Getting a good nights sleep is a form of self care for me. I have a sweet spot, its 7 hrs. After 7 solid hours of sleep at night I am a wonderful human being ready to kick ass. If I get anything less than 6 hrs, I’m still quite pleasant BUT the fuse is very very short. Now at this point in our lives I’m sure we all know the benefits of getting a solid amount of sleep each night. I’m also pretty sure we are all aware of the health benefits of being rested. The real question is how many of us are actually taking the steps to make sleep a priority?
Not taking the proper steps to ensure that you are rested can cause more damage than just feeling tired. In fact continuous poor sleeping habits can result in sleep deprivation that could eventually lead to other health issues. When we get a solid amount of time to sleep, our bodies are given the opportunity to wind down and process the previous day. When the body isnt given the opportunity to unwind and process it will still function, but not at the full level of its potential.
Making sleep a priority is very important and should be apart of everyone’s self-care routine. There are times where our sleep routine can suffer and we can go for days, weeks or even months (new parents) without actually getting the proper rest we deserve. It happens to the very best of us and we have all been guilty of not making sleep a priority.
There are a few steps that can be taken to begin the process of making sleep a priority. Here are few to start:
Determine how much sleep:
The first steps in making sleep a priority is determining how much sleep your body needs to function at its best. Each person is completely different, some people function extremely well with just 6 hours while others may need 8 hrs. To being, aim for 8 hrs of sleep each night as a starting point. Take the time that you need to be up and work backwards to determine what your “sleep” time should be. Once you have your “sleep” time you can remove 2 hours from that time as your “unwind down” time to prepare for sleep.
Example: If you need to be awake at 7 am, your “sleep” time would be 11 pm (at the latest) and the “unwind down” time would be at 9 pm.
During the unwind time you would complete your night time routine. Washing face, reading, taking a shower etc (anything that you normally do before bed). The unwind time is really when you begin to prepare for bed so that you can fall asleep before the “sleep” time.
Things to consider: Think about your mornings and all that it entails. If working out, eating breakfast or practicing meditation are apart of your morning routine. Be sure to include that time when determining your wake time. After a few days you can make adjustments to the number of hours of sleep. Try 7 hrs, 6 hrs and even 9 hrs to see which works best for you.
Create a night-time routine:
Having a solid routine in general is beneficial. Creating a night time routine can help the mind + body begin to unwind consistently at the same time each night. Figure out the things that help you to begin to feel relaxed and at peace. Start doing those things each night before bed.
Ideas: reading, meditation, hot shower, yoga or drinking warm tea
Create a morning routine:
Having a morning routine already in place can help you get the most out of your sleep time. Knowing exactly the steps you will need to take in the morning can help you better prepare the night before.
Poor Night Sleep Recovery
Ok, lets be real here. Sometimes no matter how you plan it, things do not go the way they should. You could have an awesome night time routine, get in the bed on time, even have the electronics off and STILL can not get to sleep. Regardless of the efforts put, there will be times where despite the good intentions insomnia can still get in the way. In these moments, dont beat yourself up. There can be so many reasons that falling asleep right away isnt possible. When those days happen and they WILL happen there are ways to recover from a bad nights sleep. Here are my favorite ones:
Yoga: I know what your thinking, she adds yoga into EVERYTHING. Well my friend you are right I do, BUT its because yoga really helps SO many things. Adding movement when you wake up gets the endorphins flowing and the blood pumping. Movement in itself boost energy levels so even if you dont do yoga, getting out for a quick walk or run will help you shake off the bad night of sleep. If you are able to get outside and in the sunshine with your activity that adds bonus points on the energy boost meter.
After a nights sleep good or bad, we wake up dehydrated from all the hours of not having any fluids. Its a good idea to always drink a cup of water when you first wake up to get your insides lubricated and re-hydrated. Room temperature water is always best, but you can totally go cold or add a lemon to the water for a little twist. For my caffeine lovers, coffee, matcha and all of the above, caffeine drinks are great pick-me ups energetically. But be mindful of the potential energy crash when it comes to caffeine and please remember to not have caffeine at least 6 hrs before bed time.
Moods have been proven to change drastically after a really good meal. Support yourself with whole food snacks as well as other light options that keep you uplifted. Avoid heavier foods that may cause you to get sleepy in general such as gluten heavy foods, starches or fried food.
Don’t power through lunch or breaks. Get up every few minutes and walk around. When you are already tired its important to break up time spent at a desk/work, getting up and moving will re-energize you (remember movement boost energy).
If there is time and space, take a 20 min nap to help re-energize. Short naps have been shown to reset alertness. Beware of taking a longer nap as that could actually make you feel more tired.
Just like there will be nights where the sleep quality isnt the best, there will be other nights that despite all of your efforts you simply can not fall asleep. There are so many different reasons for insomnia, stress, poor eating habits, medications and the list really can go on and on. Here are some of my favorite tried and proven tips to help fight insomnia:
A natural night time supplement can be beneficial if you are finding that you are unable to sleep or settle several nights in a row. One that I have used frequently is MELATONIN, this supplement was designed to help regulate the day time and night time cycles of the body. Melatonin is a natural over the counter supplement that can be found in just about any pharmacy, walmart, target ect.
Keeping a pretty steady bed time and wake up routine is crucial to getting a good nights sleep. The body naturally follows routine so if you are finding that some days you sleep in, others you stay up all night it would make sense that the body is confused as to when its time to actually unwind. Finding that schedule and sticking to it is optimal. Be mindful of what you are ingesting or eating and at what times. Eliminating caffeine from your diet at least 6 or more hours before bedtime and turning off electronics close to bed time would help keep positive sleep hygiene.
Adding more activity in your day can help the body to feel ready to rest when its time to rest. Adding more physical activity can be as simple as going for a walk at lunch or after dinner. Finding space in your night time routine to add a little yoga and deep stretch can begin to prepare the body for rest.
Calming the mind and deepening the breath can assist the body with unwinding for the day. Meditation can quiet the thoughts and prepare the mind for rest.
Once you begin to take the steps of making sleep a priority you will start to see the benefits. You will begin to notice a shift in your mind and the way your body feels. You may notice an increase in productivity because you feel rested and unstressed through creating a solid morning + night time routines. There is nothing but benefits from getting solid sleep. What steps do you take to ensure you are getting enough sleep? How do you fight insomnia?