The power of sleep – how to set goals for better rest
Let’s talk about meaningful ways for a full recharge of your body… but without any generalities and not for too long so that we don’t make you drowsy in any way.
Our intention is showing you how to take this one aspect of the vision for health, namely the quality of sleep, and set a 90-day goal for it.
We are not doctors, we never had any related experience and yet we think that our past trials and errors in this could be more than valuable to anyone. We hope our road, starting with the need for better habits in that respect and then to the 90-day goals to achieve it, would be as interesting as helpful to you.
And there is a “bonus” at the end too – a list of selected tactics to enhance sleep. These are for you to try out.
Why is it so important
You must be well aware your body requires good habits in many aspects – be that exercising, hydration, eating well and, of course, no smoking, recreational drugs or any other form of abuse of substance.
A healthy routine may seem to be a key to longevity but if it doesn’t incorporate a good and complete rest it won’t work at all.
We think of sleep as a catalyst for all these strategies. It’s not replacing them but instead it boosts their effectiveness. They all reinforce each other to bring in the good results.
In case you wonder what the point is here, in a conversation about goals…
Vision for Health
No doubt, sleep should be part of it. And while exercise on a regular basis is among the most obvious and intuitive objectives for physical fitness, the other roads to wellbeing might very well end up on the back-burner because of it.
So, let’s try to focus on this most essential phenomenon for the next period by setting a target for its improvement.
In that respect, we, the two Goal Buddies, are at different stages of progress.
Our exploits so far
Ivan has some vast experience in enhancing and maintaining good night sleep. These are some of the examples of goals he did set up and subsequently got achieved. Now they are incorporated in his healthy way of life.
– to reduce caffeine intake, especially towards the end of the day;
– to reorganize his room so that it becomes virtually a “sleeping oasis”;
– to refrain from watching TV in bed and using anything emitting blue light.
At the same time Niki has tried out over the years quite a few different ways to optimize sleep without ending up with a systematic classification. Only recently he set and achieved his first 90-day goal. This brand new experience of his makes for a great example. So, maybe you will find it interesting.
Even if it was his first try to tackle the problem in such a structured way by employing “GoalBuddy”, it was quite straightforward for him because of the following two factors:
# 1 Starting Point
When you have a serious interest in goals and means for self-improvement you might very well create the valuable skill of living consciously. Or, as in this case, make an effort to observe yourself, your behavior and feelings. The objective is to be able to make the most informed decisions.
For example, Niki has been writing down for years the co-relation between his own habits and their effect on his rest. And because of this “historical record” he has the chance to filter out what hasn’t worked out for him.
In other words, if you have a vision for health, your mind is on an autopilot moving in this direction even if you haven’t yet set any targets. Your subconscious searches daily for what’s good for you, or at least registers and archives your experience so that one day you can go back to it.
# 2 Framework
It’s important to have something around which to organize your method and here comes in our system. It’s a perfect guide – how to set your goal and to measure progress, in what manner to get the most value. Not to mention here how much confidence you can gain in the process.
All of this is an invaluable help, especially when you are about to start something you are not very familiar with. As for us, we love to treat every new challenge as uncharted territory. We try to learn as much as possible about it and thus carefully prepare for the “conquest”.
In those cases when we aren’t quite sure how to begin with something we usually start with 90-day goals for research.
The literature on the topic
Don’t you think it makes sense to learn as much as possible first!
As we’ve already pointed out a clear vision has this nice side effect – your mind is collecting the relevant information. So, you can make life much easier for your brain by getting through a couple of books. And that would be a good start.
You will read about many great ideas including some for 90-day goals. Such could be building better sleep techniques and experimenting with some new ones.
These are our top 3 recommendations:
“Sleep smarter” by Shawn Stevenson
This book is a vast compilation of science-based tips and tricks of type “how to”. In fact, most of our strategies came from there.
“Sleep” by Nick Littlehales
You can trust the author. He consulted Manchester United and Real Madrid coaching players how to relax for a faster recovery and better performance on the field. It was his idea that Ronaldo has a place for a nap between training sessions.
However, you’ll most likely benefit from the concept of 90-minute cycles in which the phases of deep and light sleep alternate. It’s best, he insists, to wake up at the top of these intervals – that is, when it is easiest and most natural to do so.
In fact, this isn’t a brand new advice. But Nick Litheales does not stop there.
Try to always go to bed at the same time
The most innovative law in the book is always to get up at the same time while it is the moment of hugging the pillow that needs to be varied with the 90-minute cycle in mind. Or, if you want to open your eyes at 6 o’clock, you calculate the number of periods you need for an hour and a half and determine when to go to bed. Let’s say it’s 22:30, but for some reason you miss it. Then you don’t get anywhere close to the bed before the start of the next cycle or around midnight.
One of Ivan’s 90-day goals was to experiment with this theory and see if it would work out for him.
“The Power of When” by Michael Breus, PhD
This excellent research tackles the problem from a different perspective. It’s about your personal chronotype, the internal biological clock that determines the body rhythm throughout the day.
Dr. Breus is asserting that depending on your type, “lion”, “bear”, “dolphin” or “wolf”, you enjoy some optimal timeframe when you are most effective, be that at sports, meetings with people, etc.
You should try his test at thepowerofwhen.com. It can serve as a reference to whether you are setting up your activities accordingly or you need just a little bit of adjustment.
