I’ve made a huge effort to get the best sleep possible this season. I tried to eliminate coffee for several weeks but found it produced no change in sleep quality or score. I was still waking up multiple times a night. I had heard the popular 3-2-1 combo that’s been advertised by many and I’ve been using it for a few months, with some slight variations. I think I have found what produces the highest quality sleep for me and hopefully you! Give it a try and let me know if it works for you.
Sleep hygiene all starts as soon as you wake up. How active are you throughout the day? How late are you drinking coffee? I’ve made an effort to stop drinking coffee by noon. I’ve also made sure that I am constantly moving. Even with a desk job I use a walking desk or take mini breaks and do some push-ups. You want to be tired when your head hits the pillow. Sleep is critical to training because it’s the only time that our body recovers from hard efforts.
The ultimate routine to get the best sleep
3 – hours before bed – NO Hard workouts, eating, drinking, or alcohol.
This should be obvious, but you would be surprised how often you might drink too much water, or grab a little snack before bedtime. I noticed that if I ate or drank anything it affected my sleep quality. If you touch alcohol kiss your sleep score goodbye.
2 – hours before bed – no screens, intense mental stimulation, or TV.
Blue light from screens affects our sleep because it can interfere with our circadian rhythm, which is our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. The circadian rhythm is influenced by external cues, especially light, which helps to regulate the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.
This is going to be tough for a lot of people, but I am in bed and normally asleep by 9:30. I focus more on the workout that’s going to happen the next day with my clothes laid out and ready to go. It will set the tone for the entire day. Reading a book starts to put me to sleep and winds down my mind.
1 – hour before bed – Find a dark room and practice EASY meditation.
The lights should be low, you should use the bathroom in the last hour, and you should try the EASY meditation to clear all the crazy thoughts going through your mind. This prepares the sympathetic nervous system to RELAX so it can stay asleep. I’ve outlined the “EASY” meditation method that takes a max of 20 minutes to practice sitting in a chair.
Bliss More Easy Meditation Practice by Light Watkins
1. Always sit comfortably. Find a sofa, chair, car seat, airplane seat, bus seat, church pew, or anywhere you can sit comfortably with your back supported. Ideally, this should also be a place where you’re not going to be physically disturbed while meditating.
2. Use an easy-to-see timing device. If you’re using your phone, it’s best to use a digital clock application with an LCD, as opposed to a timer. Make sure you can see it clearly. You may also use a watch as long as you don’t have to squint in order to see the time.
3. Calculate your finish time beforehand. Meditate no more than twenty minutes. Calculate your finish time at the beginning so you don’t have to do the math during your meditation.
4. Relax first, then ease into your Settling Sound. After closing your eyes and before starting your Settling Sound, relax your entire body, beginning in your toes, and working your way up toward your head. Then start thinking your Settling Sound passively.
5. Stay passive with your Settling Sound. From your physically relaxed state, begin thinking “ahhhhhh-huuuummm”very passively. Don’t be surprised if your Settling Sound naturally disappears after you’ve been passively thinking it for a few minutes. Expect your mind to begin roaming through random thoughts, and/ or dreams as your mind begins settling. You may also fall asleep.
6. Enjoy getting lost. Correct practice involves frequently losing track of your Settling Sound, and even forgetting that you’re meditating for much of the time. Whenever you realize that it happened, celebrate it (as opposed to feeling regret), and begin passively thinking your Settling Sound again.
7. Stay easy when you realize you’re meditating. Remember, there’s no time limit between realizing your mind has been roaming (or you drifted off to sleep, or had a settled-mind experience) and passively returning to your Settling Sound.
8. Peek freely and often at the time. You may frequently have the thought “I wonder how long I’ve been meditating.”Each time you have thought about the time, quickly peek at your clock or watch and verify how much time has passed, even if you’re using a soft alarm. It’s better to satisfy your curiosity if you’re thinking about the time. After glancing, you may calculate that you have five or three minutes remaining, or you may see that you’ve accidentally overmeditated.
9. Wait a bit before opening your eyes. When you’ve reached the end, or accidentally surpassed your finish time, keep your eyes closed and continue sitting for another minute or two. Now that meditation is over, there’s no need to continue thinking your Settling Sound. Just say to yourself, “Meditation’s finished,”and continue sitting for a few minutes. Use this time to make a mental appointment with yourself for your next meditation or to just rest.
10. Always come out slowly at the end. Peek at the clock, and after you verify that at least two minutes have passed, close your eyes, take a beat, and then open them slowly. You’re done.
JUMP IN BED! You should be tired, and hopefully, you get the best sleep of your life!
Try this routine for 30 days and let me know your results! It’s made a huge difference in my sleep quality. I wake up refreshed, ready to work out, and feeling great. This is how you avoid injury and get in MORE miles to make you a better runner/ultrarunner. This is no replacement for great sleep and you need to realize what habits or routines you have that might no longer serve you.