Who has time for sleep?
A better question is, “Can you really afford to not get enough sleep?”
When we are sleep deprived, our abilities to concentrate, think clearly and process memories is greatly reduced. Lack of sleep has been tied to a higher risk of certain diseases and medical conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, poor mental health, and early death.
Are you getting enough sleep?
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine,
the ideal amount of sleep for adults is 7 hours or more for optimal health.
Now, genetics and other factors provide some variability in what is necessary for individuals, but doctors agree that getting more sleep, consistently, is important for our bodies to function properly as they were designed. Our bodies and minds need an opportunity to recharge so we can wake refreshed and alert.
That all sounds great, but is it realistic? I mean, with kids, work, chores, and wind down time, who really gets enough sleep? I have been quite guilty of spending most of my life getting less than the optimal amount of sleep. Here’s the thing though...if we get enough sleep, we are more productive in our waking hours and can actually get enough sleep in most cases.
Stick with me here.
If I actually get my seven hours of sleep that is recommended, I wake up less groggy. This means that I am able to sip my tea with a purpose and start my day faster than before. These added minutes may seem small, but they add up over the course of a whole day. I am more focused at my job, which means I can complete more tasks from my to do list in a shorter amount of time.
So, now that I understand the why, how do I accomplish this?
First, I may need to retrain my brain with some new routines. If your routine is to watch a series on Netflix, it can be hard to not just let it roll to the next episode. I am guilty of that way more times than I’d like to admit. I believe that true change starts with baby steps. Your goal is to get more sleep. Maybe the first thing you need to do is to actually set boundaries on your television watching. Maybe instead of watching endlessly, you start by checking the time on the clock when a new episode appears. This is the time to make a decision…..even if you really want to know what happens next.
For me, I know that if I am going to get up at 7:00 in the morning, I need to start my bedtime routine by 10:30. This allows me enough time to wind down, do what needs to be done and be in bed ready to sleep by 11:30. You may think that sounds like a long time, but that includes my whole routine, plus some book reading time. (I have to apply that same clock check when I am reading and get to a new chapter.)
Second, you need to build your nighttime routine that works for you. I have detailed mine over here, but what works for me may not work for you.
Try some of these strategies to get yourself into sleep mode:
Journaling - Some people find that journaling before bed allows their brains a chance to unload the thoughts we have that have a tendency to swirl in our heads as we try to fall asleep.
Reading - Escaping into a book for a few minutes before bed can be a great way to turn off the pressures of the day and prepare our bodies for sleep.
Put away your phone - The best thing to do at night is to plug in your phone in another room. For some of us that is not an option because we use it as an alarm. At the very least, put your phone on do not disturb. By doing this, you are not getting any of those notification dings or screen illuminations to pull you away from sleep mode. It is a slippery slope to “just check that notification” and pretty soon, you are scrolling through things that are not going to help you get to sleep. You can set favorite contacts to be able to break through in case of an emergency.
Turn down your thermostat - We sleep better in a room that is cooler than we keep it during the day. According to Sleepfoundation.org, the optimal temperature for sleeping is between 60-67 degrees. Setting your thermostat to 65 is a good starting point that you can adjust for your preferences. Cuddling up under the covers is much more comfortable if you are not overheating. I know that I surely toss and turn much more when I am too warm. I kick off those sheets and spend a ton of time just trying to get comfortable. When your bedroom is the right temperature for you, it is much easier to fall into dreamland.
Use a diffuser - Set the tone in your room with aromatherapy. I like to diffuse a calming blend around 30 minutes before I want to be asleep. My favorite blend is shared in my nighttime routine post here.
White noise - Do you need to have white noise in order to sleep? We always sleep with the television on low with a sleep timer so it will turn off. I know some people disagree with having a TV on at bedtime, but it works for us. You can use an app for white noise or get a noise machine like this one. We also keep a fan on which can be just the right amount of white noise, plus it keeps the temperature in our room down do it’s double duty.
Finally, you need to work on consistency. Check this list for things you are already doing. Then choose one thing to add. After a time of consistently doing that one thing, add another until you have built your own nighttime routine that works for you and helps you get great sleep. It will take time and won’t happen overnight. You can make meaningful change if you are persistent. Great sleep is worth it!
Which of these tips is the easiest for you to implement? Tell me in the comments below.
Looking for a great journal for jotting down your thoughts? Check out my Journaling Through the Year PDF download. It will get you started on the right foot.
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