Today, I hope I put you to sleep. Sleep is key to unlocking so many things (dreams included) mentally and physically.

But sleep can be a blessing and a curse. It’s a natural performance booster and performance buster.  

One tired mental toughness myth is that the less sleep you need, the tougher you are. If you need more sleep the myth suggests that you are lazy or weak.  

The nice thing about this myth is that in can be fairly easy to dispel with simple facts.

FACT: The less sleep you get, the worse you perform. A lack of sleep negatively effects reaction times, endurance, stress tolerance, and mood. 

Ignoring the facts — or the main fact– means your performance will suffer.   

To function optimally, most people require 8-9 hours of sleep. In the deepest stages of sleep, our brains consolidate learning, heal, and recover–all things athlete need. In fact, high-performing and growing athletes may need to strive for nine hours of sleep every night.  

I could cover a lot on the topic of sleep and ways to help ensure you’re getting the proper amounts. Things like:

• The importance of routines and schedules
• No caffeine
• Shutting your phone off early
• Be sure you don’t get behind in your sleep
• Don’t take sleep aid medication (Ambien)

When you break it down, the formula for great sleep is simple, but not necessarily easy. The basics are things we usually ignore or view as unrealistic. And, as usual, the biggest obstacle in achieving great sleep comes back to our brains.

Yep, a brain problem.

Your thoughts, feelings, and body fight at night, keeping you awake.   

So, here are a few tricks to help avoid those late nights of tossing and turning due to your brain not being able to shut down and let you catch the Zs:

• Write down your stressors and mentally leave them there
• Take a hot shower or use a heating pad to relax and calm your body
• Turn on a fan or white noise maker to block out sound that may trigger a startle response 
• Don’t look at the time — it leads you to spiral about the number of hours you won’t get.  
• Take a few deep breathes. Focus on resting your eyes.
• Listen to bi-lateral music, music that opens the door between your thinking and feeling brain. It is engineered to calm and alternate sound between ears and it will help get you out of your head so you can relax, If you have Amazon or Spotify you can find it by searching Dr. David Grand, Dr. Jeffrey Thompson or search for emdr  bi-lateral music.

Remember sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. It can boost your performance or it can bust it–you can decide with the choices you make and what you believe.  

If you want to learn more watch this Ted Talk by Matt Walker.  https://www.ted.com/talks/matt_walker_sleep_is_your_superpower  

You can also read Sleep to Win and Sleep for Success by Dr James Maas and Haley A. Davis.