PILLAR #1 - SLEEP
How often do you wake up, full of energy and ready to tackle the day ahead?
Once a week? Twice a week? ...Never?
If you were how I was a number of years back, the answer was probably not very often. I still have these days today, but now I know why and how to correct them.
Sleep is critical to basically every single function that our body performs. Think of it as the master control switch to how everything will perform in your body. If it's not functioning properly, nothing will.
Here's a quick list of everything that gets impacted by poor sleep quality:
- All of the cells in our body and how well they function
- All of our internal hormones in our body
- Our bodies ability to fight off infection, bacteria and repair damaged cells
- How effective our body is at burning fat (or storing it)
- Muscle growth
- Negative impacts to your mood and increase in anxiety, stress and depression
- Cognitive slow down, your brains ability to process information, problem solve and connect neural pathways
You think something so important we would treat with the utmost respect, but as humans we are TERRIBLE at abusing our sleep quality.
Not getting proper sleep, is like only being able to fill up your car with fuel to the halfway point each time. So many people are going through life with their tanks only half charged.
There is a reason why this is Pillar #1 in building a productive lifestyle that is not only powerful, but also sustainable. Without this, the rest of the pillars after this one will not be nearly as impactful.
Now I have days where I do not get a great sleep. We all have the occasional party, bachelor party, wedding or event we go to where we won't be able to follow this.
The idea should be to follow this 90% of the time though if we really want to make a dramatic impact.
Getting into a flow of powerful sleep habits is a game changer.
SOCIETIES ATTITUDE TOWARD SLEEP
There is an unfortunate mindset and pressure from society today when it comes to working and getting ahead. I see it in a lot of young entrepreneurs. It is the mindset that not sleeping and staying up all night working is some type of necessary badge of honor or ingredient to be successful.
Hard work, extreme persistence, perseverance and hustle are all necessary ingredients, but sacrificing your sleep isn't going to make you more productive.
In the long run, it will kill your energy, productivity and shorten your life. It’s not a sustainable tactic to work until 2am each night then wake up the next morning and do it all again. You may get more done in the short term but you are simply just borrowing from your time in the future.
The objective is to create powerful focus and productivity each day so you don’t need the extra hours to get it all done.
Very few people are as productive as they could be during their working hours. Maximizing this time for productivity requires us to be well rested and energized.
Lack of sleep costs the US $411 Billion in lost productivity and 1.2 million working days per year.
If we want to truly create a more powerfully productive, charged and fit life we need to know how to sleep properly. This also guarantees us an advantage over those who don't. Let’s get into it.
Side note – if you’re a fitness freak like me, and our struggling to get results, take a good hard look at your sleep patterns. Following the tactics below will not only help you get more productive, you will see a ton of other benefits to your fitness and weight loss journeys as well.
TACTICS TO UPGRADE YOUR SLEEP
HOW TO CALM YOUR MIND BEFORE BED
This was a question that came up a few times when I was building this course so I wanted to make sure I included it. Doing this will make the tactics below much easier on you so it's a good place to start.
A lot of people have good intentions about wanting to get to bed earlier but they find themselves restless so they wonder what's the point of even trying.
Here's two very simple techniques to calm your mind before bed.
FIRST, DO A MIND DUMP
If you have a million thoughts buzzing around in your head, try this incredibly effective technique.
Grab a piece of paper or notebook and just write everything down. Everything you need to do, every idea, or anything at all.
This simple act of taking everything in your head and putting it down on paper has an incredibly calming and relieving effect.
You lose the fear that you may forget something and your mind becomes more at piece.
You can then take all these ideas and then start piecing them into your overall goal and task list if they fit. (More on this in Pillar 5).
SECOND, SIMPLY DO LESS IN THE EVENING.
Dim the lights, don't check email, don't keep working on your laptop and don't go for a crazy heart pumping workout at 10pm.
Your body is trying to prepare you to go to sleep, so don't fight it. After 9PM, try to live like it's 1850. Grab a book and just relax under some dim lights. Journal about your day and what you are thankful for so you go to bed with a positive mindset. (I highly recommend The 5 Minute Journal).
Try Delta Waves:
Another trick to put your mind in a relaxed state is to use sound to influence and calm your brain frequency.
