How much do you value sleep? Do you proudly boast that you can function on only 5 hours a night or are you essentially useless without a full ten hours? I’m in the latter camp, and tend to prioritize sleep over...almost everything. During the week, bedtime is 10pm. On the weekends, (if I had it my way) it wouldn’t be much different. You can call me a grandma, it’s fine. I like my sleep too much to care. Mostly because of how I feel when I do not get enough.
Sleep is one of the most important connections to thriving on a wellness lifestyle. Without the proper amount and quality of sleep, we are subject to gain weight, loss of mental clarity, feeling emotionally drained, and eventually may experience our general health diminish over time. Some doctors even believe that insomnia is any early symptom of depression, as it is difficult to distinguish these two issues and their symptoms. Personally, I begin to feel like I’m in a fog with no way out. I’m unmotivated and unwilling to help myself out of my situation. I kind of just stop caring.
Lately I’ve started to focus more on my relationship with sleep and ask myself how I can rig the system (that being my body) on nights when I can’t get to bed at my reasonable grandma hour. Of course, there are supplements and medications to do this. But what if I wanted to do it the natural way?
There are a few controllable factors in our lives that directly contribute to our beauty sleep. When we pay more attention to what and when we eat and drink (nutrition), where we sleep (environment), and our energy output during the day (daily routines), we can significantly improve our quality and quantity of sleep. Here are ten tips you can implement immediately:
What and when you eat affects your body’s natural ability to both energize and rest.
1. Limit caffeine intake. Seems obvious, right? But even if you’re that person that can drink coffee at night and still easily fall asleep, you may not be aware of how the caffeine is affecting your REM cycle.
2. Cut out the sugar. Just do it. There are a million more positive effects of cutting out sugar than just helping you sleep, so promise me you’ll at least try it.
3. Eat your smallest meal at night (and your largest in the middle of the day). Digestion requires energy, which interferes with your body’s ability to rest. Here’s a tip: crowd out late-night snacking with yoga, journaling, reading, or hanging out with your roomie or S.O.
4. Avoid late-night beverages to cut out the dreaded middle-of-the-night bathroom run.
Is your bedroom a peaceful haven? If not, let’s limit the distractions.
5. Declutter! We can often feel the energy of the clutter in the form of stress in our minds. Clean up your bedroom before hopping into bed. And yes, please make your bed in the morning like your mother trained you to do.
6. Take out the TV (and all electronics for that matter). The blue light affects your body’s production of melatonin. If you have to have your phone next to you for an alarm clock, turn it on “night shift” mode and “do not disturb.” I promise, this one is a gamechanger.
7. Block as much light and sound as possible. Eye masks are actually really cute AND effective.
8. Do you have a bedtime routine? Going to bed and waking up at the same hour each day gets your body into a rhythm. Soon it’ll instinctively know when you need to be up! I freakishly wake up 2 minutes before my alarm most days.
9. Meditate or do these yoga poses before you hit the sack to help your mind relax and wind down from a busy day.
10. Track your sleep habits to monitor heart rate, breathing patterns, and movement while you sleep. That way, you can start to identify the necessary adjustments to your routine or sleeping environment. Most fitness trackers have this feature!
When we give ourselves the deserved rest we need to function, we are more productive, much happier, and overall living a more wellness-based life.