[Image Credit: Minoru Nitta]
[Maria’s Note: Today I’ve invited Eric Conley to talks about how sleep boosts weight loss, gives you laser like focus at work, and provides all day energy so you can enjoy quality time when you get home. In this posts he gives away the best night routine to fall asleep fast every night.
Eric hustles at his day job with a Fortune 500 company, but his real passion is coaching CrossFit at one of the best gyms in the country. He’s helped hundreds of people lose weight and gain energy to look and feel their absolute best.]
At CrossFit, I’ve coached new mothers to help them reclaim their pre-pregnancy body and thirty-something women to look better than most sorority girls.
These physical results are impressive — but the best part of being a coach is watching their confidence skyrocket.
One of my clients, Teresa, completely transformed her life. Initially Teresa was intimidated by the gym, but as members welcomed her and she got her first taste of CrossFit, she was immediately hooked.
Within weeks she felt a difference in her body, mood, and energy. Suddenly, co-workers, friends, and family were commenting on how Teresa became outgoing and started smiling more than ever. She began to let her true self shine and developed an unshakable confidence in herself.
It all started when Teresa’s workouts became something she looked forward to. And because she wanted to perform well, she started to eat clean so her body would be nourished and ready to go.
This kind of lifestyle is what helped Teresa get her initial results. But she wanted more. No longer was “showing up” to the gym enough, she wanted to get her high school body back.
The answer wasn’t to work out more or give up her once-in-a-while cheat meal. What she needed more than anything else was rest.
She’s a single, ambitious mother who works full-time supporting the VP of a Fortune 500 company and is ALWAYS there for her son. Teresa’s body (and mind) was craving rest and relaxation to rejuvenate from her “always-on” lifestyle.
A healthy lifestyle begins with sleep
Think about the last time you slept in. You gently woke up — you know, the kind of waking up where you gradually become conscious without even opening your eyes. Then slowly you become in tune with where your body is and after a while you open your eyes and get up. At this point, you couldn’t have fallen back asleep if you wanted to.
That is how being perfectly rested looks like.
When you start your day like this, you benefit both physically and mentally. Instead of being jolted by an alarm clock to wake up, you’re ready to start another beautiful day with a smile on your face.
What sleep does for your body
The right exercise routine and diet will only take you so far.
But when you combine exercise and healthy foods with a good night’s sleep your results will skyrocket.
Here’s how: When you give your body rest, your insulin and glucose levels will return to their proper levels. And proper insulin and glucose levels gives you the ideal body composition.
This also affects you, people with hyper- or hypo- thyroidism.
Sleep expert, Kirk Parsley, M.D., explains how this works in detail:
Insulin is in charge of something we call fuel partitioning. Fuel partitioning is what your body does with the food you eat. When insulin sensitivity is low, you tend to store more body fat — as opposed to using that fuel for your muscles, or the rest of your body’s physiologic functions.
Typically, when you have a low insulin sensitivity, you crave high glycemic index foods, which is then usually followed by a blood sugar crash, which then makes one hungry again. This means you will be eating a lot more calories to try to maintain a favorable blood glucose level.
However, hormones like testosterone and thyroid hormone are also affected by sleep. These have an effect on body composition and fuel partitioning too.
Other factors, like lowered will power–due to sleep deprivation — affect what one eats also.
The science boasts that a good night’s rest allows you to work smarter, not harder (something Maria is a big believer in). Your diet and exercise routine will boost naturally and help you trim up quicker than you ever thought possible.
Now that is something worth smiling about.
What sleep does for your mind
Sleeping well means waking up with more willpower and mental energy to deal with what psychologists call decision fatigue:
Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of decision making. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making. For instance, judges in court have been shown to make less favorable decisions later in the day than early in the day.
As an ambitious professional woman you’ve got thousands of daily decisions and “to-do’s” for not only yourself, but your co-workers, bosses, family, and friends. As the day goes on, you not only become physically tired, but mentally tired too.
A good night’s sleep gives you the mental energy to say “no” to temptation with food (goodbye Pumpkin Spiced Lattes) and “yes” to the gym — even if you’ve had too long of a day at work.
Contrary to popular belief, willpower isn’t something you have or lack. It comes and goes in waves that depend upon how you nourish your body. You can boost your willpower each and every day by giving yourself the quality sleep you need.
Clear your mind and fall asleep fast – like in minutes
Now we know the profound impact of getting a good night’s sleep. What we don’t know is how to relax and prepare our body and mind for rest, so that we can actually fall asleep fast instead of turning around in bed.
I’ve been guilty of this myself. I get to work early and leave late, so when it’s finally “my time” in the late evening I wanted to enjoy it, guilt free. This meant binge watching Netflix and surfing through pictures on Instagram — well into the evening.
Then I read something that stuck with me forever: “If you wouldn’t wake up early to do this, you shouldn’t stay up late to do it either.”
This single quote changed my entire mindset.
Although this helped me go to bed earlier, it didn’t necessarily help me fall asleep fast.
It’s one thing to understand the importance of sleep and quite another to implement.
If you’re reading this post I know that you’re driven and want to be successful in everything you do — your career, your relationships, and especially the new exercise and diet routine you’ve just committed to.
