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  • Adriano dos Santos

Create and use a sleep ritual

Today, and for the next 2 weeks, let's focus on building a sleep ritual. Why is that? Sleep is a wonderful thing. It makes us feel good. Helps us recover. And helps us get leaner, healthier, and stronger.

3 important facts about sleep

  1. You need good sleep for a healthy, strong, lean and fit body.

  2. Most of the time, good sleep doesn’t just magically happen.

  3. You can usually get better sleep ... if you make it a priority and build good sleep habits.

Most of us can’t go from 0 to 100 — in other words, from deep sleep to super-energized first thing in the morning.

Yet we often try to go from 100 to 0: We immediately try to fall asleep after being amped up and over-stimulated by a busy day and lots of activities.

Your secret weapon for snoozing: A sleep ritual

A sleep ritual is a set of behaviors that helps you make this transition between being awake and being asleep.

These behaviors tell your brain: Hey, it’s time to calm down now. Stop thinking about that to-do list, and focus on shut-eye.

This is especially important because you can't control exactly how much sleep you actually get.Or how well you actually sleep.

This is especially true if you’re dealing with stuff like small children, sleep apnea, shift work, or other things that can keep you awake despite your best intentions.

But you can control your sleep behaviors (such as a sleep ritual). If you genuinely tried your best to create and use a sleep ritual, then — regardless of how well or long you actually slept — tick off your habit.


What to do today

  1. Look at good sleep as an outcome of sleep-promoting behaviors. High-quality sleep doesn't just happen accidentally. You have to make it happen by building solid sleep habits.

  2. Do a sleep ritual tonight. (See further tips below) Starting 30–60 minutes before bedtime, try our basic sleep ritual to wind down. (If you only have 10–15 minutes, no problem. That’s still more than zero.)

  3. Try to do just a little bit better. Start small. Right now, don't worry about exactly how much you sleep, or finding the “perfect” set of pre-bed behaviors. Just work on making better sleep more possible.

  4. Set an alarm . . . to go to sleep. This habit will require some prep, so set a reminder to go off 2 hours before your scheduled bedtime. By 1 hour before bed, you should be moving in that direction.

  5. Update your daily progress log . . . tomorrow. Sleep ritual tonight means ticking off your habit tomorrow. And hopefully, a better morning.


Tonight's sleep ritual

Here's a starter sleep ritual to get you rolling on your new habit.

Tonight, 30 to 60 minutes before your planned bedtime:

  1. Turn off all electronics (TV, computer, cell phone, etc.). Put that phone away somewhere if you think you'll be tempted to check it "one last time".

  2. Lower the lights a bit. Dim light tells your brain it’s time for bed.

  3. Do a "brain dump". Pull out a piece of paper and write down all the things you need to do tomorrow. If you like, add anything else you're worried about, or that's on your mind. Set it aside. Now it's the paper's problem.

  4. Do something that actively calms your mind. For instance:

    • Listen to relaxing music.

    • Read some fiction (or read your kids a quiet bedtime story).

    • Pet your dog or cat.

    • Meditate. (We like the Headspace app.)

    • Have a warm bath.

    • Etc.

Decide what will chill you out and “gear down” your brain, and do it. (But remember: NO electronics!)

Even if you can only do 10 minutes of purposeful chilling-out before bed, 10 is more than 0. And a great place to start.

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