This month, we’re taking baby steps. A couple of months ago, I listened to a brilliant podcast that said what people really need is the baby steps approach. So, let me explain what this means. It’s all very well saying you’ve got to get an extra hour of sleep or radically transform your fitness routine. But most people know what they need to do, and need to understand the baby steps of getting there. So this week is about sleep; next week, mental health; the week after that, energy; the week after that, nutrition.
The Golden Hour
What I mean by “baby steps for sleep” is creating some time at the very end of the day, before you begin your bedtime routine. This is what I like to call the golden hour – though it doesn’t actually need to be an hour! It could be 10 minutes, but 30 is perfect. So, before you go and brush your teeth and get into bed, use this time to prepare yourself for sleep. Ideally, this means no more screen time, no checking your bank balance, or a last look at Instagram. It’s about focussing on getting your mind and body into as relaxed a state as you can. Don’t overthink it, either. Simply stay away from your phone, laptop, tv, dim the lighting, and use nice, calm movements.
Fight Or Flight VS Rest And Digest
You may remember me talking about being in a parasympathetic state before. To really get a deep, restorative sleep, we need to be relaxed. The parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) works to prepare both your mind and body for rest. It’s responsible for a number of bodily functions, such as slowing the heart rate and regulating body temperature. You’ve heard the phrase “fight or flight”, but what about “rest and digest”? The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) triggers your fight or flight response, and its activity increases during times of stress. Stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system balances this activity, helping you to wind down after a stressful day.
Activating your PSNS
There are a number of ways to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, including meditation, deep breathing and gentle stretching or exercise. These are all baby steps that you can take towards improving your sleep routine, and there is so much to play for. As a result, you’ll have better clarity of thought, cognitive performance, mood, energy and motivation.
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