Happy almost Thanksgiving! Do you feel rested and ready for the upcoming holidays? If not, then this post is for you especially as we look at the importance of sleep, your sleep habits and patterns and what you can do to get a better nights’ rest.
When was the last time you slept like a baby? How peaceful do you feel when your head hits your pillow at night?
Poor sleep – whether due to lack of quantity or quality – adversely affects every aspect your lives. You are more prone to infection (even decreasing the efficacy of the flu vaccine) and increased inflammation. More serious health issues also can be attributed to poor sleep habits such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Your energy and your ability to handle the everyday stresses are impacted as well as your memory and cognition reducing overall performance and alertness. The quality of your relationships suffers, both personally and professionally, making you more prone to mistakes, irritability and emotional outbursts, even accidents and injury. In a Time magazine’s article, dated May of 2019, Jamie Ducharme sited that roughly 9 million Americans (4% of U.S. adults) use prescription sleep aids or medications! These facts probably come as no surprise as we live in a society that glorifies and rewards busy-ness. Peace, then, seems elusive or chemically induced.
What, then, can you do to promote your own healthy habits around cultivating peace and getting a good nights’ sleep? The three most important areas to look at are: Your schedule, your nourishment and your environment. Consistent regular routines, balancing your stress with good health habits such as wholesome foods and exercise and keeping your bedroom quiet, free from clutter and distractions and keeping the temperature cool all aid in ensuring better sleep.
One of the most important factors is to have a consistent routine and practice each night before retiring. Going to bed roughly at the same time, even on weekends, is also helpful. The average adult operates best with 7 – 9 hours of sleep nightly so by having a routine and keeping to a regular schedule helps with the natural circadian rhythms of the body. If you get behind on sleep, try to take a 30-minute nap during the day. Every system in the body needs time to restore itself.
How you nourish yourself throughout the day makes a tremendous difference as well in how well you sleep. Look at your habits around food, water intake, exercise, stress levels and supplements. Common suggestions include limiting caffeine, limiting or withholding alcohol, not eating too late and exercising earlier in the day. Healthy stresses – like getting exercise (preferably outside if possible), being mentally challenged during the day and tending to household chores – all help in invoking feelings of purpose and fulfillment. So, if you are not feeling challenged mentally or physically, aim to add something to your schedule that will provide the healthy stress that promotes well-being. Consider treating yourself to some herbal tea like Sleepytime, Ginger or Chamomile after dinner. Take supplements such as Calcium-Magnesium, Vitamin D and/or a probiotic. Have a lighter meal in the evening and try to eat an earlier dinner so you have time for proper digestion before going to bed. These are nourishing to your mind, body and spirit.
Last, and probably the most important area to consider, is your environment. Prepare for the next day by going over your calendar, lay out clothes or have food prepped and ready to go for breakfast or lunch the next day. Being organized frees up the mind and decreases worry and anxiety. Turn off the TV at least 30 minutes before retiring. And, if you must have your phone or other electronic devices in the bedroom, be sure to turn them off and give yourselves about 15 minutes to read and reduce distractions or cuddle with your loved ones. Of all the rooms in your home, it is your bedroom that matters most when it comes to being tidy and free from clutter. Treat your bedroom as a sacred place. It’s best to have the room cool (between 60-67 degrees) and quiet. Use a fan or white noise if needed. For those who deal with anxiety or aches and pains, weighted blankets have an additional relaxing effect on the body.
When it’s time to turn out the lights, make sure your room is dark as this signals the brain to naturally produce melatonin which aids in relaxation. Turn the clock away from you so you are not distracted by the blue light and so that you don’t watch the clock (producing anxiety).
Additionally, keep a notepad on your bedside table so if you awake during the night or if you feel like your mind is still active as your head hits the pillow, you can jot down reminders to tend to the next day. Just one word will suffice to jog your memory. If you have trouble going to sleep or trouble going back to sleep after waking up, give yourself about 20 minutes to try some breathing or meditation techniques. Prayer is often helpful as well. If you still can’t sleep, get up and move to a dimly lit room and write or do a restful activity-even color. Return to bed in 30 minutes or less.
While this may seem like a lot to do, much of it is common sense and your body, mind and spirit will respond with gratitude. Over time, you will notice a marked difference in your health and well-being as well as with a more relaxed and youthful appearance.
May you know peace,
Contact me about a free individualized sleep and stress assessment at www.livinglifecomplete.com.
Also, gift certificates are available for private sessions as well as my holiday stress busters bundle sets. Find out more at: www.livinglifecomplete.com.