Being well means sleeping well and feeling well literally begins with getting a good night sleep.
I know that I generally need 7-8 hours of sleep a night to feel my best.
We each have to listen to our internal clocks to determine the right amount of sleep and the optimal time for sleep.
If you have a hard time adjusting and getting to sleep, do what you can to support your circadian rhythms. This can mean removing electronic’s from near your bed, or even from your bedroom all together. Some people swear by melatonin to help regulate their internal clock but working towards a natural state of relaxation is certainly the most healthy approach.
Creating a peaceful environment to sleep in is very personal. Removing “Clutter” and objects that can keep your mind working overtime will make it easier to unwind when your head hits the pillow.
Imagine entering a room that is painted in a soothing color (whatever that might mean to you!) with calming artwork that evokes peaceful, harmonious rest. Your room smells clean and fresh, you can diffuse lavender oil or use a naturally scented candle to further help you unwind. Maybe the room has a comfortable chair and lamp to read, write in a journal and relax in. There are no piles of clothes on the floor or in corners because you have easily accessible storage for your clothes including drawers, hanging and folding space and a few hooks for a robe, PJ’s or other frequently used clothing. You have space next to your bed for something to drink, one or two books and a lamp but it’s not piled up with books and clutter. Your bed invites you to curl up and sink in, fully supported! The natural daylight filtering in your window helps you rise with the sun, feeling fully rested. When you get up in the morning it is easy to make your bed, not too many pillows, just what you need for the best sleep possible.
Creating a pattern that supports our internal rhythms and helps us to relax might include a cup of warm caffeine-free tea, reading or taking a bath.
We also need to think about what activities keep our minds and bodies in a more active state and stop doing those things at least an hour before bedtime. These activities may include certain kinds of exercise, eating, drinking alcohol and “screentime”. Keeping digital devices at least 10 feet away and/or getting into the practice of putting our phones on “airplane” mode can minimize some of the impact.
What to do when you find yourself waking in the middle of the night, restless, anxious and not able to get back to sleep? For each of us that depends, on our schedule, how much sleep we need, what we have to do the next day. If you need some tips for taming the restless mind check out this great article by Unstuck. The consensus seems to be that laying in bed for hours of restlessness is unhelpful for anyone though, so do what you can to either get back to sleep or get up and get your mind out of the anxiety rut.
I know the practice of napping is something some people swear by but I’ve never been able to nap. I’m just not a napper, wish I was! So that means I need to get that sleep at night because once I’m up, I’m up.
There are so many fascinating studies that illustrate all the ways in which sleep is important for us.
Lack of sleep and fatigue can lead to stress, weight gain, depression, anxiety, heart and other health problems (especially with sleep disorders) and it can be downright dangerous (as in driving and falling asleep etc). Take a few minutes to listen to this excellent TED Talk by Arianne Huffington which reveals Health Research on Sleep deprivation & Sleep disorders
Do you get enough sleep? How many hours does that mean for you?