You’ve heard people say that sleep is overrated ... but is it?
Over in my Facebook community (are you a member yet?!) we have weekly mini-challenges where we focus on ONE thing that we challenge ourselves to be a little better at doing.
At the beginning of the week, we set our intentions, then each morning in my "Daily Boost" (aka live streams), I share a tip-of-the-day. On Fridays, we wrap things up and see how we faired during the week.
Last week the focus was on sleep. Why? Because in this fast-paced world that we live in, we tend to forgo sleep because we've overextended ourselves.
Here’s an all-too-common scenario:
Does this sound familiar? If this happens enough over the course of weeks, months or even years, you can imagine where this will lead you. Many of us are operating this way on a regular basis.
There was a time when I suffered from terrible insomnia. I was disciplined about being in bed, lights out, by 9 pm, but come 2 am I’d be wide awake. My mind would be racing, and I had no ability to fall back asleep, even though I was dead tired.
I tried counting sheep and keeping a notebook by my bed to write down the thoughts going through my head, but neither worked. Night after night I'd watch the minutes tick by, counting down the hours until I had to be up for my morning workout.
I took Ambien which worked for a little while but always left me feeling hungover. Eventually, Ambien stopped working, so I switched to Lunesta. That only worked for a short time and had the same effect. I didn’t want to be dependent on sleeping pills so in 2009 I started seeing a therapist. We uncovered that my root problem that was disrupting my sleep was stress.
When we're sleep-deprived, we put ourselves at risk for:
- weight gain (Leptin, your satiety hormone, is reduced making it *that* much harder to naturally suppress your appetite)
- illness (your immune system can't function optimally)
- injury (you're in a chronically tired state of mind)
- impaired brain function (your ability to process new information and memories is compromised)
- emotional instability (you feel irritable, anxious, sad, and angry)
Imagine what it would be like to have a morning like this instead:
Do you see how the way you wake up each morning affects your entire day? It all starts with how rested you are when you wake up, and that depends on the amount and quality of sleep you get.
Stress is unavoidable, but when we are fully rested, we can handle it better. Sleep helps us recover from stress too. When we’re asleep, our bodies have a chance to rest, repair, detox and recover.
Even though we’re dormant when we sleep, there is so much important activity going on during sleep cycles that affect different needs of our mind and body.
Here are 12 steps you can follow for a better night's sleep:
1 | First, make sleep a priority:
If you don’t at least give yourself a chance to get 7-9 hours of sleep, how can it happen? The best way to allow this to happen is to count backward. If you have to be up at 6 am, count backward 8 hours. This means you need to be in bed, lights out by 10:00 pm.
2 | Maintain a consistent schedule:
Go to bed at the same time every night even on the weekends! While I was disciplined about going to bed at 9 pm on weeknights, I’d stay up well past midnight on weekends which threw my body off. It was that much harder to get on schedule come Sunday evenings.
3 | Reduce your daily consumption of caffeine:
Don't panic; I said reduce, not go cold turkey, especially after dinner.
4 | Turn off electronics at least an hour before bed:
This includes your phone, tablets, laptops, and yes even your television. Or use blue-light glasses.
5 | Don't go to bed on a full stomach:
Aim to finish your last meal of the day three hours before bedtime. If you need to get up at 6 am, and you need to be in bed by 10 pm, aim to have your dinner completed by 7 pm.
6| Don't go to bed on an empty stomach:
As much as you don’t want to go to bed on a full stomach, you don't go to sleep on an empty stomach either, so don't skip dinner!
7 | Exercise regularly:
But don't overdo it, and don't workout too close to bedtime.
8 | Limit your fluid consumption before bed:
You don't want to be waking up to go to the bathroom every hour
9 | Keep your bedroom dark and quiet:
Consider removing said electronics from Tip #4 from your room. If you are sensitive to light, consider using an eye-mask like this one that I use.
10 | Invest in comfortable bedding:
Use a pillow that works for you. In a Daily Boost, I shared how simply changing my pillow was a game-changer for me!
11 | Go to sleep and wake up using your natural alarm clock
Hint: Tip #2 is key for this!
And here’s the final one that’s been a game-changer for me.
12 | Align your body to your natural circadian rhythm:
For me this means aligning to daylight. So instead of having all the lights blazing in my home when the sun sets, I dim them. This means just having one lamp on low, just a salt lamp on, or even just candlelight. This helps my body start to wind down and know that rest and recovery time is coming. I’ve been experimenting with this practice for a few months and it’s made a significant different not just in the number of hours I sleep, but also in the quality of sleep I get.
If you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, you have to set the stage to prepare your body for sleep, and these tips will help you do so.
If you’re saying “But I can’t do these things, I have way too much to do!” you should know that insufficient sleep decreases productivity, so by getting enough sleep, you can actually get more done in less time AND feel better while you’re doing it.
Sleep is vital to your safety, productivity, and overall health. Do your body a favor and gift it with the high-quality, healing sleep it needs and deserves!
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Hi, I'm Naomi!
I help smart and savvy women who suffer from chronic stress, unexplained weight gain and burnout, breakthrough their healthy blind spots and relieve symptoms through natural healing with whole foods and by making lifestyle and environmental changes. Why feel tired when you can feel fired up and ready to go every single day?
I love running outdoors, connecting with like-minded people, and exploring the San Francisco Bay Area with my pup, Coco Pop.