Sleep! It’s one of the easiest and most important ways to restore your mind, body and soul.. No special training or equipment needed. And, it’s totally free!
If it’s so easy, then why is it so hard? Why do we bankrupt ourselves when it comes to sleeping?
There’s a good chance that you, like me, are among the one-third of Americans who don’t get enough sleep according to a 2016 CDC study.
I know better. Yet for the past couple of months, bedtime got away from me. I’m a night person by nature. I know it’s time to get back on track. It’s not hard. But I need to consciously make healthy sleep choices a priority, every day.
There’s honestly nothing else going on at night that’s more valuable to improve your health and mental clarity than getting enough sleep. Stop letting your to-do list keep you up all night.
The great news is that with simple tweaks to your bedtime routine, you’ll not only sleep better, but wake up with more energy and focus, and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and chronic inflammation.
Why not give some of these tips a try!
How much and when you sleep matters.
It’s not just how many hours you sleep that matters, but when you sleep.
Most people feel their best with 7 - 9 hours of sleep. The CDC recommends a minimum of 7 hours. That means in bed, lights out, sleeping. Stop scrolling through your phone.
Here’s my secret to getting more sleep without even changing bedtime: moving the phone out of arm’s reach stopped the scrolling, and I got about 45 minutes more of sleep each night. That’s another 5 hours of sleep in a week. Easy win!
Hectic schedules make even 7 hours a night a tough challenge. But health wise, it’s worth making sleep a priority.
To maximize the restorative and healing benefits of sleep, aim for lights out by 10:30 - 11pm. I know that if I’m not upstairs before the 11 o’clock news comes on, I’m going to get sucked into the news. And if I'm awake at 11:30, it’s too hard for me to walk away from Jimmy Kimmel. I need to get upstairs earlier, or I’m sunk! This is one of my biggest challenges. Everyone has a central internal clock and peripheral body clocks inside the hypothalamus. At night, our bodies are busy repairing and detoxifying our organs. It's most effective when we’re sleeping, which is why it's programmed to happen during the night.When we’re awake during those repair times, the effectiveness of the healing is impacted.
Help your health by getting to bed and letting your body optimize its maintenance work.
Hormonal imbalances can wreak havoc on sleep and feeling rested. When I struggled with adrenal imbalances, I couldn’t stay awake in the afternoon and fell asleep right after dinner. I’d get a second wind around 11 pm and stay wide awake until 2am. It went on for years. That’s how my family of origin was, so I assumed it was normal. Not true! I researched and found a health professional to work on my sleep cycle. It’s SO nice to have a normal sleep pattern, and to know that I’ve resolved serious health concerns. Sleep apnea is another condition that can affect sleep. If snoring is a concern for you or your partner, speak to your health practitioner. It’s a condition that should be treated by a doctor, and there are options to help.
Notice how what you eat and drink affects the quality of your sleep.
Cut back on water in the evening to minimize waking up.
Watch bedtime snacks. Sugar at night creates blood sugar spikes. The real culprit behind needing the bathroom in the middle of the night could be that bedtime cookie or bowl of corn chips. Try cutting out the sweets and see if it helps you sleep better.
Coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, alcohol, certain medications and supplements can affect sleep. Stop caffeine after 2 or 3pm, or earlier.
Do you wake up regularly around the same time? If you’ve ruled out caffeine, sugar or a crying baby, it may be worth checking with a doctor to dig deeper.
Do a digital detox at night.
Over the past couple of months, my phone crept back into my nighttime routine. I’ve been paying for it with more distractions and less sleep.
Once I pick up my phone to check the weather, it’s all over. Next, I’m checking out cute dogs on Instagram or reading a news story that revs me up. Not to mention that I’ve been known to wake my husband to share something that simply can’t wait until morning!
Minimize electronics use before bed, and keep electronics out of the bedroom. The National Sleep Foundation recommends no electronics in the bedroom, and no electronic use for at least an hour before bed. Try it. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Set your phone on Do Not Disturb. I set it up so that favorites come through in case of emergency, and block out the rest.
Read a book instead of using electronics before turning in for the night. The blue light coming from phones and computer screens disrupts melatonin, a hormone that signals your body that it’s time to sleep.
Put your phone in another room, if possible, to minimize distractions. Otherwise, keep it out of reach so you’re not tempted to use it before bed or during the night if you wake up. Stop watching TV before bed. We’ve never had a TV in our bedroom. When I’m traveling, it seems like a treat until I doze off and wake up with the glow of the television feeling crabby and crummy.
Create a nightly routine that supports better sleep.
Work with natural circadian rhythms. The internal body clock restores and replenishes different organs during the night. Staying up really late interferes with the healing properties of sleep.
Tune in and listen to when your body feels tired. Go to bed and wake up at about the same time, weekdays and weekends.
Dim the lights about an hour before bed to send your brain the message that it’s time to wind down. Set a gentle bedtime alarm on your phone or Alexa. When mine goes off, know I’ve got 20 minutes to wrap things up for the night.
Put away concerns for the night. Set out whatever you need to make the morning run smoothly. Keep a notepad and pen by your bed in case you think of something important during the night. Jot it down, and let it go.
Keep the bedroom cool, tranquil and dark at night for sounder sleeping.
If you’re a light sleeper, try a sound machine for some background white noise. Lavender essential oils at night create a restful environment. Try a lavender linen spray or diffuse lavender essential oil.
Sleep in your bed. Not on the couch. Not in your kids bed after bedtime stories. When I was an exhausted mom of two babies, I didn’t realize how much I compromised my rest by cuddling up and falling asleep with them, only to drag myself up an hour later. Uninterrupted sleep is the goal.
A simple gratitude practice before you drift off to sleep will set the peaceful tone for your evening. Whether it’s a meditation, or writing down 3 things that you’re grateful for, you’ll be that much more peaceful and relaxed.
“Sleep is the best meditation.” Dalai Lama
What else can I say about the virtues of great sleep? Plenty! It’s healthy, restful and completely free.
Gift yourself 7-9 hours of quality sleep. You’re worth it. I can’t think of anything better to restore your mind and body, and improve your health and memory.
A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything. - Irish proverb
If your lifestyle is stressing you out, and you'd like help trying to balance the many pressures keeping you up at night, set up a discovery call with me at <<LINK>> or sign up for a <<Clarity Call>> I can help you to create more balance and joy in your life so that you can finally sleep at night.
Wishing you wonderful dreams and well-rested days!
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