Dr. Mark Brown's Sleep Challenge
I am going to challenge you to prove to yourself that sleep really is important to good health and well-being. I ask for 1 week of your life, Sunday through Friday. Follow these 10 recommendations and if you are not better rested, more productive, in a better mood, and feeling better in general by the weekend I want to hear about it. Really. Send me an email or letter to let me know what didn’t work. If you follow my suggestions I am confident you will understand the power of sleep.
- Prepare for bed every night thoughtfully. Make sure that you have time to wind down for bed every night this week. No last minute disruptions. When it is time to sleep, start getting ready and go!
- Follow the Eight Hour Rule. Every night, go to bed AT LEAST 8 hours before your alarm clock is set to go off. Don’t worry this week about what you are missing on TV. Record it and watch on the weekend if you must!
- Be cozy in your bed. Make sure that your mattress is comfortable, the sheets are clean, the pillows are fluffed, and your PJs are pressed.
- Your bed is sacred ground. This is your oasis from the stresses of the day. Sleep and sex and the only 2 activities allowed. Make a conscious effort to leave the day behind before you get ready to sleep.
- Keep the room as cool or as warm as you like it. Find the temperature that is conducive to your sleep and set it. Let your bed partner adjust to your temperature this week if they need to.
- Nap wisely. No naps late in the day. If you catch a little shut-eye, do it before 3 PM and make it short (less than 30 minutes).
- Eat smart. Have the last meal of your day at least two hours before bedtime. Going to bed with a stomach full of food is a recipe for indigestion and Insomnia.
- Exercise at the right time: early in the day. Exercising within an hour of bedtime can be stimulating, not relaxing.
- Caffeinate early (if you must). Caffeine is a stimulant. Avoid having it after 3 PM.
- Drink early (if you so choose). While alcohol makes you sleepy, it also interferes with healthy, regular sleep cycles. No alcohol after dinner. Water is your friend before bed.
Follow these 10 steps every night Sunday through Friday. By Saturday morning, you will be better rested. Honest. And as a result, you will perform better at home and at work and be in a better mood.
When you prioritize sleep, you will be happier, healthier and more productive. It just happens. If you do this Challenge and DO NOT feel better, there is likely more to your sleep problem than not taking care of yourself. Talk to your primary care doctor to make sure that there are no health problems looming that impact sleep.
Mark T. Brown, MD, FACS
Reprinted by permission from Mark T. Brown, MD from Smarter Sleep, Clear Answers, Science Based Solutions, Healthier Sleep. Old Wives Tales Publishing, 2015.