I know, blah, blah, blah, sleep is important for your health, well-being, and how alert you are blah, blah, blah.
You know not getting a good night sleep can impact your performance during the day. A chronic lack of sleep causes all sorts of health issues and weight-gain. It can also lead to depression. In other words, not getting the sleep you need makes you feel bad, really bad.
On the flip side, making sure you get sufficient rest can help you feel more energized. You get more done which boosts your self-confidence and in turn your overall happiness. Making sure you get your beauty rest means a lot.
I’m sure you’ve seen this in action. When you don’t sleep well or don’t get a chance to get enough rest, you end up grumpy and agitated. Your stress level goes way up which in turn makes you feel worse. You don’t get your work done, you start to feel depressed and that in turn leads to more sleepless nights. It’s a vicious cycle.
I know this first hand. I come from a long line of “night owls” with sleep issues. Unfortunately, our youngest also has the same problem and it's a big battle. Once the cycle starts it's hard to get back on track and with no sleep, it's easy to fall into depression.
If we can break that cycle and make sleep a priority on the other hand, everything changes for the better. We wake up in a great mood and ready to tackle the day. It’s easier to get work and chores done and still have time to relax and unwind. That in turn leads to a better night sleep and an even better morning. A much better cycle to be in!
The big question then is how do you get to this state of sleepfull bliss and a solid 8 hours (or whatever your body needs) of rest at night? You do it by making sleep a priority. Yes, there are times in your life (like the arrival of a newborn, for example), when getting a good night’s sleep isn’t a possibility for quite some time, but for most of us, working on a reasonable bedtime routine is not that hard to achieve. You just have to decide that your sleep and your happiness are a priority.
Routine is the keyword here. Good sleep is a habit and a learned behavior. It takes a little work on your part to change your habits and establish a good sleep and bedtime routine, but it will be well worth it. I promise.
Now as a person with sleep issues and who also likes to work late (especially on shift nights), I know how important all the steps below are. I also know how hard it is to follow through on them. I love staying up late watching tv on shift nights! BUT, ugh, I feel like crap the next day.
I promise, after a week or two of following through you will be happier and settled into your healthier routine.
- Start by setting a regular bedtime and do your best to stick to it – even on the weekend and holidays. Our bodies get in a rhythm of waking and resting hours. Help your body get there by staying on schedule.
- Spend time in the hours before bed relaxing and calming down. Get off your phone or computer and turn off the tv (NOOOOO). Depending on how severe your issues are, you may have to unplug 2 hours before bedtime, but definitely an hour before. Turning down the lights, playing soft music, and reading an old-fashioned book are all great ways to relax and prepare both body and mind for sleep. If you use a kindle, turn the light down on it as low as you can without straining your eyes. Taking a warm bath or shower can help as well.
- Don't work late. Working late is just going to keep your brain active. This is a difficult one for me. I love to work late and catch up on my dvr or movies. Then next thing I know it's 2 or 3am and I've started a bad cycle again. I have to force myself to stop working and let my mind chill.
- Don’t exercise too late in the day. I know many can't exercise until the evening. But, if you plan on going to bed at 9 to get a full night sleep, do not start your workout at 7. That gets you rushing home, rushing to eat and all that rushing leaves you awake. Not to mention your endorphins are still going from your workout and will keep you up.
- Avoid caffeine a few hours before bed. How many hours will depend on your body. After many years battling sleep issues, I figured out I have a caffeine sensitivity. Not just to caffeine, but to other things as well. The stimulants in energy drinks and products (natural products) will build up in my system and keep me awake for days. If I hope to sleep I can't have any caffeine or stimulants after noon and sadly as I'm getting older by the year, I can't have some things at all or I won't sleep.
If you’re still having a hard time going to sleep after implementing a routine, consider supplementing with magnesium and/or melatonin. A lack of either one of those substances in your body can make it much harder to fall and stay asleep. Set up your sleep schedule and take the melatonin an hour before your bedtime. Advocare® makes a really good product called SleepWorks©. Definitely talk to your Dr and see if a sleep test is necessary.
Now, I know you are saying, “I don't have time for sleep”. “There are too many things to get done in my day”.
You do have time for sleep, you just have to prioritize. Is being sick and tired all day actually getting more accomplished? You set a sleep time for the kids so they stay healthy. Adults are no different. Prioritize your health over the dishes and the laundry. Eventually after you get more sleep you will be quicker with your daily routines and get it all done.
Stick with your routine and you will get into a habit of getting plenty of sleep. That in turn will lead to happier, more energetic and more productive days. Like today! I went to bed at an appropriate time, woke up early and getting work done with my morning coffee 🙂
Homework: take a good hard look at your sleep habits. Are you getting 6-8 hours a night? If not, why? Write out your new sleep routine and stick to it. If you have a fitbit or other health tracker it's eye opening to see just how little sleep you may be getting.
Working on our happiness together,
PS – need more help working on a healthier you? More accountability? We got the FireWife Wellness group back up and running.