Go to sleep, change your life.

Not your basic sleep hacks. 5 minute read.

Sleep is the most important aspect of health and wellness, yet is incredibly undervalued. If it’s not critical to our existence, why haven’t we evolved out of it? I spent the majority of my life as an over-caffeinated insomniac with a I’ll-sleep-when-I’m-dead and always-max-out mindset.

I believed I was one of those rare humans who didn’t need a lot of sleep to perform.

Spoiler alert: I’m not that special.

I worked out ALL the time and my body did not adapt (i.e., never built noticeable muscle or saw major improvements in my fitness). I stayed out late on the weekends and many times, overdid it on the alcohol. Mentally, I experienced frequent anxiety, irritability, and mental fog. But I was thin, so obviously I was healthy…

I was tired, so I drank more coffee, which then inhibited my sleep at night and round and round she goes.

So how did the girl who never slept turn into a sleep-oholic?

Here are the biggest learnings from my journey to better sleep and ultimately a better life:

1. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO GET ON TRACK.

It’s true that you can’t turn back time and make up for lost zzzs, however; it’s never too late to change your thoughts, perceptions, and habits around sleep. All it takes is a few nights of good shut eye to put you back on the right track.

When setting any goal, you want find intrinsic motivation. A real WHY behind changing this behavior.

So ask yourself, “why am I not prioritizing this? and why do I want to sleep better?”.

Here’s a list of potential why’s:

  1. fights chronic disease
  2. prevents and fights cancer
  3. prevents neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimers)
  4. rock solid immune system
  5. improves memory and learning
  6. yields creative utilization of learning memories
  7. recalibrates blood pressure
  8. improves mental health and trauma processing
  9. emotional regulation
  10. reduces anxiety

And on and on and on….

When we have an emotional connection to a goal, we are more likely to see it through.

My why? Establishing good boundaries with myself and the prevention of disease. I stay in tune with which habits make me feel my best. Those results then motivate me to do those things more (also know as, motivation) and I put a lot of effort into a creating a healthy lifestyle so why would I ignore the most critical component?

2. NOW THAT YOU’RE ON TRACK, MAYBE YOU SHOULD TRACK.

Sleep trackers aren’t necessary but they can help shift your perception around sleep. You might think you’re not sleeping at all, but the data reveals you’re much closer to closing the sleep gap than you thought. On the contrary, you could think you’re a sleep champ and find out you’re getting very little SWS or lacking in REM.

Humans are pretty bad at self-estimating. “I was up all night” could really be you were up for 45 minutes tossing and turning. It’s no secret that I love my whoop for many reasons, but the most valuable information I gather is around my sleep. Every morning I check my sleep performance and %ages spent in each sleep stage. (more on this another time)

SLEEP STAGES. Each are vital in their own ways.

3. THINGS YOU CAN CONTROL.

Ok, here’s the fun stuff…

Don’t underestimate the associations you make between your bed, bedroom, and sleep.

THE GOLDEN RULE: YOUR BED AND BEDROOM ARE ONLY TO BE USED FOR SLEEP AND SEX.

DO NOT:

  • Work in your bed
  • Be on your phone in your bed (shouldn’t even be in your room)
  • Eat in your bed (ew)
  • Watch tv in your bed (you have enough screen time, you’re fine)

I do not touch my bed during the day except to make it, but I’m also single so there’s that… 🙂

Only get in your bed when you are tired/sleepy and only after you have completed your bedtime routine.

Now, since we don’t want any association between wakefulness and your bed, that means getting out of your bed when you can’t sleep. If you are in the early stages of retraining your sleep habits, stick to the 20 / 20 rule. If you are awake in your bed for more than 2o minutes, get out of it. Avoid stimulation/light (*cough* your phone) and remove yourself from your bed for 15-20 minutes before attempting sleep again.

DO:

  • Breathing techniques (inhale 4- hold 4- exhale 4)
  • Reading
  • Journaling
  • Mediation

SET THE MOOD

Your bedroom should be a minimalist vibe. My bedroom houses zero technology, not even a clock. It also doesn’t have trinkets, clutter, or bright colors on the walls. It’s a calming space that I look forward to retreating to each night. TGIB.

Gradually dimming the lights to mimic the sun setting and lowering the temperature to 60-67 degrees, 1-2 hrs before bed is key to cueing your brain that it is time to sleep (ya know, instead of paying for melatonin.) Also, try to keep your room as dark and quiet as possible with blackout shades and/or ear plugs.

Sub-Zero temperatures when I sleep is my love language.

CHOOSE YOUR ROUTINE

I’m not going to go into what my bedtime routine looks like because it probably won’t be something you can stick to since we all lead very different lives.

Respect yourself enough to establish a routine at night that works best for YOU.

Some of us might not have an hour to wind down but there’s a good chance you have 30-45 minutes. If you don’t, go back to your why. Why don’t you have 45 minutes to set your body up for the best night of repair as possible? And what changes do you need to make to get that time back?

It matters less what the routine looks like and more about whether you can actually stick to it. The more predictable you are, the better your body runs.

We’re so over the “8 hrs a night rule”. More important than the total number of hours you sleep, is the consistency of your bedtime and wake time. Just like your bedtime routine, your sleep schedule should reflect one that works best for you and remain the same on weekdays AND weekends. If you’re sleeping in for 2 hours on Sunday, you basically just switched time zones and your body is going to experience stress as a result. When it’s fighting stress, it has less resources to put towards other things like fighting viruses, creativity, muscle repair and growth, athletic performance etc.

