If I told you that I could boost your energy levels, improve cognitive function and mental clarity, improve learning and memory retention while also prolonging your life and melting body fat, all by simply improving your sleep, would you believe me?
Well you should.
And who am I to tell you this?
My name is Alex Fergus I am a sleep coach to some of Australia top executives. I am also the founder of the Sound Asleep in 21 Nights Course.
But enough about me, let's get back to this massive claim I just made.
You see, improved sleep quality has been shown numerous times to improve all these things plus a lot more (1).
It’s all good and well knowing this, but if you’re thinking that it’s just not possible for you – maybe you’re a horrible sleeper, maybe you’re dependent on sleep drugs or alcohol to fall asleep, maybe you have tried all the natural sleep tricks but nothing works…
You wake up every morning feeling exhausted; craving for a few extra minutes of sleep, instead you slam the coffees and get on with your day promising yourself to get to bed later that night.
When that time comes around, of course you’re so frazzled and wired you resort back to old habits or just give up and watch some meaningless TV, whilst flick through facebook.
You may justify this by thinking “I can sleep when I’m dead” Or maybe you really WANT to improve your sleep but you just don’t know how. Every tip you’ve heard doesn’t work.
Well I have built something that will literally change your life. It will help you to
Imagine a time when you get into bed at the end of a productive day, you read a few pages of a novel and then feel your eyes becoming heavy. You put down the book, kiss your loved one goodnight, switch off the light and close your eyes. Within seconds you’re drifting off into a deep sleep.
8 hours later, you wake naturally, 10 minutes before your alarm. You notice the room is slightly brighter as the sun starts to rise, you feel refreshed and energized and you realize that you don’t recall waking at any point throughout the night.
You don’t want to wake your partner, so you disable your alarm clock and get up with a spring in your step with an extra 10 minutes in your morning to watch the sun rise over the hills.
How good does that sound? No this isn’t something out of a movie, nor is it a journal entry from a tropical holiday escape. This is what you can and SHOULD be experiencing every single morning.
This is how we are meant to sleep, and I am going to show you how you can get to this stage of deep, restorative, restful sleep.
I used to be a terrible sleeper. I would joke with my clients that I needed to go on a sleeping holiday. You see I was a personal trainer – I loved health and fitness, and I was all about physical performance.
I competed at top levels in various sports and won a national bodybuilding competition as a natural athlete in my first year. I loved being healthy and fit and I shared this passion with my clients.
But there was a downside to all of this – my hard charging attitude destroyed my health. It was scary – I had some of Sydney’s top businessmen coming to me for training advice. I knew how to get people strong but I didn’t know much about health.
I was a 25 year old athlete who had no energy, zero libido, was addicted to coffee – drinking 8 cups a day, and felt like rubbish.
Plus I couldn’t sleep.
I would long for my bed all day and then when I finally got into bed late that night I would be so alert and frazzled that I couldn’t sleep.
Great on the outside - but I was a sleep deprived wreck on the inside.
This would frustrate me to no end. I knew I needed sleep, I craved sleep all day, now I was trying to sleep and I couldn’t.
I also knew I had to get up early in the morning for client sessions, so every minute spent looking at the ceiling was a minute I could have been sleeping.
This happened every night for far too long. Occasionally I would catch up on a few hours come the weekend, but for a few years I was in a chronic state of sleep deprivation.
That all changed 7 years ago.. Today I sleep like a baby every night. A quick look at my Oura Ring Data and you will soon have sleep envy!
If I wake more than twice during the night it’s a horrible sleep my my standards. And nowadays I am seen as a health coach instead of a personal trainer – with people of all demographics coming to me for health and SLEEP advice.
A typical nights sleep - I sleep like a baby according to my extremely accurate Oura Ring Sleep Wearable.
I have helped countless individuals look and feel amazing simply by helping them sleep better with my Sound Asleep course.
I even get called into some of the countries top corporations to do lectures on how to boost their staffs sleep.
So what happened, how did I go from being this sleep deprived gym junkie to a sleeping beauty health coach helping individuals all across with the world with my Sound Alseep course?
Simple – I learnt how and why the body sleeps and worked backwards from there.
I figured out what the body needs and expects for a good night sleep and ensured that
I provided all these materials under the right conditions.