If you've heard of Binaural Beats, this is what I am referring too. If you haven't, here's the 30 second explanation.
Sound operates in frequencies and so do your brain waves. Your brain waves operate at different frequencies based on what's going on around you. These can be waves for focus, excitement, fear, calmness etc.
By introducing certain sounds, we can get our brain to a calmer state (great for sleep) or for productivity (which we will dive in Pillar 5).
Delta waves specifically, operate at a frequency that puts your brain in a calm and relaxed state, perfect for going to sleep.
If you find yourself restless, download this below and try it out. It's an underlying constant delta wave frequency interlaced with some relaxing music to calm you down. I use this occasionally when I'm a little too fired up around bed time...
FOLLOW THE CIRCADIAN RHYTHM
As humans, we are meant to sleep after the sun goes down and wake when it rises. There are a whole host of hormones in your body that also follow and rely on this cycle. It's not unique to us either, pretty much every animal and living thing on the planet (including trees) rely on this reliable cycle of the sun setting and then rising again.
We’ve been following this pattern for thousands of years, it is only recently with modern light and electronics that we have started to stray. The natural cycle of sleeping when the sun goes down and waking when it rises is called the circadian rhythm.
Getting into the habit of heading to bed by 10:30PM almost every night is one of the best things I’ve ever done for feeling good and improving my energy. This is the time of night where everything just starts to "click" if you can consistently switch your body and mind off at this time.
We can also use sunlight in the morning to help reset our internal clocks. Exposure to sun in the morning will trigger daytime hormones and this will actually make it easier for our body to know when to activate the night time hormones as well.
The spectrum of light that the sun emits represents the best source of light for our bodies to absorb.
Each morning, make an effort to exposure your body to natural light from the sun for at least 15 minutes.
I used to be a night owl and a late riser. I was never a morning person and never thought I could be.
I’ve now turned this totally around... I LOVE being an early riser now. When you start your day full of energy by 7am you can simply just get more done then those who don't.
Now there will of course be nights where you go to sleep later but try to aim to hit this 10:30PM target 90% of the time.
The beauty of consistently going to bed at the same time each day means you will also begin to consistently wake up at the same time each day. I naturally tend to rise at 6:00am if I'm lights out by 10:30. No more stressful, loud and annoying alarm cock needed.
LIMIT EXPOSURE TO SCREENS BEFORE BED
As we keep exposing the light receptors in our eyes to artificial lights through TV, mobile phones and tablets, the hormones in our body interpret that as "the sun is still shining" and keep producing daytime hormones.
The light receptors in our eyes are particular sensitive to blue lights which just so happen to be the strongest on all these screens we look at and led lights that light up our homes and offices. During the day it's less of a problem, however as the sun goes down the intake of these lights suppresses the production of melatonin and our bodies can't properly prepare for sleep.
Is it possible our bodies will adapt to this overabundance of artificial light in the world now? Probably... but this tends to take thousands of years and we've only had electricity for around 140 years. We are not quite there yet.
The best thing to do to reduce this effect is to limit exposure to these types of lights a couple hours before bed. Personally, I find reading a book for an hour before bed under a low, red spectrum light works incredibly well.
If you do need to view screens, wear blue light glasses or try a few of the tools listed below which reduce the blue light on our phone and computer screens.
This also includes any LED or blinking lights in your bedroom. These have all been researched to still be absorbed by the body, so if you can move all these outside your bedroom. Your bedroom should be for two things only, sleeping and I think you know what the other is...
TOOLS TO UPGRADE YOUR SLEEP
YOUR ACTION STEPS
- Do you take your sleep seriously? If you want to be your most productive for the long term you need too.
- Use the techniques to calm your mind before bed by reading, journaling and trying delta waves.
- Follow the circadian rhythm as close as possible. Try not to use electronics within a couple hours of your bed time. If you do, use the Tools mentioned (blue light glasses and filters) to reduce the harm on your hormones.
PILLAR 2 - How to Optimize Nutrition for Productivity
Food impacts more than just your waistline. How we feed our bodies has a dramatic impact on our ability to get things done. The next pillar will dive into why, how and what to eat to boost your mental performance, energy and keep a lean, healthy and energized body.
PILLAR #2 will be unlocked tomorrow... stay tuned for an email.