Data from Whoop showing my bed time and wake time; the bars almost line up!

These behavioral changes have the MOST evidence-based practice supporting their efficacy- way more than any supplement. Behavioral adjustments are not a quick fix. Hence the reason why most Americans do not sleep or address their sleep habits. But if you’re reading this, there’s a chance you’re a part of my team and you know we don’t ever take the path of least resistance.

Humans are so quick to create lifestyles that run us into the ground and don’t prioritize restorative sleep and recovery habits. Our baseline shifts to a new normal and we forget what it feels like to be ACTUALLY running optimally.

So here’s the thing, we all have a million excuses for why we can’t sleep. I had them, too. A big part of my journey in health and wellness has been around boundaries and self-respect. When I started respecting myself enough to prioritize sleep, every aspect of my life improved.

Go the f to sleep.

4. EXTRA CREDIT

The Online Sleep Coach Nick Lambe’s IG

“Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker a fascinating read.

An informative listen on the correlation between sleep and Alzheimers Disease.

Thinking about a Whoop? Here’s $30 off your membership.

The more you know… ❤

Questions about sleep? Drop them below.

5 tips for cold-weather runs

Temperatures are dropping but the pavement still calls! As a year-round runner in Connecticut, I’ve learned how to battle all the elements. So bundle up, but not too much, and let’s cover some ground.

1. Dress code

Before hitting the closet check the outdoor temp. You’ll want to dress for 12-15 degrees warmer than the weather outside. Consider the wind but even when it’s 40 degrees, you should be fine with one layer.

2. Coat check

A windproof and waterproof jacket is a WISE (and necessary IMO) investment. You’ll only need one and if it’s the right brand, it will last you for years. Down jackets will almost always be too warm for when you are active, so look for a technical shell that’s lined with fleece (ventilation is key!).

I love the lululemon Cross Chill Jacket. In true fashion, lululemon decked it out with features you never knew you needed (hidden phone sleeve, watch hole for time checks, and thumbholes).

*disclaimer: I am a lululemon ambassador but I’ve been wearing their gear for running, exclusively, since 2008. My original windproof jacket from them is 10 years old and looks brand new.

3. Hat trick

This is an obvious one, but an earwarmer can be a life saver on those start-out-cold-then-gets-hot-real-quick days. I prefer these over a full-blown hat because of ventilation and storage. When I warm up, I can stuff it in my pocket, forget it’s there and then spend a whole bunch of time looking for it later. I really only whip out the hats when its below 30 degrees.

Here’s my favorite from lululemon (shocker). It’s water-repellent, brushed with fleece, has reflective details, and an opening to thread your ponytail through.

4. Stand out

We’re not working with a whole lot of daylight here so grabbing a reflective vest is a good idea. Also, these days people are wildly distracted without the weather impacting them, so better to stand out than be sorry. You’ll want one with minimal coverage but one that amps up your safety.

Here’s the one I use by Amphipod.

5. Head to toe

The right running socks are very underrated. Look for socks that are engineered for movement. In the colder months, grab a thicker sock for warmth and ones that come up over your ankles. I’ve been running in feetures for 10+ years and they are instrumental in blister prevention and supporting my super high arch. Plus, they last forever.

My picks:

Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab

Elite Light Cushion Mini Crew

Becoming bulletproof…

Opening by Eric Pellini (coach, friend, and trainer)

“Adapt Do Repeat” When you hear those words it immediately makes you think.  You like the sound of it, but maybe you’re not sure why.  It’s catchy, easy to remember and really simple.

….then it starts to make sense.

This simple phrase explains what humans have been doing for centuries- EVOLVING. Regardless of your scientific or religious belief, we’ve gotten to where we are by adapting, doing and repeating that process.

In light of our evolution, let’s talk about a mindset that can help you push through resistance, make the most of change and yield your bulletproof self.


Mindset

I’ll take it from here 🙂 I receive a lot of positive feedback for the “hard work” I put in at the gym. But in reality, that is truly just a part of who I am (remember that, “you do what you are” thing). It doesn’t feel like work.

So, I wanted to speak to something that is, in actuality, incredibly difficult for me: BOUNDARIES. One could argue that the key to a happy life is the result of having good boundaries. But why are boundaries so difficult to establish?

Because boundaries prompt the question, “What am I worth?” and require actions that reflect the degree to which you perceive your value.

Recognizing what you need challenges you to play big and not shrink yourself to appease others. It can be paralyzing to ask for what we need because we can be perceived as needy or weak (we think…). But the highest form of strength and the biggest driver of inner peace comes from your ability to stay true to who you are and be vulnerable. How empowering is it to not only find your ground, but stand firm in it? Some of us are lucky enough to get to this point, quickly.

For me, it’s been the single greatest determiner in my growth.

I think one of the worst feelings is finding yourself in a space of receiving less than you deserve. It kick starts your brain to bargain and justify why this situation is “fine”. It’s easier to stick to complacency and keep your needs at bay, but when you aren’t staying true to YOU how can you show up authentically in any relationship (not just romantic).

Life transformed for me when my self-narrative changed; when I shifted from telling myself “I’m worth it,” to truly believing it. It took years to get here and my voice still falters at the point of expressing what I need- but self growth isn’t finite. I’m grateful for the tough times and the struggles I have endured. They shook me to my core and forced me to take responsibility for what needed to change in my life.

Inner mantra:  I can keep doing what I’ve been doing, or I can stop.

Actionable step: Identify one need of yours that isn’t being met. Take a deep breath. Ask for it.  

FYI: What you allow, is what will continue.