Sleep is a no-brainer. No sleep, no brain anyone would want (zombies excepted)

I might have heard the dumbest thing in my life recently. Something like, “Did you know you lose a third of your life to sleeping!?! I can sleep when I’m dead.” Might I offer a reframe here? You’re not so much losing a third of your life to sleep as gaining a third of your life for rest and relaxation. Also, the whole “I can sleep when I’m dead” thing is really more of a self-fulfilling prophecy than a mantra to live by. To me, sleep is a no-brainer. No sleep, no brain — or at least no brain anyone but a zombie would want.

You know what saved my sleep habits? My kids. When they started school and I had to be up at 6:30am to get them ready I got tired way earlier in the evening. I still push it from time to time, but by hitting the hay between 11pm and midnight I still get almost 7 hours regularly. That’s way better than 4-5 hours and then trying to catch up. Which I am pretty sure you can’t do. Sleep isn’t like working overtime on the job. The best way to make it pay is by sticking to 7-8 hours a day. That does work out to a third of your life, but that’s also a third less time to make poor decisions! You know, like using your finger as a spoon to eat ranch dressing out of the bottle, or to “clean up” the sides of the blueberry pie dish. Do spoons even exist after midnight?

Did you know there are things you can do to get the sleep you need besides waiting for yourself to pass out from exhaustion? Or instead of cracking open that 40 pounder that somehow pours itself into your glass? Here’s the scoop:

Eat Earlier

I once dated a girl who would shop for all sorts of things in her sleep: elephant polish, peeled cucumbers, it was just so weird. Turns out she was also shopping for a new man, so ya, that was awkward.

A lot of the time she was sleep-shopping for groceries, and that made me hungry. This brings me to my first sleep tip: Don’t eat close to bedtime. Turns out it’s not just for weight reduction, but it can mess up your sleep. I would have thought that all that blood rushing from my brain to my stomach would help me get some Zs, but it can actually make for a fitful journey through Slumberland.

Sporty Shutdown

Ok, so this one caught me off guard. Did you know exercising before bed can keep you awake when it’s time to sleep!?! Wha…C’mon! All these rules around exercise make it so much tougher to fit in your jumping jack routine. That and if the gym really wanted you to exercise it would make the weights lighter, that’s just common sense. That being said, sleep seems the easiest way for guys to get healthy. We always talk about exercise, eating right, being a good person, walking the dog, having a firm handshake, when really the single biggest commitment we need to make to ourselves is to do nothing at all. Just close your eyes, get some sleep, and let your health journey begin. 

Dastardly Devices

My wife and I have always banned computers and TVs from our bedroom. We still have our phones in there, but only so we can set an alarm to wake up in the morning. The phones still work if the power goes out, after all. PRO TIP: if you and your partner wake up together, you better make sure to say hello to each other before checking social media or reading up on how the world will end today. It’ll make them feel appreciated, and what better way to demonstrate that appreciation than a little afternoon delight in the morning. I mean, the bed is already right there!

Sleep Survival

Last night was a rough night. I think I had about 2.5 hours of sleep. To be fair, it wasn’t insomnia — I have a tiny mob boss living with me who could give Tony Soprano a run for his money. I need my sleep and feel pretty miserable trying to operate on just a few hours. It seems like it wasn’t long ago that an all nighter wasn’t such a big deal. It’s hard getting older and realizing that it’s not so much beauty rest as it is survival rest. But here’s the secret: It’s ok to fail. You’re gonna miss out on sleep from time to time and feel like the south end of a northbound donkey. This journey starts with small steps, steady effort and, in the end, a third of your life spent sleeping wonderfully.

In case you missed it, Toby owes us 1,800 jumping jacks. Check out his first post where he reveals a noble plan to make good on his promise.

Stay tuned for Toby’s next post, and if you haven’t signed up to our Weekly Health Tips yet, do it today to follow him on his journey to better health.

About the Author

Toby Hargrave

Toby Hargrave is a B.C.-based film and TV actor, radio personality, and award-winning veteran of North America’s standup circuit. Described as a “happy Hagrid” owing to his resemblance to Harry Potter’s oversized pal, Toby often pokes fun at his “casual” approach to wellness. Behind the scenes, however, he wanted to live healthier, and that’s when his inspiring Don’t Change Much journey began.

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Mike Taylor
February 18, 2020

Thanks Toby! I really appreciate the tips and tricks. I have to force myself to not eat later at night. I often throw on a podcast and eat 10-30 crackers or something dumb. Just reading this reminds me we can all try a bit harder.

Brenda Louise Peters
February 19, 2020

I have not been able to sleep more than 3-4 hours a night since my daughter was born , due to her health condition . She is better now. And that was 30 years ago. I finally asked my doctor for help 😉.