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How to Get Better Sleep, Part 1

There are Four Pillars that make up the SEMM Model of Health and Fitness: Sleep, Eat, Move, and Manage. Each are important and they all inform and influence one another.

Sleep is the one pillar that you cannot escape from for more than a few days. All the others, even eating, you can neglect for weeks or even years. So from a purely biological perspective, sleep is the most important pillar for restoration. Unfortunately in today’s culture, running on fumes is celebrated as a badge of honor.

It is important that we consistently communicate the impact of sleep. This is not only a win for you in terms of sustainable progress, but it increases your value to those you are a role model for. The more effectively we can teach you to become self-sufficient in each pillar, the more impact you can have in your everyday life!

To that end, the first step to adding the sleep pillar to your life is simply to understand what it is, it’s function, and what the beacon of great sleep looks like.

Step 1: Definitions

What is sleep?

Sleep is a necessary, recurring biological function that is restorative in nature. It’s characterized by altered consciousness, inhibited muscle function, sensory activity, and reduced reactivity to stimuli. Additionally, the stages of sleep typically recur several hours every night, where the nervous system is relatively inactive, eyes are closed, and postural muscle are relaxed. In all of this you can hopefully make he connection that “passing out” is not sleep.

What is the function of sleep?

There are three main reasons for why we sleep:

  1. Sleep is for restoration – of the body’s systems, such as the immune, nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems. Think of this as time to “rest and digest.”
  2. Sleep is for cognitive improvement – assimilation of learned tasks, thoughts, and emotions happen during sleep. Information is also committed to long-term memory at this time.
  3. Sleep is for dreaming – I’m not Sigmund Freud so we will leave this one alone!

What is the beacon of great sleep?

When we say ‘beacon’, we are referring to the highest ideal of sleep. While few may get there given the structure of the world today, it doesn’t negate the importance of someone understanding this beacon and continuing to move forward in their journey to continually improve. As we’ve outlined above, sleep is a crucial pillar that can have a profoundly positive impact on each of the other pillars (eat, move, and manage) and therefore, the life of each human. Here is our beacon:

You should sleep –

  • With the moon and rise with the sun, waking naturally with no alarm
  • In a cool, dark room – temperature below 68° F or 20° C with no ambient light
  • On your back with your hands by your sides
  • Uninterrupted, waking with a clear head, feeling rested and pain-free
  • For seven to nine hours

The astute person will see that with the information outlined above, they are well equipped to opening new conversations with friends and family. These are the first steps to bringing more value to those you love.

In the following posts, we’ll detail: assessing and understanding the consequences of a lack of sleep and finally how to make decisions based on your personal circumstances and what you can do to positively affect this pillar.

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