Straight and Curly Episode 15: Getting good sleep


Whew! Bumper episode today guys! Because this is, of course, a massive topic.

First things first – sleep is important, not just to productivity, but to our wellbeing in general. It’s also fairly crucial to our ability to be nice people. Yet, it’s usually the first thing that gets sacrificed when life gets busy. And this is sub-optimal. So we’re hoping this episode of the show makes you more determined to get both the number of hours of sleep you need, but also good quality sleep too.

Some notes/thoughts I want to make sure you take away from this episode:

  • I believe we all need different amount of sleep (I know I function really well on 7 hours a night, but my husband really needs 9 hours if he can get it). The key is to figure out how much you personally need to function well (not just function). Then, based on what time you need to get up in the morning you can start figuring out what your evening sleep routine needs to be.
  • Ideally you’d be screen free for at least an hour before ‘eyes-shut’ and any alcohol and food consumption would be no less than two hours before ‘eye-shut’.
  • So for me, if I want to get up at 4.15am, and know I need 7 hours of sleep, then my eyes need to be shutting at 9.15pm. This means I need to be in bed reading by 8.45pm, no screens after 8.15pm and dinner no later than 7.15pm.

What about those anxious minds that keep us from falling asleep?

  • Here’s something I learned from Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning book. If you’ve ever found yourself going to bed later than normal and thinking “Oh man, I am going to be SO tired tomorrow,” don’t do that! Hal found that, regardless of how much sleep he was going to get, if he told himself “I’m going to be getting exactly the amount of sleep I need tonight and I’m going to feel great when I wake up in the morning”, that’s exactly how things panned out. I have tried and tested this and found it to be true. I’ve had as little as three hours of sleep some nights and still managed to feel great the next morning. This is obviously not something you want to be doing every night – but it definitely works for those odd occasions where you’re tempted to be stressed about the sleep you’re not going to get because of an unusually late night.
  • What about those nights where you’re lying in bed unable to fall asleep and you’re watching hour after after pass, and you’re mentally counting down, “Ok, if I fall asleep now, I’m only going to be getting 5 hours of sleep. Oh no, now I am down to 4 …” Here’s my big tip for this one: remove clocks from your bedroom. When you fall asleep is when you fall asleep and knowing what time you’ve managed to fall asleep is actually not helpful in any way. If you’ve gone to bed telling yourself “The amount of sleep I get tonight is going to be more than enough”, then you will be completely fine.
  • Another thing I’ve found really useful in recent weeks to quiet my anxious mind is I’ve switched doing my morning pages to the evenings. It seems the act of doing a hand-written, 750 word brain dump is almost meditative, and it seems to get the anxieties that are in my head, out of my head!
  • But … if an anxious, racing mind is keeping you awake night after night, please go see your doctor and see if you can get some pharmaceutical help.  I have a ‘you can’t take this every day’ anxiety medication for times where all my usual techniques (exercise, meditation, journalling, breathing) don’t help. And by God, that little pill is amazing. I also find that I really only need to take it for one day as having just that one, good night’s sleep break the anxiety cycle. Please note: I’m not recommending this as a first resort, it’s a last resort thing.

Ok – those are the main points I wanted to make sure get through from the podcast as we cover a LOT of ground in there (and still didn’t really cover everything we could have!) So make sure to listen in and if you want to chat more about this episode, come over to the Straight and Curly Facebook group and chat away!

Not sure how to listen in to these podcasts?

  • If you have an iPhone – the easiest thing to do is open up the Podcasts app (which is on all iPhones) and search for ‘Straight and Curly’. When it comes up, simply subscribe. Once you’re subscribed, all our episodes will automatically download on to your phone (and we will love you to the moon and back).
  • If you’re on your computer, the direct link to our show in iTunes is here. Once you’ve subscribed in iTunes, it will download our episodes into your iTunes and you can then add them to whichever iDevice you like from there.
  • And if all else fails, you can listen to the show directly via the player below 🙂

Comments 3

  1. I listened to both podcasts during my walk this afternoon. I love having a non-FitBit thingy to help me track my 10,000 steps (as well as my sleep!); I don’t beat myself up when I don’t meet a sleep or step goal. In fact, I “fuss back” at the app in my phone (the “SmartCoach” thinks that I want it to fuss at me when I miss one – HA! Not a chance!)

    One thing I would add, that neither of you has yet mentioned re: sleep, and that is LIGHT getting into your brainpan after you’ve slept at all. If I wake enough to visit the toilet in the middle of the night, I fight the urge to open my eyes. I do not turn on any lights, but also, by keeping my eyes closed, I can make it back to bed without having awakened beyond just the absolute minimum to perform the toileting task. Face it; you know where your toilet is, where the paper is, where the sink is, and where the soap and towel are. You can make your way from your bed to all of that and back with your eyes closed. No need to allow additional light to contribute to wakefulness when you really want to continue sleeping.

    My husband, on the other hand, will stir if I join him late. He SITS UP to adjust his sleeping position and LOOKS AT THE CLOCK. He says that my coming to bed late doesn’t disturb or wake him, but that’s really an “all evidence to the contrary” kind of statement. I can’t get him to wind down without at screen, though, so he usually relies on melatonin and aspirin if he doesn’t fall asleep right away. Also, if the cats cry from the other room, he’ll talk to them using his full voice, no matter where I am in my “falling asleep” cycle… which, of course, wakes me. ARGH. But mostly I sleep better than he does.

    Last comment. I would love to leave these podcasts a meaningful review, but I am anti-i and have no iTunes account (nor do I want one). I love being able to comment right here on Kelly’s blog. If you need me to start listening and/or commenting via the specific podcast websites, just let me know. It’s just one extra step that I can definitely handle if it makes things easier for you.

    Whew! That may have been my longest comment yet! Sorry? 😉

    1. Post

      Ah you’re a legend Emelle – you comment wherever suits you! It’s just nice to know you are listening in every week.

      And yeah – I feel we barely touched the sides with this podcast, we might have to do another sleep-related one because there was so much more to say. I too do that thing where I never turn on lights if I go to the toilet in the night!

      1. But do you open your eyes? 😉

        If you do, try it once, and then try again, and keep trying until your new habit is EYES CLOSED. I guarantee it will make a difference in falling back asleep.

        And thanks for permission to comment here! I’m just terribly comfy here! 🙂

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