The body takes over from there.
We humans often think we can outsmart nature, our health and our bodies.
And yes we have made some amazing advancements in drugs and technology, but here’s a secret for you when it comes to optimal sleep and health – work WITH the body instead of trying to trick it into doing what we want.
For example, our body is the best pharmacy in the world – our gut and brain create every hormone and neurotransmitter required for health, wellness and happiness.
Instead of supplementing or medicating with synthetic materials let the body make its own – plus there are no side effects that way (or expensive prescriptions!)
Like wise with sleep, it’s important to remember that our bodies actually WANT to sleep.
For some of you listening this may be hard to believe especially if you are used to staring at the ceiling for hours on end every night!
But it’s true, we literally cannot survive without sleep and the body has our health and wellness in its best interest.
Our bodies respond to cues in our environment – it responds to the food we eat, the activity we do, the light and sound we are exposed to and the thoughts we have.
By worrying about work deadlines, or watching a thrilling movie before bed or even by staring at a brightly lit smartphone prior to sleep we are telling our body to be stressed, be on edge, or that the sun is out and it’s not time for sleep yet.
Remember, we adapt to our environment.
Now if you’re thinking ‘well I can’t do anything about my deadlines’ or ‘I enjoy reading before bed’ then do not worry, as I have solutions to all of these concerns and I will address them shortly.
But first, I want to share the single most important piece of knowledge that will change the way you view sleep and your sleep issues. If you never read or watch any of my material again, at least read this as what I am about to teach you will have a profound effect on your sleep and health.
Our bodies run on cycles, cycles that feed off cues from the environment that I mentioned earlier. Now the most important cycle for sleep is our circadian rhythm. This is our daily wake/sleep cycle.
Our circadian rhythm is a daily cycle
The body expects a particular pattern when it comes to this sleep/wake cycle. Unfortunately, in todays modern world it’s very easy to break this cycle and leave a messed up circadian rhythm.
What would the symptoms of a misaligned circadian rhythm look like?
The symptoms of jet lag are closely matched to the symptoms on the list I just explained.
Coincidence? No – Jet lag arises from traveling across time zones leaving the body with a misaligned circadian rhythm.
You arrive to your destination and it’s sunny, warm and the middle of the day – but your body thinks it’s the middle of the night - cold, dark and deep asleep.
Jet Lag = Misaligned Circadian Rhythm?
That misalignment throws your hormonal cycles out and leaves you in a sub optimal state.
By having a broken circadian rhythm, you are literally in a mild state of jet lag. Every single day.
But like jet lag, the body adapts and you can fall back into a hopefully healthy sleep/wake routine. How does our circadian rhythm cycle impact our energy levels throughout the day and how well we sleep?
To understand this, we need to look at the hormones melatonin and cortisol.
Melatonin – as you no doubt know – is our ‘sleep hormone’ – it helps us wind down, feel sleepy and of course keep us sleeping throughout the night. Melatonin is also a very powerful antioxidant – this is why after a few nights of bad sleep you’re more likely to catch the bug going around in your workplace.
Cortisol – is commonly regarded as our stress hormone. Too much cortisol release leads to weight gain, inflammation, poor health and even things like diabetes and cancer. It also suppresses other hormones like testosterone. But cortisol isn’t all bad, in fact it’s needed for normal functioning – it’s the morning cortisol release that helps us get out of bed in the morning.
Now the key thing about these two hormones is that they oppose each other. If cortisol is up, melatonin is down, if melatonin is up, cortisol should be done.
Melatonin & Cortisol
This back and forth, push and pull from these two hormones plays a pivotal role in determining our circadian rhythm and in turn how well we will sleep that night.
You see, cortisol levels should naturally be higher in the morning – waking us up and getting us out of bed, then they slowly drop off during the day until the evening. At this point, melatonin levels rise – increasing our need to wind down, relax and of course sleep.
If this balance is broken, we run into trouble.
For example, if you are working late, or watching an intense movie right before bed, or even staring at a brightly lit screen right before you attempt to sleep, you literally create a stress response – a stress response that creates a surge of cortisol in the body.
