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Tired of Feeling Tired?

It’s time to fix your sleep.

I’m sure you’ve heard about a million times by now how important sleep is. For starters, sleep repairs and restores metabolic wastes that accumulated during the day (1). Additionally, sleep is shown to repair memories and organize the architecture of our thoughts, ideas, and learning department of our brain (2). In the world of exercise, sleep is the time where our body repairs most of the damaged muscle fibers that were torn during exercise. In fact, studies have shown that poor sleep quality is one of the many factors contributing to cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes (3). The list goes on, and it goes without saying that insufficient sleep is one of the most damaging long term effects on the body. Below you’ll find my 3 step process to start practicing healthier sleeping habits.

It’s time to stop making excuses.

Developing a healthy sleeping habit is one of the hardest tasks to accomplish. It should be no surprise that more than 50 million Americans suffer from sleep deprivation, including various sleeping disorders and fugue states. However, you can’t run away from poor sleeping habits and the earlier you get started on fixing them the better.

“Some people spend their entire lives waiting for the time to be right to make an improvement.”

James Clear

The First Step

is recognizing there is a problem. You’ve got to be honest with yourself and that’s also the hardest part. As humans, we are incredibly adaptive animals, so we’ll find a way to function even on poor sleep. (You can thank your brain for that). Do not accept sub-optimal sleep. Do not accept sub-optimal performance. You deserve to function at your maximum capacity, and lacking sleep will greatly hinder your abilities to do so. In fact, you might not even feel yourself underperforming. Just like dehydration, when you start seeing warning signs it’s already too late.

The Second Step

is developing a game plan and committing to it. You’ll need a system that works for you. You might need to make some sacrifices  initially, but those sacrifices will payoff in the long run. Give yourself a schedule that allows you to get at least 7 hours of sleep at least 6 days per week. You’ll most likely have to start going to bed earlier to find the additional time.

“Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.”

James Clear

This means that you need to give yourself a hard limit on how late you stay up each night. The best way to do that is determine a time to go to bed each night and stick to it. Your goal will be to get 7 hours of sleep, but without a game plan there’s no point in having a goal.

The Third Step

is committing to your game plan and making necessary adjustments as needed. You’ve got to set some rules for yourself. Staying up late will only set you further from your goal. If it’s not worth getting up early for, it’s not worth staying up late for. You won’t see any changes in the first few days either, so don’t give up! Give yourself about 2-3 weeks of actively trying to get to bed early enough to get 7 hours of sleep. If you still aren’t feeling different, you might need to increase your sleep time to 7 1/2 or 8 hours.

Track Your Progress

In today’s world with apps and subscriptions it’s easier than ever to track your progress. I’ve used the following devices as tools for measuring sleep, and I’ll write out some pro’s and con’s for each one so you can find out which is best for you!

Whoop!

The Whoop! strap is a wearable watch-like device that measures your daily activity, your exercise, and your sleep to give you a personalized strain/recovery score. Whoop uses multiple readings from your heart rate to determine how intensive your day was, and compares it to your sleep to measure how much recovery you got (needed).

Pros

  • Very detailed analytics (HRV, HR, Sleep Stages, Calories)
  • Measures the strain from the day’s activities to help you prepare for the following day’s workout intensity
  • Warns you on days where the recovery was insufficient for an intense workout or strain day
  • Battery life (can be worn multiple days in a row without needing to be charged)
  • Can be charged while wearing the strap

Cons

  • The strap can be pretty bulky
  • Fairly expensive subscription-based services (~$20 per month at the time of writing)
  • Does not have an integrated alarm function

Oura Ring

The Oura Ring is a wearable ring that measures daily activity and heart rate responses. It is worn on your finger like any other ring, and feeds biometrics to your phone to provide you with an insight on your sleep and recovery scores.

Pros

  • Sleek design, much smaller than a watch or armband
  • Very accurate HR metrics to provide with minute-to-minute details of sleep patterns
  • Measures different stages of sleep to determine how much high quality sleep you got that night

Cons

  • Quite expensive (~$300 at the time of writing)
  • Delayed process of receiving your ring (requires measurement, personal cutting, and sending)
  • Does not have an integrated alarm function

Sleep Cycle App

The Sleep Cycle app is an iOS and Android app that can be purchased through the app store. The app runs through your phone as your phone will measure movement and sound during your sleep to estimate your sleep score.

Pros 

  • Inexpensive 1 time purchase ($5 at the time of writing)
  • Highly detailed comparison available on the premium subscription
  • Don’t need to wear anything on your arm or finger
  • Integrated alarm to wake you up in a light sleep stage

Cons

  • Requires the phone to be on and running throughout the night
  • Not as accurate as HR metrics usually are

SleepWatch App

The SleepWatch app is an iOS app that pairs with an Apple Watch to give you analytics on your sleep and restful recovery. It also develops personalized habits and modifications if the app detects a streak of poor sleep quality.

Pros

  • Inexpensive subscription service ($3 / month at time of writing)
  • Detailed HR and sleep disruption metrics
  • Modified sleeping habit tool to help determine the optimal time to go to bed
  • Integrated alarm to wake you up in a light sleep stage

Cons

  • Only available on iOS and Apple Watch
  • Can be bulky to wear the Apple Watch to sleep
  • Alarm has occasionally failed to turn on in the morning (this was an issue in the earlier operating system)

The Verdict

At the end of the day (literally) you’ll be the best judge on how to manage your sleep schedule. I personally use the SleepWatch App (I used the Sleep Cycle App for ~ 4 years after switching to the SleepWatch App in March 2020 to preserve my phone’s battery life) and I have had the best sleep of my adult life in the last 6 weeks. The biggest impact on sleep quality I found was sleeping and waking at the same time every day, with an occasional day where I get to sleep an hour longer by going to sleep earlier. Since then, I’ve been able to wake up at the same time every day of the week without feeling groggy, I have a lower dependency on coffee and other caffeinated drinks, and my body feels recovered after a hard day of exercise.

I challenge you to take control of your sleeping habits, and give yourself 4 weeks to improve. I’m not asking you to be a morning person, but I believe everyone deserves their best sleep possible.

  1. Sleep at the same time every night
  2. Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night (increase it if needed)
  3. Wake up at the same time every morning