Whether you’re the super productive entrepreneur, constantly busy perfect employee, or all-night party-er, sleep still has a place in your life. You may not want it, but your body needs it.
You probably grew up hearing about how you need eight hours of sleep to be productive, but the truth is, the amount needed for maximum productivity actually varies by the individual, between 4-10 hours of sleep per night. Your body does all sorts of things from repairing tissues to restoring energy and hormone levels while you sleep. The thing is, a lot of us treat sleep like the homeless guy hanging around our subway stop. Maybe if you had money you’d give it to him. Maybe you wouldn’t. It also depends on whether your boss just yelled at you or if you just scored a sick deal on groupon. The point is, we rarely leave in the morning with the intent of providing that guy with some change towards his next mission. We seriously need to change the intent towards our sleep habits (and homeless people).
Like most things in life, great sleep can either happen by chance or when you plan for it. It’s kind of like going on a date–location is important, atmosphere needs to be right, and the activity is key. There are tons of factors that can determine the outcome.
Location– Operating under the assumption that sleep will take place in your bedroom, this is where we’ll set the tone. Your bedroom should be optimized for comfort. Comfortable pillows and linens, soft lighting options, and bedroom color are all things that contribute to a great sleep atmosphere.
Punctuality– Set a time to go to sleep, and don’t be late or wait for it to drift into your life. No one likes a tardy date. If you set a solid sleep time, then you can also designate a solid wake-up time (perhaps leaving some time for some early morning….workout!).
Meal Time– Try to eat your meals approximately two-three hours before your designated sleep time so you don’t have to worry about blood sugar spikes and initial digestive functions happening while you’re trying to settle in. The less going on in your mind and body, the easier it will be to cruise into slumberland.
Distractions– You wouldn’t to be text your life away or be busy watching other people when the potential human of your dreams is sitting directly across from you, so why would you do it when you’re trying to engage in some personal sleep time? Log out of your social networks, put your phone away, turn off your lights and your television. If you find your mind racing during this quiet period, it’s a great opportunity to meditate or focus on rhythmic bodily functions, like how you breathe or how your heart beats. It’s important to be mindful and enjoy the very act of falling asleep.
Follow Up– Hitting a home run on your first date only means it’s time to display some consistency in quality for the following dates. Now that you’ve accomplished purposeful, mindful, and quality sleep, continue with the habit, and hopefully you start to realize the positive impacts on your life.
Quickies- There’s a time and place for the full thing, but don’t skimp on quality just because you’re taking a nap. Bring the same sort of attentiveness and mindfulness to your much shorter rest periods so you can achieve quality rest for a quick boost at anytime if the day.
So 20somethings, if you want a lifelong positive relationship with sleep, put some planning and thought into it. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.