Too many of us in today’s culture actually brag about our lack of need for sleep. Sure, some people do function better on less sleep, but this doesn’t mean they’re immune from the health issues that come with consistently poor sleep.
These people may in fact be less cranky and irritable than I am when I get less than 7 hours of sleep. Some may even plow through the day without their quality of work being affected by sleep deprivation.
Yet the fact is that consistent sleep deprivation weakens our immune system, making us more likely to get sick. Poor sleep over time also affects our heart health. People who consistently don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight and live shorter lives.
Sleep is important – I got it! But how do I get my Z’ssss in this crazy busy life?
Know your goal
Aim for between 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Less than 7 hours is where your immunity and metabolism will start to be affected.
Do the math and work backwards from your ideal bedtime to adjust the rest of your evening routine. It may take a week or so to figure it out, but it’s well worth it.
Try to turn off the lights about the same time every evening. While this isn’t always possible, it’s a good rule of thumb to try to be consistent.
The same goes for a consistent wake up time. Sleeping in late on the weekends never works to “make up” for lost sleep during the week. Please note – this doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying to sleep in on the weekends when I can. No hypocrisy here!
Move it, move it
Regular exercise that gets your heart rate up helps your body power down at bedtime. It’s proven that people get better quality sleep when they have started and stuck with any consistent exercise routine.
Just don’t get your cardio in late in the day – some people’s internal clocks are too revved up to fall asleep if they work out within 2-3 hours of bedtime.
Power down the electronics
Our devices emit UV rays from the screens that trick our brains into thinking “sunlight!” so time spent on a screen within an hour of bedtime will make your brain think it’s still daytime and alertness is needed!
Not the signal you are trying to send if you want to get an easy rest….
Make your bed(space)
Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. When it’s time for sleep it should get dark, cool, and free from buzzing devices and blinking alerts! It should also be comfortably cooler than the rest of the house if possible.
I either turn off the phone completely or intentionally leave it in another room with my laptop. Arianna Huffington leaves all of her devices outside of her bedroom to avoid the temptation to check them. I figure if she can afford to do that, then so can I!
Don’t be afraid to indulge
We deserve to treat ourselves well! A few sweet tricks that help me get into sleep mode are:
- Lavender oil – a few drops on my pillow at bedtime sends the signal that it’s time to rest.
- I love a slightly cooler room – making it even more delicious to bundle up under those covers.
- Sound machine – the sound of pouring rain helps when I have trouble powering down my mind. Other times I play an audiobook to send me off snoozing – making sure the device I’m using to play is on “Do Not Disturb” mode.
A major part of treating ourselves well is setting ourselves up for successful sleep. Don’t be afraid to experiment with what works for YOU!