From: The Energy Project
- Go to bed earlier – and at a set time. Sounds obvious right? The problem is there’s no alternative. You’re already waking up at the latest possible time you think is acceptable. If you don’t ritualize a specific bedtime, you’ll end up finding ways to stay up later, just the way you do now. Creating a wind-down routine can help you fall asleep more easily, especially as you adjust to your new schedule. Try implementing a routine around drinking a cup of herbal tea, listening to music, reading a dull book, or taking a bath – anything that helps you truly relax.
- Take a nap. Especially in periods of high demand, try to find time for a 10 or 20-minute catnap in the middle of the day on weekdays. Taking a short nap between 1 and 3 p.m., especially on days when you’ve worked intensely in the morning, will have a remarkable impact on your ability to focus later in the afternoon. Alternatively, simply leaning back in your chair with your eyes closed and taking deep breaths can have a significant impact on your energy.
- Track your sleep. Still struggling to get enough sleep? The Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Diary will help you understand what may be getting in the way. Log when you go to bed and when you wake up, as well as your naps, moods, medications, exercise, caffeine intake, and bedtime rituals. By the end of a week of truly logging your sleep with this diary, you should be able to see trends that will allow you to optimize your routine. If you’ve changed your routine and you’re finding yourself lying in bed awake for no obvious reason, give yourself time. Your body is used to a certain schedule, and it may be a little while before it readjusts. Try taking deep breaths, counting, or listening to music to allow yourself to really relax.
- Leave yourself time to sleep for 8 hours per night – that means you’re in bed, ready to go to sleep by 10 if you need to be awake at 6. If possible, use an alarm clock that wakes you up gently by monitoring your sleep cycles (I like activity bracelets that wakes you up by vibrating on your wrist like theJawbone Up24 or the app Sleep Cycle for this purpose).
- Limit your exposure to blue light by using orange glasses or installing apps like F.lux on your computer. Chris has an excellent article about this topic if you want to learn more about blue light.
- Eat on a regular basis and don’t go too long without meals – if you’re worried about your stress level or think you might already have adrenal fatigue, I’d highly caution you against skipping breakfast (or any meal, for that matter) regularly. Getting a high protein breakfast in the morning stabilizes your blood sugar throughout the day, which in turn helps to keep your HPA axis functioning appropriately.
- Don’t skimp on healthy carbohydrates like fruit and starchy tubers if you’re worried about your adrenal health, especially if you’re also engaging in high intensity exercise. A moderate carbohydrate diet is best for those with high stress levels or recovering from adrenal fatigue.
- When you do eat carbohydrates, combine them with protein and fat to slow absorption and stabilize your blood sugar.
- Start a mind-body activity practice like meditation or yoga to reduce mental and emotional stress. The benefits of implementing a stress management practice grow over time, so the sooner you start, the better!
- Avoid smartphones and devices at night. But they’re great when you’re dealing with jet lag.
- A good nightly routine is key. No alcohol before bed, think positive thoughts and play the alphabet game.
- Naps are awesome. Just keep them under 30 minutes. Drink a cup of coffee before you lay down.
- Sleeping in two chunks is natural. Get up and do something for a little while and then go back to bed.
- Remember the “90 minute rule.” Think about when you need to be up and count back in increments of 90 minutes so you wake up sharp.
- Set an alarm to remind you when to go to bed