There are so many benefits of getting a good nights sleep and when we don’t get it, our overall health seriously declines. I have experienced this on a small scale. When I get behind on my sleep is when I get a cold or sore throat. Our immune system is weakened.
On a larger scale, studies show that being sleep deprived over time takes a big toll on our health contributing to the onset of disease. Mental cognition is also compromised with a lack of sleep, as well as memory, attention and ability to focus.
When we don’t get a good night’s sleep, our mood is also affected. We have all been on receiving end of a person’s bad mood due to lack of sleep. Lack of sleep also increases chronic pain, reduces our resilience and increases the incidents of injury and accidents. Last but not least it affects our sex drive. (No one feels like having sex when they’re tired. It takes energy!)
1. Movement like exercise during the day certainly helps us sleep better, but research shows that evening exercise may keep us up.
2. An after dinner walk to help metabolize your food.
3. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle. The body likes a schedule that it can count on.
4. Magnesium is a biggy! Most of us don’t get nearly enough. Start with 400 – 500 mg/day – key mineral! It helps with adrenal deactivation as well as muscle relaxation but also essential for bone health, nerve and muscle function, protein synthesis. This has been a huge game changer for me! It also takes away cramps and restless leg!
5. A evening Routine – an hour before your bed time stop electronics, a mindful activity like a warm bath, hot tea, read a book or doing a puzzle.
6. Stop eating a couple of hours before bed, especially sugar or carbs. Pay attention to the effects of alcohol and caffeine on your sleep as they will usually interfere with the quality of sleep!
7. No conversations about work, world problems, kid problems or stressful situations after 8:00.
8. Lavender either rubbed on your feet, your pillow or put into your bath.
9. Darken your bed room.
10. Use white noise or wear ear plugs to cover up the noise from other people or pets in the house, traffic outside or your partners snoring.
11. Create a comfortable relaxing sanctuary in your bedroom. No piles of bills or work related items and declutter. A cluttered room will contribute to a cluttered mind, so clean off your dresser and put your clothes.
12. Get comfortable. Use lots of pillows for under knees or between knees or under shoulder.
13. Get a comfortable mattress. You spend a lot of time on your mattress so it’s worth the investment.
14. Don’t “try” to get to sleep. Trying to sleep makes it even harder to get to sleep. The harder we try, the more it will escape us. Just have an attitude of no expectation and no attachment but to relax.
15. Make an evening playlist of relaxing “wind down” music. Our body responds to music and suggestion. Eg. Peaceful Easy Feeling by the Eagles, or whatever feels relaxing to you.
16. Let go of worry. Often times journaling about your worries helps get them out and released from your mind. You may even want to keep a little pad beside your bed just in case you think of something you need to do and are concerned you may forget, you can write it down on your pad to see the next morning.
17. Learn techniques to get out of the Fight or Flight response that is triggered by stress – sleeping is the last thing we can do if our mind perceives that we’re in danger of being “without” or being “attacked.” Take up a stress reducing activity like Yoga, Qi Gong, Hiking in nature, playing with your pet, etc.
18. Use Breath work to induce the Relaxation Response – eg. 4 square breathing ( breath in for four counts, hold for four counts and breath out for four counts, hold for four counts) , ujjayi breath (a slight constriction at the back of the throat so that the air goes in and out slower), etc.
19. Listen to your body. When you’re tired, instead of covering it up with caffeine, take good care of yourself and get a good night’s sleep!
20. Listen to a guided meditation for sleep (below):
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