Who Has Time For Sleep?

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.

 Check out the study here. 

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. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

The Five Step Nighttime Routine That My Morning Self Adores

Having a simple nighttime routine gives my morning self all the feels. If I can set up my morning self for success, I will do it every time. She deserves it! By doing these steps, I can be the healthier less stressed version of myself living in a tidy home.

Step #1 Prep Meals for the Next Day

I generally start this step right after we clear the dinner dishes. When I worked outside the home, I would use the dinner leftovers to make my lunch to go to work the next day. The rest, would be fair game for my husband to consume at will. By portioning out what I wanted, we avoided any confusion that would mean I’d have to resort to something from the freezer that was a whole lot less nutritious. Now, I don’t go out much, but I will still portion out something that I love as leftovers for my lunch the next day.

If you are packing lunches for school, you can prep much of that the night before to streamline your morning. I would portion out lunch items into containers or bags ahead of time and either place right in the lunch bag or in the fridge, easy to grab in the morning. I found that doing this in the evening saved a lot of headaches in the morning.

Step #2 Empty the Sink

This step takes me way back to my FlyLady days. Did you ever do the FlyLady system to keep your house clean? I’m sure she’s still around, but that takes me back close to 20 years. One of her key principles is to shine your sink. The theory is that if your sink is clean, you are less likely to leave things sitting in it and more likely to just clean those dishes as you go. She’s not wrong! 

Before I head to bed each night, I empty out my sink. Sometimes that means just rinsing and putting in the dishwasher. Sometimes, that means I hand wash the pots and pans or snack bowls. Either way, I’m scanning our kitchen and great room for dishes that I can take care of now. There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning to the sink full of pots and dishes that were “soaking” from last night. Gross! Let’s face it, soaking a pan is really code for, I just didn’t want to put in the work to clean it. I have found that in most cases, if I clean a pan right away, it doesn’t actually require soaking. 

After my sink is clean, I check the dishwasher to see if it needs to be run. I love to start it at bedtime so we have clean dishes in the morning. In our family of 4, we run it about every 2-3 days. In some families, this will be a nightly event. We do a fair bit of hand washing throughout the day, so we don’t fill it up so quickly. Having the dishwasher clean in the morning means that I can unload it while my tea is steeping. For years, I avoided unloading the dishwasher as one of those chores I abhorred. I don’t know why. I finally did it while my tea timer was going and realized that it took less than 5 minutes. Silly me!

Step #3 Clean Your Face

When I retire to my room at night, I start getting ready for bed by washing my face. It’s my way of washing off the day and taking care of my skin. From taking off my makeup (when I wear it) to cleansing my skin, to moisturizing, I love this part of my routine. It is like a little mini spa treatment every day. Sometimes, I even throw in a little bid of jade roller time with my favorite beauty serum. Heavenly!

When you clean your face at night, you wash away the toxins that have accumulated on your skin throughout the day from the environment and products that you have encountered. You are also cleansing your pores and allowing your skin cells to regenerate overnight. Plus, this is the perfect time to let all your favorite lotions and potions soak in and do their thing. 

Step #4 Set Out Your Clothes

One of the easiest ways to improve your morning is to set out your clothes for the next day. I love to set out my outfit for the day the night before. Actually, when I was working outside the home, I would plan out my whole week’s clothes by hanging things in order in my closet. Sometimes, I would swap things around based on the weather or my mood, but I at least had a plan. Now, I still set out what I plan to wear. It is a habit that has taken hold quite strongly in me. 

This is a great strategy for kids too. By setting out clothes the night before you can eliminate all kinds of debate in the morning. Involving kids in this process helps too, even if it is just deciding between the red or grey shirt to go with those pants. They are empowered and you have a happier home.

Step #5 Start a Diffuser

My bedtime routine would not be complete without running a diffuser in my bedroom. It sets the stage for relaxation and helps promote good sleep. Getting adequate sleep at night improves our overall health and wellbeing. I like to set the tone in my room as soon as I retire for the night. I start my diffuser, then, I do all the other things in my room. Now, if you are not an essential oils person, I get it. I didn’t include this step earlier, because I know that some people are just not interested in a diffuser. That’s cool. I actually have some great linen sprays and roller blends that I use when I can’t have my diffuser with me. The effect is similar in that you are preparing the space for sleep. 

