They say in life that ‘timing is everything’. Time the launch of your new product, time your run to the winning line in that marathon you are running or simply timing when you choose to go on holiday. Get it right, and you’re on a ticket to ride. Get your timing wrong and it can be the difference between an average experience and a fantastic one.
So it seems to be with sleep. I always say to my colleagues at work that the difference between a good day and an average one is a good night’s sleep. Why? Because you feel alert, light and ready to tackle whatever challenges are thrown at you. When you feel tired and lethargic as a result of a poor night’s sleep (or in some cases, no sleep at all), sometimes going to your desk and hiding in front of Google or being distracted by anything but work is as much as you can bear. I know – I’ve had that feeling. I bet you have had it too.
We often hear that the key to feeling rested and alert is getting enough sleep. In this results driven world, we are often totally obsessed with ‘what’ or ‘how much’. We have apps galore that measure your every move, every calorie, every heart beat. We wish to ‘optimise’ our time spent exercising in the (often forlorn) hope that spending the correct amount of time will lead to the results we desire. In some cases, undertaking a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) regime can do that, but all the same, we often overlook the wisdom of when we should be exercising to achieve those results.
That’s where being ‘smart’ about your sleep comes in. Have you noticed that diurnal animals such as dogs often go to bed early? Our dog, Lassie, will just announce to the household and take herself off to bed between 8 and 9PM every day whilst my parents are lazing around, watching tv, often falling asleep on the couch in the process. I am often amazed at the supreme intelligence of these animals as they live according to the rhythms of nature.
In this regard, Ayurveda (the sister science of Yoga) provides that being in tune with life’s daily rhythms, and especially going to be early, is the key to a long, healthy life. From 10PM to 2AM, our body goes into overdrive: cleaning itself of any residual waste and toxins, repairing cells and generally having a rejuvenating affect upon our tired cells (and mind). That’s why going to bed early is the key to starting the engine and maximising the restorative effects of sleep.
Even if you were to grab the optimal 7 – 9 hours sleep that ‘Big Health’ advises, I can tell you there’s a big difference between going to bed between 10-11PM and 11-12PM. Fall in the later category, and you are likely to wake up lethargic and struggle to get out of bed. Go to bed earlier however, and chances are you will be bouncing to get out of bed and do a few sun salutations (like me) or jump on that treadmill. Well, maybe not. But you know what I mean. Miss that first hour and you’ve only get half the ‘bang for your buck’.
I know I’ve found my routine and I’m loving it.
That’s of course assuming you haven’t stuffed yourself with steak and three veg or some meat lovers pizza (any pizza really…dairy(!)). You guessed it, eating light in the evenings is also the key. Sorry my Spaniard friends: siestas YES, but midnight dinner dates… NO. 😉
What’s your experience of sleep? Do you find getting into a rhythm of going to bed early helps, or do the Night Owls rule supreme?