Why Sleep Hygiene Is The Ultimate Productivity Hack
Since launching my business, Cacti Wellness Collective, about a year ago, let’s just say there have been some looooong nights. While I’m not glorifying the idea of #teamnosleep, I understand the feeling of always having more work to do and/or not having enough minutes in the day.
That being said, after going HARD on late nights & all nighters for the first six months of business, I reached a point of extreme exhaustion and found myself feeling overly emotional, physically fatigued, and just all around tired. As you may know from experience, this is not a fun (or productive) place to be.
At that point in time, my nighttime schedule looked something like this:
8:00 PM: Work on the couch until eyes are literally shutting
12:00 AM: Head into the bathroom to wash face and brush teeth
12:15 AM: Slide into bed and scroll on IG/check emails until once again, eyes are literally shutting
1:00 AM: Turn out the lights and pass out, toss & turn all night
Upon some self-reflection, it wasn’t hard to realize that this “routine” wasn’t doing me any favors, and it was no wonder I felt drained from the inside out. So, I dove headfirst into research on how to fix my sleep schedule without sacrificing productivity. Upon beginning this journey, I ran into the term “Sleep Hygiene”.
sleep hy·gienenoun. habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis.
Sounds pretty great right? It is! So, to save you hours of research and testing here’s an abridged lesson on the basics of Sleep Hygiene. A Sleep Hygiene 101, if you will – the 10 components of a nighttime routine that have the power to transform your sleep as you know it.
Quality over quantity
While research shows 7-9 hours of sleep is best for adults, the number of hours is null if the sleep is not high-quality. The following tools will help ensure quality sleep, but keep this in mind when you’re mapping out your sleep schedule.
That’s right, I’m talking about turning off your technology. Not only do electronics emit blue light (which literally tells your brain that it’s time to be awake), they also often are the source of intense stimulation for our senses. The mind needs time to process information and “wind down” thoughts before it will allow you to fall asleep, so the earlier you cut off your time looking at your phone, computer, or tv, the better.
Warm bath/warm water
Submerging your body in warm water is scientifically proven to relax your muscles, relieve pain, and reduce anxiety. It’s no wonder this helps you fall asleep. While a bath is most effective, simply taking a warm shower to rinse off the day can be beneficial as well.
I’m sure we can all agree that personal hygiene is important, but when it comes to your nighttime routine, creating strong habits in this category can be especially effective. Not only can these habits assist in sending the message to your brain that it’s time to get in bed, but brushing your teeth and tongue scraping also removes bacteria which improves digestion and allows your body to rest calmly.
If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night because you’re too hot or sweaty, the culprit may be your sleepwear. Finding breathable sleepwear (especially made from satin, silk, cotton, linen), will keep you cool and dry all night long. Some of my affordable favorites include this satin set & this 100% cotton set.
Swapping out red light in your lamps in the evening hours is said to help stimulate the production of melatonin (the hormone that controls our sleep cycle). While the research is still a bit inconclusive, it certainly provides a relaxing environment and is much gentler than bright white light or blue light from our devices! Here is the lightbulb I recommend, which is controlled by a remote to dim and change colors.
Similarly to the sleepwear, if your room is either too cold or too hot, you’re much more likely to wake in the night. The ideal temperature for adult humans to sleep in is between 65-67 degrees fahrenheit. Using a fan with a built in air purifier can also help, especially if you live in an urban area where the air quality is less than ideal.
Diving into a book before bed is linked with increased brain power, creativity, and relaxation. These benefits carry through the night and all the way into the next day, talk about a twofer!
The practice of writing before bed can be very therapeutic and is also an excellent way to clear your mind. If you find yourself with “racing thoughts” while you’re trying to fall asleep, keep a journal next to your bed and when your mind begins to move a million miles a minute, take out a pen and write all of the thoughts down. This way, you can rest assured that your thoughts won’t be forgotten the following morning.
Of course, it’s well known that it’s easier to sleep with the lights off, but the reasoning runs deep within our biology. While red light may help stimulate melatonin production, pitch darkness is a surefire way to boost the production and signal to your brain that it’s time for bed. That being said, do your best to eliminate any light sources from your room by shutting blinds and potentially sleeping with an eye mask in order to achieve optimal sleep.
With this knowledge, I got straight to work. After about 6 months of testing these strategies and refining my night routine practice, I can confidently say that I have it down to a science.
If you’re looking to kickstart your journey to better sleep, here’s my exact nighttime routine for a successful 5 AM wake up. Give it a try, and shoot me an email or DM to let me know how you feel!
8:00 PM: All technology is put away and placed on Do Not Disturb (or, preferably, Airplane Mode)
8:15 PM: Draw a bath and/or brew peppermint tea
8:45 PM: Rinse the day off, brush teeth, complete skincare routine, put on pajamas
9:00 PM: Prepare for the following day (plug in devices, set coffee machine, lay out gym clothes)
9:15 PM: Set up bedroom for success. Close blinds, switch to red light, turn thermostat down to 67, turn on Dyson fan/air purifier, un-make bed
9:30 PM: Read, journal, and write out any last minute thoughts before heading to sleep
10:00 PM: Lights out, eyes closed. A restful 7 hours of sleep ahead.
One last note for those of you who may be thinking “This all sounds great, but I need those nighttime hours to work. There’s no way I can get to sleep by 10 PM every night!”.
Look, I hear you. I am you! But, the beauty of this routine is that once you get in a groove, your waking hours are exponentially more productive than they used to be.
Think about it, your brain gets the opportunity to actually recharge and reset during the night, so rather than fighting fatigue on top of a crazy schedule, you’re able to have more energy to do the work, and on top of that, your thoughts will be sharper and quicker. Talk about a productivity hack! Sweet dreams.