We get told that if you snooze, you lose...
When I started working in the City about 15 years ago, I soon learned that "the only way to win in this job is to work harder and sleep less than other people" and "if you snooze, you lose".
...and that we can only function on coffee, and only wind down with alcohol….
I'd see people propping themselves up with several double shot expressos and siruppy lattes before and during work, and then needing at least a couple of glasses of wine to "wind down" before bed.
… and that Monday mornings are really hard…
I'd see people drag themselves into work on a Monday morning with suitcases under their eyes because they hadn't been able to sleep at night. "It's part of the job description, Bianca, better get used to it" I remember my boss telling me "if you can't function on minimal sleep, you're clearly not cut out for this job"
...I used to believe all that…
The first 4 years or so I tried to fit in and prove to the guys that I was worthy of working for them... I drank the coffees, I went to the pub after work, I complained about being tired.
… until that day…
Until that day where I went to a lunchtime spinning class and as soon as i got on the bike i had a feeling that I wouldn’t last the class. I got off my class just a few minutes into the class and went to take a really long shower. That’s when I decided to get help.
...then I started sleeping more and got promoted...
A few weeks later, I was sleeping better, had more energy, and worked fewer hours. I also got promoted and a massive pay rise.
...I also have more energy and lost some weight around my waist
What I have left behind were the coffee and sugar cravings, head aches, and the afternoon slump. I also lost a few pounds around the waistline.
Sound counter-intuitive? Read on…
It seems so counter-intuitive that by working less, and by sleeping more, I went from surviving to thriving in what’s thought to be a very high-pressured career. But here’s the research to back it up:
Sleep helps you make more money
Let’s start with the one point that will grab most you your attention- yes! Research has found that sleep helps you make more money! Do you need any more convincing that sleep is good for you!
Two separate studies found that a one-hour increase in sleep duration increased the subjects’ salary by 5 to 16%, with the biggest increase in commission-based professions like sales. Sleep is like a natural supplement for your brain, and studies have shown that sleep improves memory, focus and creativity.
Sleep is critical for your immune system
When you’re suffering from a cold, one of the first things your doctor would tell you is to get plenty of sleep. There’s plenty of research that backs it up. Sleep is perhaps the single best measure you can take to deal with, or prevent, colds and viral infections.
In a recent study, poor sleep was the main determinant of whether someone got sick, overriding their age, race, income, stress level and habits like smoking.
Other studies have shown that insufficient sleep means suboptimal production of T cells ( the white blood cells that play a critical part in the immune system’s response to viruses) and cytokines, a multifaceted protein that helps the immune system quickly respond to antigens.
Sleep helps you lose weight
There is so much focus on food and movement when it comes to weight loss, but the one crucial but totally underappreciated aspect of health that most of us are unaware of is Sleep!
Sleep helps you lose weight in two main ways:
Firstly, it regulates your hunger and satiety hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Ever woke up sleep deprived and craved comfort food all day, and no matter how much you ate, it wouldn’t satisfy you? That’s because ghrelin would have been around in abundance, causing you to stay hungry and store ample amounts of fat in your body.
Secondly, sleep helps regulate stress hormones, notably cortisol. When cortisol levels are high, the body cannot burn fat, and you won’t lose weight.
Sleep makes you more attractive
We talk about “Beauty Sleep” in a tongue-in-cheek way, but recent research has proven that it’s a thing! Imagine how much money you could save on collagen shots, facials and serums if you get enough sleep.
Sleep gives you energy
Sleep helps prevent chronic illness
Sleep deprivation has been linked to numerous chronic illnesses such as chronic pain, inflammation, diabetes, heart disease and even certain cancers.
Sleep improves your relationships
Ever head into work after a poor night of sleep and wish you could just not talk to anyone that day? Not sleeping well reduces our ability for empathy, and can create social anxiety and depression. Our ability to relate well to others, act collaboratively, and communicate effectively are all dependent on sleep.
Now that you know WHY you want to get enough sleep, let’s move on to the HOW.
As a sleep and burnout prevention coach, people often ask me “Bianca, what are your top tips for Sleep? “ and I tell them that the two most important things to pay attention to are your day time habits and your beliefs about sleep.
Here’s what to do to get more sleep:
Sleep hygiene is sooo last year...
You’ve heard about sleep hygiene. You know that you should keep your sleep environment tidy, have a cool and dark room, and to avoid screens (including electronic book readers, which can half our melatonin levels), bright lights at least one or two hours before bed time. You also know that you should do strenuous exercise early in the day, and definitely not before bed.
But here’s what you probably don’t know yet: Research has actually shown that educating on sleep hygiene was the least effective in helping people sleep better. In a recent study, the group of participants whose sleep improved the most were the group that has exposure to a light box every morning. Yes, a light box, and first thing in the morning.
Get some light as soon as you wake up
Rather than worrying too much about establishing a multi-step evening routine, do this as soon as you wake up: Get some natural light… and also have a bite to eat. This is to tell your circadian clock that it’s morning, and will make it much easier to sleep at night.
Get up at the same time every day, even on the weekend (no more “social jet lag”)
Talking about circadian rhythms: Get up at the same time each day, even on the weekend! This really matters: The main reason why Sunday night is often cited as the night where people get the least sleep is that they sleep in on weekend mornings, therefore killing their sleep drive, which leaves them unable to go to sleep on time on Sunday night.
