There are many important things we can do to gain optimal health……..to go from surviving to thrive. Undoubtedly the top of the list is to get good quality restorative sleep.
We aren't always kind to ourselves and on a regular basis, we can and do inhibit good quality sleep. Making a few small adjustments you can up the sleep game and become an expert at it.
I can go on for days about the importance and science of sleep and how to do it better but instead, I'm going to keep it short and sweet.
Make the time and make the effort to do these steps and you can improve your sleep.
1: Our bodies love schedules and routines. Pick a wise and practical time to go to bed and to get up. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it.
Don't be hitting the snooze button or sleeping the weekend away, you will mess up your inner clock. Create a good schedule and your body will thank you for it. Naps are an easy way to mess up your schedule so you may want to consider skipping the nap and use that tiredness to aid you in your nightly sleep instead.
2: Create a sleep sanctuary. Make your bed and your bedroom a place for sleep and sex and that's it. It's not a movie theater, it's not a dining room, it's not a coffee shop. Treat your bed and bedroom as a place for rest and recovery. When you associate your sleep space as other things you take away from what it is intended for.
Understandably there are exceptions. If you are sick and need to stay in bed, having comforts from other spaces of home in bed with you are nice. If your living situation puts most of your world in your bedroom (living with parents, in a dorm, roommates, etc.), you may not be able to fully build a sleep sanctuary but do what you can.
3: Put a wedge between TV, radio, and the internet and your sleep schedule. If scrolling through your emails and social media is the last thing you do before bed and the first thing you do upon waking, where is the respect to yourself and your sleep? Give yourself the needed break. Disconnect from your devices and connect to yourself. Trust me……you are worth it.
4: Be wise when it comes to what and when you eat and drink leading into the evening. Caffeine and sugar are stimulants that will keep you awake and relying on alcohol or marijuana to help you drift into sleep will keep your body from going through its natural process to get you there. Remember, what you drink late at night may be the very thing that wakes you from your slumber to drain into the toilet. Give yourself a couple of hours from the time you last eat to when you go to bed. Let your body digest the food and your last meal of the day doesn't need to be big. We tend to be more sedentary in the evening so if you aren't burning that last meal it may end up becoming a spare tire, love handles, or a big butt.
5: Sleep changes as we age. As babies, we need 16 to 18 hours a day then as are pre-teen 10 hours is more appropriate. When we are into our teen years 8 hours may work but when we are in our middle ages we may not need as much. We may do well on 7 or a little less.
Don't let the "You need 8 hours of sleep or you are doing it wrong" concept be the driving force here. Listen to your body, it doesn't lie. If you need more or if you need less, let your body be the guide. Let me tell you though, there are 5 different stages of sleep and the cycles of these stages last for about 90 minutes. If you mess with a cycle you can end up feeling worse off because of it. That's another reason not to play around with the snooze on your alarm. By trying to get 5 more minutes of sleep you may find yourself back into a sleep cycle just to break yourself out of it at the wrong time. If you've ever found yourself more tired and groggy after the snooze that's why. Just get up. You will be glad you did.
6: Melatonin. Our body produces the very thing needed to aid us into falling asleep and staying asleep naturally but we have learned to mess up the works of our very nature with the poor quality foods we eat, the chemicals we use in daily living, and the artificial lighting of our lifestyle and technology. A few easy adjustments in your daily life can aid in your body creating a better supply of natural melatonin and experimenting with a good quality synthetic melatonin can be a good short-term intervention. Start with a low (5mg) dose and you will have to play around a bit with timing. If you take melatonin and you are groggy and spacy for some time after waking in the morning, adjust the timing by taking it earlier in the night. Some people find that taking melatonin 1 or 2 hours before bed gives them great results. Certain foods will aid in the effectiveness of melatonin so do some research or feel free to contact me for more info.
7: Stress, anxiousness, and the endless stream of thoughts. One of the biggest pitfalls leading to poor sleep is when "life" gets in the way of sleep. How can you sleep if your mind won't shut off right? It goes without saying that no amount of worry will fix anything but nonetheless there it is. Learning effective stress management techniques (luckily you happen to know someone who is an expert on the subject……me) and putting them into action will aid you in creating bigger and bigger gaps in the stream of thinking and help deflate judgments. Waiting until you are in bed and staring at the ceiling may not be the best of timing to finally manage your stress so do the work ahead of time. Managing your stress throughout your day leaves very little to work on before sleep. I know this is easier said than done but with practice and patience you can become a master of you. The stress that isn't managed can and will become more than just poor sleep. It's widely documented that "stress" is the leading cause of disease and I tend to believe that. You either manage stress now or pay the price later……..a a cold hard fact.
It goes without saying that with sleep being a third of your life, optimizing it is critical. By following the steps I've laid out for you in conjunction with the enclosed audio, you too can be on your way to better night sleep. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. To schedule your next session with me to help you achieve your best life ever, call 518-879-1078 or email me at [email protected]