I tend to go in fits and starts with bedtime diffuser recipes. I will use one over and over, then shift to another one. I mix up all kinds of things on the fly depending on what I feel like I need. It is really a personal thing for what you prefer and what works best for you. What works best for me may not work for you. That’s the funny thing about essential oils. It can be a very personal experience. Thankfully, there are many options to choose from. You just need to be willing to give it a try. The following is one of my favorite nighttime diffuser recipes. I have more where this comes from, just send me a message and I can share more. 

Sleepytime Diffuser Blend

  • 3 drops Lavender
  • 3 drops Cedarwood
  • 3 drops Stress Away

Start in bedroom diffuser 15-20 minutes before bedtime.

By following these easy steps, my morning self can hit the ground running, ready to conquer whatever the day has in store. I can’t control everything, but I can control these things and I have found I am much happier for it. 

What is something on your “never miss” nighttime routine list? What do you do every night to give yourself a leg up? Share in the comments below.

Not all essential oils are created equally. If you want to know what I use, send me a message and I can fill you in on the only oils I trust for my family. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

What is saving your life right now?

That is a question posed by author Barbara Brown Taylor. It is so easy to focus on the negative and what is going wrong all around us. I love the intentional thoughts that I have when I ask myself what is saving my life right now. 

As we make our way straight into the middle of winter, I ask myself this question. I love that I can answer this as philosophically or silly as I please. I can even do both here, because it’s my blog! Here are some of my answers. 

The series Schitt’s Creek is saving my life right now. 

I honestly can’t tell you why I never got around to watching it until recently. My girls and I have gotten into a routine of watching a few episodes each night. It is so cathartic to laugh when times are hard and this show is sooo funny! If you haven’t watched it yet, get yourself over to Netflix and get your binge on. It is absolutely worth it!

My planner is saving my life right now. 

Getting ready to move again from our rental into our own house means that we are scheduling all kinds of things from utility hook ups/shut offs to internet installation to movers to house and carpet cleaners to appliance delivery. It’s a lot to get our minds around and if I didn’t have a place to write it all down, we’d be in trouble. 

Our Ninja Foodi pressure cooker/air fryer combo is saving my life right now. 

We got one at Christmas and are loving making new things in it. We are using the air fryer more than anything and I’m loving how crispy everything gets. When new appliances bring you joy, you are definitely adulting! 

My kids are saving my life right now. 

They are at such fun ages being 16 and 19. We have some of the most amazing conversations about anything and everything. I feel like they keep me young while at the same time reminding me of how old I really am when I get to explain “how things used to be.” Their minds were blown when I came across an old manual from a flip phone. First of all, there was a manual? Second of all, how did you text on that thing? Ah, yes, the good old days!

Finally, my bathtub is saving my life right now. 

Even amidst our impending move, I need to take baths for my own sanity. Perhaps it is even more important because of the impending move. My bathtub is a space for me to get away and just be. I set up my diffuser, add Epsom salts to the tub and my tension and worries just get soaked away. I wrote a whole blog post about How to Add Some Zen to Your Bath if you missed it. 

There is so much to be grateful for, even when things are not going as planned. What is saving your life right now? Share in the comments below. 

I included this very same question periodically in my new journal: Journaling Through the Year. If you are looking for a user friendly way to tiptoe into the journaling world, you will love this new journal. Check out all the details here. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

Coping When Things Are Crazy

I try really hard to stay positive in life. I am seriously a glass half full kind of person. Lately though, it has been rough with all the things going on in the world. 

What do you do when the world seems so off kilter?

Here’s how I cope when things seem crazy around me. I can’t control the world, but I can do these things.

I focus on being mindful. 

This means that I turn off the noise and just appreciate being present in the moment as I go through my day. I wrote a whole post about Mindfulness for Beginners awhile back. If you missed it, check it out here. 

I put on my essential oils. 

This can mean that I seek out the emotional support oils in my oily toolkit. My favorites for this are Frankincense or Palo Santo. Or I apply the ones that bring me joy like Believe or Bergamot. Sometimes, I walk up to my oil collection and just grab the first oil that really speaks to me. I realize that sounds super out there to some of you, but it actually works for me. I have a need and a particular oil jumps out to me as I scan the collection. Oftentimes, when I look up the properties of that oil in my reference materials, it turns out to be just what I needed. 

Not all essential oils are created equally. If you want to know what I use, send me a message and I can fill you in on what oils I trust for my family. 

I turn off the news and step away from social media. 