Balance your blood sugar
One potential reason for night waking is low blood sugar, which then drives up the stress hormone cortisol and keeps us awake The solution: Balance your blood sugar by reducing simple carbs and sugar, and by always including a source of protein in every meal. If you believe that low blood sugar could be the reason for your night waking, have a spoon of nut butter before bed and see what that does for you.
Limit stimulants such as coffee, cola, chocolate after lunch
Other than the circadian rhythm, which we’ve already talked about above, your sleep is also regulated by something called “sleep drive”, which is a molecule called adenosine that’s building up in your brain when you’re awake. The problem with caffeine is that it’s very similar to adenosine and that it attaches to adenosine receptors in your brain… preventing you from sleep!
No alcohol before bed
Moving on to Alcohol. While alcohol may help you start sleeping, it actually reduces the quality of your sleep. Avoid it in the evening. If you must, have it for lunch.
Schedule some “worry time” during the day
If you’re tossing and turning at night because you’re worried about something, schedule in some “thinking” or, if you prefer to call it that way “worry time” during the day, but not right ahead of bed time. Your bedroom is meant for sleep and sex only. If your subconscious associates your bed with “thinking” or “worrying”, and it’s keeping you awake, you need to change that association asap.
Avoid buying a new mattress
Your mattress is the most toxic item in your household… It contains numerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that disrupt your endocrine system and therefore your sleep. Mattresses take an average of 7 years to off-gas, which is much longer than other items of furniture. And mattresses are very close to your nose and your skin.
Get an indoor air filter
The good news: Indoor VOCs, from furniture, paint and particle board, can be filtered out by an indoor air filter that filters out VOCs. So rather than buying a new mattress, get yourself one of those machines and improve the air quality in your home.
No gadgets in the bedroom
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) can be responsible for interfering with your body’s natural rhythms and therefore your sleep. Don’t have your bed near a fuse box, and switch off your sleep gadgets’ blue tooth, wifi router, and any other electronics.
Get your bloods checked for vitamin deficiencies and unbalanced hormones
Deficiency in Vitamin D, certain B vitamins, healthy fats, ferritin and magnesium have been linked with sleep issues. If you’re a guy and under-eat, your testosterone levels may be too low to get a good night’s sleep. Hormone imbalances can also disrupt sleep. If you’re a woman and can’t sleep, your hormones may be out of whack- check how much exposure you have to plastics, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, VOCs, and get help to de-tox your lifestyle.
Are you ready for step 2?
Now that you’ve audited your lifestyle and ironed out the sleep saboteurs in your habits, let’s move on to where the music is playing: The subconscious beliefs that are secretly sabotaging your sleep, even if you don’t consciously know about them. Curious? Read on!
Most of us have limiting beliefs about sleep itself….
Most of us have been programmed by our environment that sleep is boring, sleep is for the weak, and you can sleep when you’re dead. Some of us, me included, have been told by colleagues that you’re probably not suitable for your chosen career if you need a lot of sleep.
Or maybe you believe that if you sacrifice an hour of sleep in order to get more work done, you’ll sleep more efficiently?
Some of us don’t even realise we have these limiting beliefs about sleep that are secretly sabotaging our ability to get good night’s sleep.
… and we also hold limiting beliefs about our own ability to sleep...
I used to think for over 30 years that i was a light sleeper. (Today i know that i was unknowingly sabotaging my sleep by timing my food intake and exercise wrong, and by making my bed my “worry zone”)
… here’s some examples…
Clients often tell me that their sleep is sporadic, they can’t sleep unless it’s absolutely quiet, etc etc. These are basically all versions, in one way or another, of “I don’t feel safe when I’m sleeping”. This is likely a belief that was adopted during an event in your past life, and it can be re-programmed so that sleep comes to you and stays with you through the night, and you wake up rejuvenated and alert.
Most of us are not aware that our subconscious has actually adopted these beliefs
As a hypnotherapist, I see a lot of people who consciously belief that they have no limiting beliefs, but then find numerous sabotaging beliefs when I regress them while their in trance. What’s amazing about that is that it allows them to find out what these unknown subconscious beliefs are, and re-program them in the spot. You leave the session with your personalised recording of sleep affirmations, a bit like yoga nidra for sleep if you’re familiar with that, which will relax you at bed time and hard-wire your new beliefs about sleep while you’re sleeping.
The right habits + the right beliefs= the most amazing sleep ever
So there you have it, if you change your day-time habits and reprogram your beliefs about sleep, you have a fool-proof system to ensure you get a good night’s sleep every night, so that you can thrive in your professional and personal life, and really feel deeply connected to loved ones.
Are you ready to be more productive, more loving and full of energy?
If you don’t want to go this alone, I’m here to support you. As a certified health coach, I help my clients every day to sustainably change their habits in an easy and fun way, using a proven system that gets results. If desired, we’ll add some RTT hypnotherapy sessions to rewire your beliefs, and I’m also a yoga teacher and can record a personalised yoga morning and /or evening routine for you. Book your complimentary breakthrough session with me by clicking on the link below.