In case you aren’t the morning type, for example, you can talk to your manager to go to the office at around 10 am and end work later in the evening. It’s worth trying at least …
Well, enough of other people’s endeavors. Let’s finally see what Niki’s objective looks like.
A 90-day goal to improve your sleeping habits
Definition: “To develop a strategy for enhancement and maintenance of my sleep”.
Hmm … Quite an ambitious one, right? Shouldn’t it be tied to action, not results? Exactly. Here is a detailed description of what its purpose is:
– Finding the 2 hours a week to read a couple of chapters from the book “Sleep smarter” and compile a list of some good ideas;
– Rearranging the list of things that I have found over the years to have a positive effect on me;
– Merging the two lists and working on it weekly.
- A list of things I’ve done and I shouldn’t forget to do.
- A list of things I can do better in the future – some new approaches I have not tried.
But don’t put your pajamas on yet! There are a few other things to go over first.
You might be aware that you can’t improve much in anything without being able to effectively quantify it. So, after going through some research and formulating your objectives it’s a good idea to have some control mechanism. Or in other words, a feedback to collect data and then draw conclusions, analyze and adapt your behavior.
Perhaps most intuitively is simply to keep an eye on the effects of different methods you employ. Imagine how you would feel – your sleep as well as ever and in the morning you get out of bed with a smile.
If that happens then you should acknowledge those changes you made that must have had this impact on you. Write these down and try them again but then experiment more with others till you get a better daily routine built up.
In addition, there are some new gadgets entering the market for the last couple of years and they can also do a great job.
Be smart when taking measure
Nowadays Ivan has a Sleep Cycle alarm clock. Using acoustic and motion sensors it detects at what stage of sleep he is and wakes him up at the right moment (when sleep is lightest and the awakening is effortlessly smooth) within a 30-minute interval he has set.
Another option is to use a smart bracelet as long as it is comfortable enough for you, of course.
You must be wondering how technologies like these can assist you in this?
Analyze and adjust
With the application and the bracelet you can do tracking of exactly how your cycles look like, what’s the percentage of quality rest you got and what your habits are in terms of bedtime and sleep length.
What’s crucial here is that when you input your daylight behavior you will get at the output a fuller story of the relationship between your routine and how effective is your rest. This will give you the chance to have control over factors such as caffeine drinks, late dinners, exercise, etc.
By answering the question “why“ you’ll be able to pinpoint what in your actions is a plus and what not, and then you can act as required.
It’s high time now to take on Niki’s list. It was a result of his 90-day goal. Some of these ideas have been already tried out, others have just found their place there and are just about to be subjected to a test run. We both agree that these make perfect sense to us and therefore are more than worthwhile to share.
We split it into two parts: things we recommend to do and those to avoid.
Say YES to:
- Adequate magnesium intake.
- Waking up at the top of the 90-minute sleep phase.
- Getting up at the same time but your going to bed should be based on the cycle.
- Plenty of oxygen – open windows and/or place a plant or two in your room.
- The temperature must be no more than 70 °F. It’s good to have central cooling if it is a bit too loud in your neighborhood to have the windows open.
- Complete silence is preferable whenever possible.
- Darkness – best when you can’t see you hand when reaching out. Install a solid storm window or put a “black out” curtain and no devices whatsoever that blink or emit any light.
- Going to bed in time. You do so to ensure the optimal number of sleep hours.
- Comfortable pajamas and/or night gowns.
- Sustaining balanced hormonal function – higher cortisol levels in the morning mean adequate melatonin production in the evening. For this purpose, after you get up you should spend a few minutes in the sun to generate vitamin D and do some short and easy exercises.
- Sun exposure during the day – get meetings done outside and avoid using sunglasses whenever possible.
- A hot shower an hour or so before bed.
Say NO to:
- Blue light emitting devices. If absolutely necessary then you’d better use glasses with filters. There are also programs for desktops and laptops, phone applications such as F.lux and it is a built-in feature in the latest models.
- You should avoid the bright bulbs which destroy the balance between the cortisol in the morning and melatonin in the evening. Use the type of eyewear such as “Sleep Magic” or get your home equipped with bulbs that are programmed to turn from blue in the morning into red in the evening.
- Alcohol. It may help you fall asleep right away but it comes with a hefty price tag. Either reduce its consumption or wait for a couple hours before going to bed.
- Caffeine drinks later in the day. Approximately 50% of caffeine remains in the body for 8 hours… and we are sure this isn’t your intent when having your late afternoon cup of coffee.
- Work in bed. No one wants to associate their “sleep oasis” with job related stress, deadlines, emails, etc.
- Carbohydrates loaded dinner. Have a snack or a dinner that’s not too heavy.
- Going to the gym late in the evening.
For a more detailed expose of these and other tips you can read the literature we recommended. Or do some extra research on your own.
Good night, sleep tight!
We hope that we’ve done a good job guiding your interest towards such a goal. First comes some climbing of the learning curve that would give you a better understanding of the sleep habits and then it’s time for a trial run of a method in combination with an appropriate feedback and analysis.
And how did you sleep this last night? How did you like our suggestions and would you apply any of them tonight? Of course, you can share with us some of your tricks to work out a good sleep?
Thank you and see you soon!
One thought on “The power of sleep – how to set goals for better rest”
Sleep is such an important area of life. Important to optimise the quality and quantity. A ‘clean’ lifestyle leads to less sleep required which frees up more hours to channel towards achievement of goals. Even 1 hour less spent in bed per day amounts to over 15 extra days to spend on your goals.