are great, but I want to focus on just one idea, which is, I believe, sleep is the product and reward for doing the right things during the day. I will describe a typical day of mine, and that might explain what I am talking about. Please note, I am not telling you this stuff to try and impress you, rather to impress upon you what works for me, and I know will work for you also.
I get up between 5 and 5:15am each day, with a passion and purpose for the day ahead, and the first thing I do is exercise, whether I feel like it or not. I always feel amazing afterwards. From the time I finish training and up until about 10am I have; walked the dog, done my affirmations and goals, responded to emails, sent out connections and messages on Linked In, checked in with my mentor, done some writing on my next book, edited my next podcast, made phone calls and set up meetings. This is now my normal morning routine and I love it. The rest of the day is a little flexible, but includes some or all of; meetings (online or face-face), podcast interviews, presentations (online or face-face), walking my dog, meditation or a power-nap, eating yummy and healthy food and many other amazing things.
I get most of the productive and important stuff done by 4 or 5pm, and whilst I will often have evening meetings, I have had a day I am proud of and it’s still quite early. This means I can reward myself. A nice dinner, a bit of chill out time and then into my favourite place in the world… bed!
I am in bed early and 10pm is late for me. When I go to bed, I rejoice. I have done what needs to be done for the day, I have moved myself closer to fulfilling my purpose and I have made notes for what I didn’t finish but needs to get done the next day. It’s still early enough so that I can easily get my 7-8 hours of sleep and I smile to myself, as I snuggle in my wonderful bed and, feeling totally fulfilled (most days), drift off into restful and renewing sleep. It is my reward for what I have achieved that day. Bed is the prize for me and, if you struggle with sleep, I want to encourage you to look at bed and sleep the same way.
All you have to do is this; focus on your purpose, set your intention and make a list of what you want to get done during the day. Keep it manageable and achievable so it doesn’t overwhelm you. Then simply get to work completing tasks, ticking boxes and feeling great. Beware of the many distractions that may steal your attention and time away from these tasks and push completing them to later in the day or evening. Save the distractions until the important jobs are done and then enjoy them as a reward. Most of all, when you have done what needs to be done, and delegated your tasks for the next day, get in your bed and smile as the next 7-8 hours of blissful and rejuvenating sleep you are about to enjoy is a reward you have rightly earned.