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posted on November 5, 2018

Jocko Willink, a decorated Navy Seal turned Jiu-jitsu instructor and podcaster, has a saying- DISCIPLINE IS FREEDOM. Personally, this didn’t sit well with me when I first heard it. I rejected it, which in my experience usually means it’s worth exploring.


Consider setting a goal and failing. Any number of factors could have contributed to that, but typically lack of discipline can be to blame in almost every case. So wouldn’t FREEDOM come from setting goals and succeeding? That feels pretty ‘freeing’ knowing that you have the ability to set your sights on a goal and through your own discipline in actions accomplish that goal. I have the FREEDOM to accomplish whatever goal I set for myself. So, in this case, I was wrong. And I accepted that discipline does, in fact, equal freedom.


Why a nighttime routine?


Setting a routine for yourself does a number of things:

  1. Takes stress out of planning
  2. Takes mental energy out of ‘what else do I need to do”
  3. Removes some potential unexpected’s the next day or later in the week
  4. Let’s you focus on achieving a goal through daily, manageable tasks


By getting into some good habits in that 1-2 hour block before going to bed, it will allow you to get MORE SLEEP and BETTER QUALITY SLEEP. Which, in turn, will help your body regulate your hormones so you can lose fat or build muscle more efficiently. It will also make waking up easier.


How should you set up a routine?


Work backwards. What time do you need to wake up? 6am? Great- that means we’re going to bed at 10pm. That’s a non negotiable. If you’re not getting eight hours of sleep, you’re wrong. If you don’t agree, you can stop reading because nothing else you do will matter. If you say “I get six hours and feel just fine,” then you, my friend, have lowered your baseline for ‘feel good’ and don’t remember what GOOD actually feels like. Have I made my point?


I recognize going from a regular six hours of sleep to eight may not be manageable ‘overnight,’ pun intended. But starting at six hours and adding in a half hour of sleep each week can get you to eight in a month…with DISCIPLINE.


Reduce screen time. About an hour before bed we want to put down all of our electronics. Blue light emitted from TVs, cell phones, and tablets signals to your body that it should not produce melatonin (see sleepy time hormone). So get all of those emails done, or better yet wait until tomorrow. But it can’t wait! Yes, it can. There will always be more work. And that company you work for will replace you in a week if you drop dead. You and you alone are responsible for your health. Also, no Instagram, or Facebook, or funny dog videos on youtube.


Hot shower. This is an easy one. A drop in body temperature signals to your body that it’s bed time. So a hot shower followed by a quick cooling off period, either naturally if your house is cool enough or in front of a fan for some air flow. Most experts agree on this, and my personal experience leads me to believe the same. But, like anything else, you’ll have to experiment for yourself.


Other tips:
Avoid caffeine after 5pm.
Avoid a late high-intensity workout after 8pm.
Avoid hydrating after 9pm.


For an example, here is my nighttime routine:


6-7pm Cook and eat dinner, feed the dogs
7-8pm Clean up and let the dogs out, including some training for the puppies
8-9pm Play with the dogs, TV (this is MY time for the day. I try to avoid work if possible)
9-10pm Snack, let the dogs out, prep food for the next day
10pm Dogs in the crate
My routine begins…
15 min Shower
5 min Stretch in the shower, great for stress and tension relief
10 min Get pretty- brush my teeth, my hair, lotion, nose strip, clean my cpap
10 min Clothes ready for the next day including work clothes and training clothes
10 min Whisper sweet nothings into Odi’s ear (my oldest dog who sleeps with me)
11 pm Lights out, CPAP on, ready for a 7am puppy alarm


*I do fail sometimes. I get to sleep too late because I got home late, the dogs were being a pain, I spaced out scrolling through Instagram- whatever the excuse is, it sucks. But I get right back into my routine the next night. Find your discipline.


Start small. Add steps to make your routine manageable, and remember the best routine is one you’ll stick to. Just make an effort to make it healthier. I recognize having children can make this tougher, so consider trading off duties with your partner when possible, or sacrificing your ME-TIME for more time with your head on the pillow.

**CPAP. It is a Continuous Positive Air Pressure machine that keeps my airways open while I breathe (see fat neck syndrome). They’re relatively common and using one has changed my life. My sleep quality is a million times better. So if you have a good routine but still don’t feel rested, please get a sleep study. It can add years to your life.


Your run of the mill articles via google search, painstakingly put together by me, to back my wild claims…


Men’s Health, shower before bed: https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19541192/shower-before-bed/


“Health”: https://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20462696,00.html?


Care2Healthy Living: https://www.care2.com/greenliving/stop-doing-these-things-before-sleep.html


CPAP: https://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/cpap-therapy/


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