The common wisdom is diet and exercise is the key to a long and healthy life. I think this is not entirely correct. The key is exercise and sleep. After getting a good night’s sleep, everything seems to work better. You are rested, you have more energy, and you are thinking clearer. The length and quality of your sleep plays a significant role in your productivity and quality of life. Little is known about sleep, but sleep allows the body to heal, and removes or diminishes many of the pains of life. It is actually stronger than any man made drug Americans like to take.
They say that as one ages, we sleep less. At 56 years, I am experiencing the opposite. When I was younger, I slept about 7 hours a night, and now I frequently log about 8 hours of sound sleep. I love it.
Here are some of the things that I do to make sure that I get as much good sleep as possible.
Modern life and productivity does not include much exercise or calories burned. Whenever I have the opportunity to burn calories, I do. On top of that, I run 5 miles at least 3 times a week. I believe it is a cycle of burning calories and then resting that creates a good rhythm for sleep.
Sometimes alcohol makes you sleep well but other times not. It certainly does not promote regular peaceful sleep. It is rare that I drink alcohol and when I do I make sure that i don’t have anything important the next day, because I want to make sure that I feel my best every day. Not because I am hung over, but I think that the alcohol affects my sleep.
One thing that I have learned in life is that there are not short cuts. And that includes your sleep. So many people think that they can take pills for sleep. In fact, I fell into that same trap because of all the international travel when I was younger. But I now know that sleeping pills do not promote healthy sleep. Perhaps more importantly, they can be down right dangerous and fatal.
Here is one last tip. I have learned that if you go to bed hungry, you can sleep much longer and with higher quality. In fact, whenever I fast, I sleep amazingly well. It is counter intuitive. You think that you can’t possibly sleep well while feeling pangs of hunger but believe me, it is great.
An old friend of mine, Jim Taylor, once told me that your intelligence changes every day. One must be aware of when your intelligence varies, and only make important decisions when you are feeling smart. I believe that the variation in intelligence is a function of the amount and quality of sleep you get.