The Road to Better Sleep Begins the Moment You Wake Up -

The Road to Better Sleep Begins the Moment You Wake Up

 The Road to Better Sleep Begins the Moment You Wake Up

Not too long ago, missing sleep was something that was okay to brag about. Rise and grind, right? We’d feel guilty if we skipped a workout or some late-night emails, but not if we cut short our rest. Which is wild, because sleep is like a natural performance-enhancing drug. Your workouts and emails—and meetings, lunches, and dates—are all tasks performed better when you’re well rested. Luckily people are starting to get the concept. Not sleeping enough is like the new smoking: It just isn’t cool anymore.

There’s so much we don’t understand about sleep. (Ask five researchers exactly why we need it every night and you’ll get five different answers.) But the thing we know for sure is that it’s vital. You can go weeks without food, but sleep deprivation starts messing up your body almost immediately. Virtually all animals have cycles of rest connected in some way to the 24-hour rhythm of sunrise and sunset—we’re the only species that tries to get around this.

People need different amounts of sleep. Eight hours is still a decent rule of thumb, but there’s a simpler test: If you’re drowsy during the day, you probably need more. Getting more rest is so much bigger than not feeling a little tired, though. Scientific studies indicate that if you’re sleeping well, your immune system will work better. You’ll think more clearly. You’ll get more out of each workout. Your metabolism will function more efficiently—your blood sugar level will be more stable. Your reaction times will be sharper. What’s more, not getting enough sleep has been linked to basically every malady besides bunions: cancer, diabetes, gout, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, obesity, and poor mental health.

Pants, $2,200, by Prada. His own watch by Apple x Nike. Jewelry (throughout), his own.

So get this: I’d rather you skip or shorten a workout than compromise sleep. In fact, I’m going to encourage you to think about your sleep like a workout, something you can approach with rigor and intention. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be a chore. It can be a grind to get through a hard workout. But settling in for the night? This is about getting relaxed and comfortable! It should be something you look forward to. But it starts with accepting a tough truth: There are no shortcuts. In a culture where we love optimization and efficiency, you can’t “hack” sleep. No pill is going to turn six hours into eight—you’ve got to figure out how to commit the time.

However, there are ways to enhance your rest. Sleep “hygiene” has become a buzzword, but it’s a good way to think about it. We all do those baseline things that we learned as toddlers—washing our hands, brushing our teeth—to protect our health. The habits that help your sleep are that elemental. You should avoid eating or drinking alcohol too close to bed. Try to settle in at about the same time every night. One of the best things you can do is condition your brain to prepare for sleep by having a nighttime dial-down routine: It could be drinking a mug of mint tea, spraying a scent, or doing some light stretching. Whatever it is, do it every night so it signals to your brain that it’s time to turn in. Remember Pavlov’s dog from college psych? Well, you’re the dog.

Add Comment