SLEEP. I’ll be honest, last week, I was just not having it. There’s a myriad of factors that influence the sleep we get. Food and diet, our busy minds worrying about things, a stressful situation in life, a thunderstorm outdoors, physical/mental pain, or excitement and happy anticipation for an upcoming event. For whatever reason, sleep can be disrupted far too easily. I was born a light sleeper. Even as a little girl, I had a hard time falling asleep and remaining asleep. Warm glasses of milk, army crawling on the floor to my mom’s side of the bed, I would nag for attention, but what I wanted the most, were those magic powers to fall asleep.
Now, throughout adulthood, my sleep has its ups and downs. Sometimes I settle into bed, tired as can be, and 15 minutes in, my brain thinks of one ingredient, then another, then an entire recipe, and before I know it I’m quickly writing it down. Soon enough, half the night is gone writing out my ideas and plans. Other times, I’m just so happy and excited for the next day, that my feet are about to start racing like a kid jumping through rain puddles. And of course, there’s last weekend, when my car got stuck in the hot, desert heat, and not only was I physically melting, emotionally I just had to let myself have a meltdown. I had just taken my car to the shop last week, and now this?
When I get a good, uninterrupted night of sleep, I feel like a million bucks. The last time this happened, I went to yoga, refreshed and bouncing on my mat as we started. I could do so much more in my practice than I ever had before. That was the best day!!
To have good health, one must sleep well. Sleep should be your first non-negotiable in life. Your body needs amply sleep each night to repair itself. You need sleep for your body to manage your hormones such as insulin. Lack of sleep equals higher blood sugar levels, equals weight gain and possibly, diabetes. Your immune system weakens and your ability to fight infections decreases with repeated nights of little sleep. Mental clarity and decision making is lessoned throwing off the safety of yourself and others. The average adult should get 7-8 hours of sleep. Some people, myself included, feel just fine with 6 hours. The 7-8 hours is what’s recommend to let your body fully repair and restore itself for the next day.
With years of sleep struggles, I have spent a ton of time researching methods of getting the best sleep. So I’ll share with you what I have learned, what has worked for me, and any other tips and tricks. If you struggle with good quality sleep, pick one tip and practice it each night. Once you have it mastered, incorporate another tip for however long it takes you to master that one. Continue until you’ve mastered most of these sleep tips, and know that you’ve improved your health significantly.
- Routine, routine, routine! Choose a time to start your routine for bed at the same times each night. Say you want to fall asleep at 10pm, begin your routine for bed at 9pm. Turn off the electronics, get the tub going, and pull out that book, brush your teeth, and put on your pajamas. Your body learns routines and eventually uses them as signals to activate your sleep system. Set your alarm to wake you up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. This routine of waking at the same time each day, your body will establish your sleep routine.
- Do something relaxing before bed. Take an epsom salt, lavender bath, read, drink chamomile tea, meditate, or listen to my favorite phone app called, Calm. It’s updated regularly with new stories, meditations, music, or sound. It’s geared for both children and adults. I particularly love the non-fictions stories!
- Lights! Light plays another vital role in this process. With the world obsessed over LED lighting and electronics, it’s no wonder the vast majority doesn’t sleep well. Your body uses a special chemical called melatonin to ease you into sleep. If you’re in constant light, your body doesn’t produce melatonin as it naturally would, therefore messing up your sleep. What should you do? Shut off all electronics, TV included, get out of LED bulbs an hour before you fall asleep.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Your body will be able to rest enough to allow you to fall asleep with proper nutrition. Learn to know when your body likes food too. I can eat a bowl of oatmeal before bed and go to sleep just fine. I know some people who eat before bed and it will keep them up much later. If you’re like that, be sure to eat your last meal at least 2 to 3 hours before your bed time.
- Exercise. Do it daily. It relieves stress that you may have built up causing you to stay up at night. Exercise also tires out your body more for sleep later at night. Moving your body outside is even better.
- No TV’s in the bedroom. Period. Your bedroom should be use for two things; sleep and intimacy. Only climb in bed when you are tired enough to sleep.
- Avoid daytime napping. When you’re trying to get your body into a regular night time routine of sleep, naps should be avoided. You may feel sleepy like you want to nap, but hold off until you have your nightly routine of sleep in place.
- After 20 minutes if you aren’t asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing in another room like journaling, reading, or meditating. If something is on your mind, journal it out on paper. Believe me is significantly helps. Once you are sleepy enough, go to bed to fall asleep. Repeat this process if you still cannot sleep.
- Meditation and visualization. Make both a part of your bedtime routine. Start with just 5 minutes a night sitting quietly and taking deep breaths. Visualize how you want your next day to go and set positive intentions for yourself and others.
- Look at all the areas in your life. Are you spending time in each area? This isn’t easy for all of us, but the more you make the time to do it, the more it becomes a habit. Spend time with the friends and family that make you the happiest. Go on vacations, and take a few hours each weekend to decompress from the week. Pick up a new hobby as trying something new stimulates the brain and body to function and unwind.
Be sure to let me know how you have been sleeping. Did you try anything new to have a better nights sleep?