The endless chatter gets to me after a time and I have learned that for my own sanity, I need a break. That may look like completely shutting it all off, or it may be a matter of setting my own limits. Lately, I’ve been watching the top of the news hour for any actual breaking news. Then, I turn it off. I’ve also been spending a lot less time on social media. When I do go on there, it is usually for a specific purpose. Sometimes, I’ll set a timer for scrolling so I don’t waste half the day before I realize what time it is. 

I practice some self care. 

For me, that looks like taking a long soak in the bathtub with Epsom salts. When my family was annoying me this week through no fault of their own, I knew that I needed to get in the tub. I came out of it calmer and more appreciative of the individuals that live with me. For you, self care may look like taking a long walk by yourself, reading a book, going and wandering all the aisles at Target or getting a pedicure. It is up to you what works best to help you recharge. 

I turn my attention to others. 

I know this sounds strange, but hear me out here. I have found that in focusing on what others around me might need, I can often fill that need and support them. This gives me an outlet for my nervous energy. I can serve others, which is what I strive to do most of all. I check in with friends and family and I can control my response to their needs. This is something that I can wrap my hands around and do for the good of others. Do I get a benefit from it? You bet! My endorphins are firing all over the place and my mood increases by helping others. 

What is your favorite coping strategy? (Tell me in the comments below.)

There are some simple changes you can make today that will create a better world for you and for your children. You can get my FREE guide to living more sustainably called How a Normal Person Can Be Semi-Crunchy. You don’t have to live off-grid in a yurt and produce zero waste to make a difference, but that is totally an option. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

What Are You Creating?

According to Harvard Health, ”for something to be creative it has to be novel or original and be useful or adaptive to some portion of the population.”

When I create something, I am problem solving along the way. Through solving the problems that come along with creation, I am activating the reward center in my brain and getting a burst of dopamine in the process. Generally, I don’t even realize it at the time because I am so focused on the creative process, but science tells us that it is there. 

The tendency these days is to consume. We consume the social media feeds we scroll through. We consume the television programs or movies we watch. We consume take out food and package deliveries. 

What are you creating these days?

I love to craft things. I often see products online and think, “I could make that!” I am a sucker for a step by step tutorial. Do they all turn out fabulously? No way! I do, however, gain experience and skills along the way. The beauty of crafting is that I can take what I have learned and use it going forward into the next project. I can refine my technique or use smarter tools. Sometimes that experience tells me that, no, I cannot make that cool thing myself. LOL! 

I have been knitting a scarf lately that is almost finished. That is kind of a miracle because knitting is something that I do when I find myself sitting still with nothing to do with my hands. That doesn’t happen too often lately, but I’m making progress little by little. 

A newer form of creativity for me has been drawing/painting with an Apple Pencil on my iPad. I love being able to draw something and have the ability to push undo if it is not the stroke I was hoping for. There are so many layers I can add to my drawings to improve them too. There is just something about learning a new craft that gets me so excited to make more. 

I got a Cricut for Christmas from my amazing family and I am so excited to make all the things. I dabbled a little and made an ornament commemorating the year, a little sign with our names on it, the cover of my journal and turned a whiteboard into a perpetual calendar for my daughter. This is only the beginning! When we move into our new house, there will be a dedicated space for all my crafting and creating, so I can up my creating game. 

Now, I lean towards physical crafts that end up all around my home. You may be thinking, that’s totally not me. No worries there! You may create things and not even realize it. Check out this list:

  • Writing: This can take the form of journaling, letter writing, blogging, crafting emails or lesson plans or social media posts. 

  • Decorating: Rearranging things to improve the aesthetic is also creating.

  • Music: Singing or playing an instrument. 

  • Photography: You don’t even need fancy equipment these days with how technology has improved our phone cameras. 

  • Cooking or Baking: Using a recipe or not, you are creating something. 

  • Gardening: Indoor or outdoor, planting, tending, pruning is also creative.

  • Building: You are creating when you build towers or Legos with your kids.

All of that is creating! You are putting something out into the world that wasn’t there before. This is how we leave our mark on the world!

My goal each day is to create something new. That keeps my brain firing that dopamine and leads to a happier life. 

What is your favorite form of creative outlet? I’m not sure I could narrow it down to just one, so you can share as many as you like in the comments below.

Did you know I just launched a journal? It is a pdf download that you can get today to start my easy journaling system. Check out all the information here!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

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