This means that when you lay down to fall asleep your mind is racing.
It goes something like this: When you lay down you realize how crazy the next few weeks are going to be. You’re balancing it all — working for that promotion at the office, taking care of your family, AND trying to enjoy the social life you value so much.
These thoughts keep you awake for hours, robbing you of the rest you need.
The 2-part system to eliminate anxiety and fall asleep fast
Recently, I was in a meeting reviewing company policies and procedures, and someone joked “If you ever want to put yourself to sleep, just read this”.
Although my colleagues need a little help with their humor, this comment was spot on.
Reading bland, boring, and dull terms over and over requires an incredible amount of mental energy and concentration. You literally have to be 100% present with your thoughts.
This is when it clicked for me. To regain control over our thoughts we have to be completely present to remove all the guilty thoughts from our mind. That’s how we can fall asleep fast!
This is just as easy as it sounds 🙂
Leave work at work and enjoy your evenings (guilt free)
Here is my 2-minute exercise that I personally do at the end of each workday to clear my mind and enjoy my evenings, guilt free
- Grab a pen and paper
- Write down the three things you want to accomplish tomorrow
- Write down when you’ll accomplish them
Then, when you show up to work the next day you’ll know exactly what to work on (and when) giving you a natural boost in the morning.
This exercise creates a boundary between your career and personal life allowing you to leave work at work and enjoy evening time with family and friends.
The Stop and Snooze night routine to fall asleep fast
The Stop and Snooze routine begins with a simple, but profound idea – an evening alarm on your alarm clock.
You are probably using your alarm clock to wake you up in the morning, but you haven’t considered using your alarm to help you get to sleep.
Setting up your evening alarm is easy — just work backwards from the time you wake up.
For example, if you want to have seven hours of sleep (recommended minimum) and need to be awake by 6 AM, then you’d need to fall asleep by 11 PM the night before. To be asleep by 11 PM, you’ll need to set your evening alarm to 10 PM to trigger your Stop and Snooze Routine an hour before sleep.
A Day in the Life
Ninety percent of the time, I’m asleep by 10 PM during the week. I get at least seven hours of sleep before I wake up at 5 AM for CrossFit.
To help me get to sleep by 10 PM, I have my evening alarm clock prompt me to begin my nightly routine at 9 PM:
- Pack gym bag with office clothes
- Set workout clothes and shoes out in the living room
- Have boiled eggs (peeled), oatmeal with blueberries and a protein shake ready in the fridge
- Drink Sleepy Time tea
- Read until I fall asleep
As mundane as this routine might seem, I get excited anticipating my 9 PM alarm. Even if I’m working on my laptop, I know that when 9 PM comes around, it’ll be time to quit. The rest of the evening is “my time,” and I get to cap it off with reading — something I always claimed to “never have time for.”
And when my 5 AM alarm goes off, I’m out of my bed and out the door in less than 15 minutes because I had set everything up for myself, leaving me with zero excuses to miss a workout.
How To Fall Asleep Fast, Every Night
Determine what time you want to wake up in the morning. Count backwards the number of hours you wish to sleep plus one and set your alarm (i.e. wake up at 5 AM while getting 7 hours of sleep requires a 10 PM snooze time and 9 PM evening alarm).
When your evening alarm (i.e. 9 PM) goes off, begin taking care of all the items you would normally put off till morning and get them done now. This includes picking out your clothes for tomorrow and setting out your breakfast items (dishes and preparing your food) and shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes. Even as someone who preaches good sleep habits, I’m never motivated first thing in the morning. Why fight against yourself in the morning when you can get your morning tasks out of the way at night?
After spending 15 minutes getting your things ready for the morning, it is now “your” time. Enjoy it reading, meditating, taking a warm shower, talking to your spouse — whatever! This is your guilt-free time, and you can choose to do whatever you like, just make sure the lights are out by 10 PM (or whatever time allows you to get the hours of sleep you need).
After just a few days of doing this, you’ll begin to look forward to both your late night and morning routines. You’ll have dedicated time to yourself in the evening and your mornings will be on autopilot as you enjoy a pre-made breakfast.
Before and After with Teresa
Teresa has been consistent with CrossFit and eating clean for 12 months — the weight continues to drop while her confidence continues to go up.
Combining this with a good night’s sleep is magnifying Teresa’s results. The benefits are endless with her healthy sleeping habits:
- She avoids the snooze button and wakes up with ease knowing that everything is ready for her to begin the day.
- Her anxiety-filled thoughts about work have been removed, allowing her to fall asleep peacefully by knowing exactly what tasks to accomplish tomorrow (and when).
- She has consistently high energy ALL DAY to excel at work, hit the gym, and enjoy time with her family and friends at night.
Sleep has been a force multiplier for Teresa, and effectively doubled the results for all of her work and health goals.
[Maria’s Note: So what’s your night routine? Do you find it easy to fall asleep fast? Any questions for Eric? Just leave a comment!]
Eric is the author of ericconley.com and the author of where he helps hundreds of people become early risers to lose weight with morning workouts. If you like his 2-minute exercise to eliminate worry and fall asleep fast, you’ll love his e-book, How to Fall Asleep in Minutes.