Sleep, our most important commodity, is as essential as food and water in order to survive. Sleep affects almost every tissue and system in our bodies and, without proper sleep, it’s harder to concentrate, respond quickly and perform at an optimal state. Recent findings suggest that sleep also plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in our brains that build up when we’re awake and that a chronic lack of sleep increases our risk of many health disorders. It’s no surprise that our hectic lifestyles and round-the-clock entertainment is impeding our quality of sleep.
So what are ways that we can help to improve our sleep? You’ve probably heard of some of these and then there’s a few of my own tips that might surprise you.
First and foremost, self-care is a necessity. I want you to give yourself permission to relax at night and sleep. You are not a computer, you are allowed to shutdown and rest your body. Think of sleep as a beautiful restful act that will reset your body and keep it running at an optimum. Your body comes first, always.
You’ve most likely heard that turning off our electronic devices an hour or two before bed is a helpful way to destress our mind and body to prepare for sleep, and that does hold true, but why not take it to the next level and try jotting down a few sentences in your journal as a way of clearing away worries that might come back in the middle of the night and keep you awake.
A nighttime routine can prove to be very helpful. Think about lighter meals earlier in the evening before bed, less caffeine/alcohol, perhaps try a cup of soothing herbal tea, an aromatherapy scent that’s calming, comfy sleep clothing, dim the lights down low, soothing music, a beautiful pillow on your bed; all very therapeutic and easy to do. Also, try a little light stretching. Now we’re not talking making up for not working out for the day or anything too sweaty, just a few light stretches to honor our body, clear the pathways, breathe deeply and restoratively, meditate.
Still tired? Keep trying to build new practices and initiate habit change. A short nap in the afternoon, no longer than 15 minutes, can also help you to regenerate your body from lack of sleep.
Pick just one tip mentioned and keep building your sleep foundation.