• Coach Dean Hammond

Make Sleep Your TOP PRIORITY - Sleep Better!

Over 15 Million people in the UK suffer from sleepless nights and a third of these suffer from insomnia…

This is a staggering amount and I can only imagine that’s half of the story!

But the question still lies on how to get a good night’s sleep and solid bedtime routine?

Dropping tablets like there’s no end is not a sustainable lifelong habit that you should turn to and nor is seeking invasive methods such as sleep deprivation in order to get a good night once every 3 days!!!

When we question peoples evening routines and their bedtime rituals we’re often met with defensive premeditated ideas on what they believe is right;

“ I’m just a bit of a night owl and don’t go to bed till I’m tired”

“ Midnight is the time I’ve always gone to bed and 5 hours works well for me”

“ I can’t seem to unwind & fall asleep if I go to bed too early, so I sit and watch tele till I fall asleep…”

Sound like YOU?

Carry on in this fashion and not only will affect your physical health but it’ll also affect your mental health. Cutting your sleep pattern and not establishing a solid routine can take a serious toll on your ability to complete daily tasks, your productivity, your mood, energy levels and one that often gets missed out….your weight!

Believe it not YOU HAVE CONTROL of your sleep despite what you may believe and it’s the daily habits and regular routines that you put in place that will support you in the getting the good night’s sleep you desire time after time.

Let me take you through some TOP TIPS that you can experiment with to boost your training, performance, mindset and everything else in between...

Top Tip No 1 - Get Control of the Power Down Hour

A solid routine BEFORE bed can be a gamechanger when setting the standard high for your Sleep Hygiene.

How…

Well, I’m glad you asked and I’m going to keep this really basic.

You’ve heard of Melatonin right – well this is controlled by light exposure and its essentially one of the mechanisms that control and regulates your sleep-wake cycle.

Now your brain releases more melatonin when its dark which gives you that feeling of being tired. Likewise, this is then regulated when its light to make you feel more alert and ready to take on the day. But a lot of the habits we have been subdued to affect this process and can have a profound effect on your circadian rhythm. But YOU can make some small changes to your evening routine as you POWER DOWN before bed:

Power Down 1 Hour Before Bed

This is a great habit to build! And whilst we’re on the topic using your phone or iPad in night shift mode “IS NOT POWERING DOWN”

Start by removing electronic devices from your routine an hour before bed and try reading a book or preparing the stuff you need for the next day.

My Power Down Hour has been the same for a long time and you may find it useful? Check it out below:

- Electronic devices put in to “Do Not Disturb Mode” 60 minutes before bed

- Prepare work kit and food for the next day

- Read at least 10 pages of a book

- Write in my Journal the following; 3 Big wins for the day, 3 things I’m grateful for & my top 5 priority tasks for the next day.

It seems so simple but if I do these 365 days of the year then the compound effect it has over time will serve me well.

The biggest win I have found personally is using a sleep mask and buying blackout curtains – this has been revolutionary in my recovery and sleep hygiene…

Top Tip No 2 - Manage the Munchies


We already know where this one is going…

Our daily eating habits play another huge role in the quality of your sleep.

Eating nutrient-dense, satiating foods throughout the day that align with your goal (health and performance) is a great starting point and after a few days, many people see changes in their sleep cycle by simply managing their food intake.

But you want to take this to the next level right?

And I’m talking about the munchies that we come up against from 7 pm onwards.

Heavy rich, sugary foods can cause a few distractions and often trigger your body to be more alert and awake.

Dialling this in may just be the ticket!

For me, a casein protein shake and/or a banana seems to do the trick but experiment and find what works for you.

One thing I suggest to many of my clients is cutting out caffeine after 2 pm (for some people this maybe earlier depending on how sensitive you are to caffeine) and this also includes product that has this ingredient – it’s a stimulant – this means the body goes in to fight or flight mode and drinking a cup of coffee before bed is probably not the best idea.

Top Tip No 3 - Daily Exercise is a Golden Ticket


As a fitness professional, coach, a personal trainer I’m obviously going to have a bias toward daily exercise and the benefits that transcend into every other aspect of health and wellbeing.

Studies have shown that people who participate in regular daily activity have better sleep than those who don’t. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to go into the gym and pound yourself into the ground for an hour a day just to get a good night sleep.

Think outside the box…

What exercise or activity do you enjoy?


If this is a 30-minute walk with the dog or 30 mins of bouncing on the trampoline with the kids – brilliant… it’s something that’s helping you stay active!

With this in mind, although it’s the golden ticket, it does take patience and consistency to see the positive effects it’ll have on your sleep pattern. Build an exercise or daily activity routine you can stick to which you can see yourself doing in 12 months’ time.

Top Tip No 4 - Take control of mind & clear your head.


For me personally, this is 1 element that I often find is underrated.

The daily stressors of life need to be managed in the same way we manage our food intake and our daily exercise routine.

Worry, anger, ambient anxiety, depressing thoughts and stress all take their toll on your body in more ways than we have time to explain in this blog but there are some great strategies you can employ.

We’ve already mentioned our “Power Down Hour” and including a relaxation routine in this will set you up perfectly. For me, it all comes down to breathing practice and meditation!

It's probably this point you’re thinking oh good lord…….

Hear me out!!

A simple 3-5-minute breathing routine will help your overstimulated brain begin to unwind and shut down – especially when such things as our phones and social media are glued to our hands. Deep breathing can really help with this area that over 60% of the UK population are struggling with.

Sleep Means everything and in the presence of stress and worry it’s not going to be changed.


So, where do you turn from here?

Well, let’s make this a simple process before you jump into bed and 1 that you can hold yourself accountable to…

First things first – write down 3 things you’re going to implement for the next 3-4 weeks…

DON’T read any further… write it down now and let’s make this happen.

Perfect!

We’ve now made something abstract and you’re holding yourself accountable to those 3 simple things that you can do.

Once you’ve engrained these 3 steps and they become automatic processes then we can begin to add extra elements to your routines.

Honestly, I’m speaking from experience here – don’t change everything all at once!

The smallest changes compound over time create the largest wins.

Try it and let us know how you get on.


Dean

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