This stress responses implies that something is wrong – if you put your ancestral hat on for a moment, stress responses meant life and death – i.e a tiger was close by, or we were starved of food or in a dangerous situation – all these scenarios call for heightened awareness, extra energy and increased heart rate & blood flow. Of course, the last thing you would want to do in a stressful scenario is sleep, so melatonin is suppressed – there goes any sleepiness feeling.
Now in modern life we set off this stress response by worrying about work the next day, eating bad food or even staring at a bright screen before bed!
So at a time when cortisol should be low and melatonin should be high, we have the opposite effect. Good luck trying to sleep in this hormonal mess!
Broken Cortisol patterns = no sleep
But it gets worse.
Given this flipped cortisol/melatonin profile late at night, we cannot sleep – so we either stay up all night until eventually the body shuts down out of sheer exhaustion OR we trick the body into sleeping by popping drugs or pills that aim to clam us into a state of bliss..
We eventually get some sleep.
A few hours later however, we are awoken from a screaming alarm clock. At this time your cortisol has finally dropped off and your melatonin is helping you catchup on lost sleep, but life is calling so you have to get up. Now your cortisol/melatonin balance is off again.
Rather than having a nice surge of natural stimulant in the form of cortisol – you have suppressed cortisol function and the sleepy/cozy hormone melatonin surging through the body.
Again we solider on and look for external aids to help out – we jump in the shower, slam down coffee and sugar, and go to a gym with bright lights, loud music and someone screaming at us as if a tiger was chasing us.
Coffee, sugar and intense training - often used to stimulate our wakefulness
I hope this all makes sense, but in a nutshell, a broken circadian rhythm is responsible for majority of sleeping issues.
Fix your circadian rhythm and you will fix your sleep. I promise. This is what I do for a living remember!
Now if you’re thinking ‘well this all sounds great Alex but I’m different, I have to work late, I have to look at bright screens right before bed, I have busy a life that keeps me stressed etc
Don’t worry, I have heard it all before and I have plenty of workarounds.
Remember, my client base is predominately business executives, include some of Australia's top CEO's and executives.
Everything from property developers to fund managers to serial entrepreneurs – these guys and girls are stressed and busy. Not only that, they usually have young families and athletic performance goals that result in additional stress.
Yet despite all of this I still manage to help them improve their sleep and in turn their health, vitally, cognitive function and physical performance all increase. Making them more efficient and productive with their time and as a result they don’t need to do as many late nighters and have more time to spend on their hobbies or with their family.
Sleep is the single most important thing we can do for improved health, energy and appearance, if you make half the progress as average Joe you will still see a profound boost in your sleep quality and how you look and feel.
What about the bright screens before bed? Again I know we all love our technology, and I know giving this up for a better nights sleep is not going to happen. But do not worry, I have a solution that allows you to continue reading your phone or kindle or even your laptop in bed without a resulting cortisol spike and suppression of melatonin.
But you’ll have to wait for my next blog article for that tip!
Speaking of which, I do have another article that I will be sending out to you in a few days.
In that article I’ll explain how you can use your technology late at night without negatively impacting your sleep, I will also show you my top 2 tips for boosting sleep at night. If you haven't already subscribed to receive my sleep email tips, be sure to to that now. There is a sign up box below.
If you implement these two tips you may find all your sleep troubles are resolved immediately. They are that powerful, and these are tips that you won’t hear in a typical sleep blog or from your doctor!
Not only that, but I’ll address any questions or concerns you may have about the Sound Asleep course. So if you have any questions, comments or concerns please post them in the comment box below so I can read them before hand. And remember to enter your email address in the sign up box if you haven't already.
Finally, if you found the content in this article to be beneficial or you just want to say hi, leave a comment in the box below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.
Otherwise I’ll speak to you in a few days time. Remember to keep an eye on your email inbox for a notification of when my next article is up!
This blog post was written by Alex Fergus. Alex is a ISSN Sports Nutrition Specialist, Fitness Professional and certified Superhuman Coach who continues to expand his knowledge base and help people across the world with their health and wellness. Alex is recognized as the National Record Holder in Powerlifting and Indoor Rowing and has earned the title of the Australian National Natural Bodybuilding Champion. Having worked as a health coach and personal trainer for over a decade, Alex now researches all things health and wellness and shares his findings on this blog. Learn more about Alex's Credentials HERE.
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