SLEEP!! Who doesn’t love to sleep? Have you ever talked to those people who don’t like sleeping…you know, the ones who brag about how little sleep they (think they) need and how they survive off of continuous stream of coffee and/or caffeinated pop? Yeah…those people are weird. And those people are also making their lives so much more stressful and groggy than necessary. Sleep is awesome. Sleep is SUPER important and I’d be willing to guesstimate that 7 out of 10 Americans aren’t getting enough of it. There are a million reasons/excuses why – from kids to work to housework, to Netflix, etc. – but for every excuse there is out there against getting enough sleep, there are about triple the amount of health benefits and reasons TO get enough sleep.
So in conclusion, you will never win that argument…and for the record – no one is awarded “cool points” for surviving on the least amount of sleep. 😉 Now that we got that mini-rant out of the way, I’m going to share with you 4 ways to make sure you sleep more AND sleep better, because I care about you and your health and your mental well-being and want you to love self-care (and do more of it) and sleep IS a form of self-care! So let’s go…
1. Make It A Priority.
This one, while obvious, is also the toughest. When there are deadlines looming and chores to get done, sleep seems like the easiest thing to push back or do without in the moment. But ironically, sleep is also the one thing that will make getting those tasks done so much easier and less stressful. So what do you do? I like to encourage my clients to make lists. Make a list of things that need to get done for the week and things that “need” to get done (you know, the things that you’d like to get done, but don’t necessarily have to keep you from sleep). Once you have this list you can take a look at your weekly schedule and slide them in where time allows. Also, I think it’s important to impose a ‘bed time’. Know that you can work on things up UNTIL a certain time. After that, it has to wait until tomorrow. This may seem uncomfortable and awkward at first, but it will eventually become habit and you will thank yourself for it in the morning. Try setting an alarm on your phone to go off and remind you that time is up for the evening. Bottom line here…you aren’t magically going to get more sleep without intentionally planning for it. Organize and prioritize you day so you can get to bed at a reasonable time.
2. Limit Stimuli Before Bed.
If you have problems falling asleep or feel like “you aren’t tired” when you KNOW you are…you could just be over stimulated. Most people’s idea of “winding down” at night includes a TV, computer, smart phone, etc. The problem here is that all of these things keep your brain in “go-mode”. On top of this, the light from our devices is “short-wavelength-enriched,” meaning it has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light—and blue light affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin more than any other wavelength. So what do you do? Try reducing the amount of time spent in front of your phone and TV before bed or replace TV time with a book or magazine. If you, like my husband, are addicted to your phone – I know there are blue light filters out there and even apps that can do the trick. Also, avoid any seriously deep conversation right before bed. This, just like visual stimuli, gets your brain in “go-mode” which will make it hard to wind down for sleep.
3. Create A Bed Time Routine.
If you’re a parent, you probably know all about bed time routines as it relates to baby’s and even young children. Humans are creatures of habit. If you start implementing a routine around bed time and sleep, it will soon become habit and you will soon crave it each night. This can and will look different for every person, but even simple things can help (think tea before bed, a bath or warm shower, a crossword puzzle, prayer, gratitude journal, a good book, stretching, etc). This routine should be something relaxing, decompressing and something that you look forward to. It doesn’t need to be epic, in fact, it shouldn’t be. It just needs to be something that you can easily incorporate into your evening and that will prepare your body for sleep.
4. Clean Your Room.
Nothing about a messy room screams relaxation. I don’t know about you, but when I walk into our room and it looks like a tornado off, I’m immediately stressed out and overwhelmed. Keeping your room clutter free allows it to be a tranquil and peaceful place which can and will evoke a sense of calm when you walk in, even if you are walking in after a super stressful day. If this is hard for you, start making easy changes – leave out 3 or 4 hampers to throw your clothes in so they aren’t all over the floor/bed/furniture, make it a rule that no work, paperwork or other “clutter” enters those doors, etc. Try to keep the bedroom for sleeping and nothing else. This will eliminate mess and clutter and keep it as a ‘serene’ space in your house.
There you have it! 4 ways to drastically improve your sleep quality and quantity. What do you think? Do these sound impossible to you or do you think this is something you can manage? The thing is, you want to show up to your life feeling good, energized and able to fully serve others around you (co-workers, kids, spouses, friends, etc) and you cannot do this efficiently when you are running on empty. While there are a lot of areas of your life that can be looked at to make sure you are being “filled up”, sleep is probably the easiest to tackle on your own. When you are well rested you think better, react better, engage better and FEEL better and who doesn’t want all of those things to be true of them?? I know I do…so on that note, I think I’ll go get ready for bed. 😉