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!

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