Sleep well and live a successful life


Sleep well says coach Christine Hansen or you are sabotaging your self-discipline and success.

We all have goals and dreams. And most of us are aware that we need to take care of ourselves to some extent to be fit and healthy and strong enough to achieve them successfully. And you’d think that in a developed world like ours taking care of ourselves would be easier than ever. So why don’t we sleep well?

We are a lot more educated. We know which foods we should eat, how much we should exercise and, of course, we also know how much we should sleep.

There are countless wellness blogs on the internet sharing recipes and health tips. There are tracking apps for everything, sending you reminders, meal plans, exercise routines and guided meditations. It is all there at the push of a button.

And a lot of us pride ourselves in our self-discipline. We go to the gym at early dawn before work. We have a healthy organic meal for lunch and we proudly display our healthy lifestyle to the people around us.

Prioritizing how to sleep well though is an entirely different story.

We are so busy. And how do you squeeze a couple more hours into your day? Easy! You go to bed just a little bit later than you know you should.

But will you also get to sleep for a bit longer? Most of the time the answer to that question would be, no. And if you are a parent weekend lie-ins are out of the window too. Yet your choice of sacrificing that bit of sleep is understandable. Because you manage the next day! You manage to get up, go to work, do your job and go back home and hit replay for the next day.

But let me fill you in on something: You are making life a lot harder for yourself. Recent studies* have shown that a lack of optimal sleep influences your self-discipline. Let me explain.

During the study the researchers offered the candidates different foods. They had eight alternatives with a mix of healthy and unhealthy (but yummy) foods. On the days where the candidates were well rested they stuck to their guns and chose the healthy option. On days where they had suffered a lack of sleep they ate more calorie rich foods and more unhealthy options.
When questioned, participants agreed that due to reduced alertness they were more willing to eat food they would usually judge as unhealthy. So in the end, it demands a lot more effort on your part to stay strong and treat yourself and future goals in the correct manner. It doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman – both genders caved in a lot quicker when they were sleep deprived.

This is especially true for diet but also exercise regimens or anything that you might not find completely 100% enjoyable. What that means for you is that the bag of chips in the supermarket, which you probably wouldn’t even have noticed on well-rested days, is now looking a lot more attractive, even irresistible.

It means that you are much more likely to take shortcuts, and therefore sabotage your success. It doesn’t matter in which area. You could be training for a marathon and skip some sessions or working on that next promotion and start to procrastinate and don’t look over your report one more time to spot last minute errors.

Not getting enough sleep is manipulating you in stealth mode, because you are not even aware of it happening (which is another fun side effect of sleep deprivation).

Studies have shown that when you start daydreaming you catch yourself pretty quickly and get back to the task you were supposed to do. But when you are sleep-deprived, you don’t even notice drifting off and are wasting a lot more time.

So, similarly, you will not even be aware of how quickly you will cave in to your weaknesses after nights where you didn’t sleep well. You will stand in the way of achieving your goals for your diet, your work or your private life.

So now that you know what to look out for you can apply these simple tips to avoid falling into that pitfall and reach your goals a lot quicker and efficiently.

1) Set an alarm an hour before your bedtime. That way you have enough time to get ready for the next day without being stressed and are not surprised by how quickly the time has passed in the evening.

2) Get an accountability buddy for bedtime. Text a friend each time you are going to bed and get them to check in on you when they haven’t received your message at the time you agreed on.

3) Get a blue-light reduction extension on your computer.

F.Lux for example is an extension for Chrome that filters out artificial blue light so that your screen is not destroying your built-up of melatonin (the sleep hormone) as much. This means you can still get things done until shortly before your bedtime and have Nature help you fall asleep.

3) Remind yourself of the value of sleep by sticking a Post-it on your bathroom mirror. If you have goals you want to achieve, sleep is your most powerful ally. Don’t let it get in your way. Respect it and you will blossom.

4) Give yourself a reward each time you manage to go to bed on time. You can keep a chart and gift yourself a massage after a week of going to bed consistently.

5) Keep a journal to write down any negative or stressful thoughts that might come and haunt you in your sleep or at 3am. Getting the words out of your head is extremely powerful.


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