Sleep is a key part of our day and an important part of our existence and health; but as important as at is, it’s not something that comes easily for everyone; in fact, millions across the world struggle with insomnia and other sleep related disorders and it causes havoc on their families, jobs and bodies. The idea of closing your eyes and falling asleep seems easy enough, but it really isn’t when you have stumbling blocks caused by your environment, stress or even your lifestyle. We live in a world where being busy seems to be the “in” thing-people brag about pulling all-nighters and getting two hours of sleep but this is actually what’s making sleep more elusive for more people.
No matter how many technological changes take place, our bodies still need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night and the less we adhere to this rule the less healthy we get. Sleep isn’t just about resting your tired body- it’s also the time that allows for the regeneration of brain cells, repair of your skin and the strengthening of other important functions that are crucial for your survival. Sleep is necessary for you to remain brilliant, creative and productive. It’s important to always give the best version of yourself every day and this includes your health. As a mother it’s even more important to give your kids the best version of yourself, and your best version of yourself will never be a tired, exhausted or grumpy person.
Here’s how you can achieve great sleep with a few changes.
Develop a Sleep Routine
Have you noticed how a week or so of sleeping and waking up at a certain time becomes your body’s natural clock? Routines easily become habits so it’s your responsibility to develop the correct ones. Don’t think of your bedtime as the 15 minutes it takes for you to wash your face, brush your teeth and get into bed. Bedtime should be something you start winding down to an hour and a half before your head touches the pillow. This means being mindful of what you eat or drink, your environment and any gadgets and electronics you have around you in the time before you sleep. While some people struggle to fall asleep because of existing sleep disorders, for a many other people it’s because we don’t allow our bodies the chance to relax or our busy minds and lifestyles make it impossible for us to fall asleep. If you develop a healthy routine, your body learns to wind down on its own, so you won’t end up tossing and turning for hours.
-Avoid eating heavy meals if you will be going to sleep in the next 2 hours. This can end up causing a rush of energy or the process of digestion can make it hard to fall asleep. Also avoid caffeinated drinks after 4pm as this can also hamper any efforts you might want to make to relax.
-Make sure you get any tasks done 2 hours before bed. Do this so that you have a chance to relax before you get into bed. After dinner, clean up the kitchen, prepare the kids’ items for the next day, prepare your clothes and meals for the next day and have everything packed. This also gives you the chance to put your kids to bed and have some quality time with them without you having to rush off to do anything else.
-An hour and a half before bed dim the lights of your living room so that your body starts to transition into rest mode. At this point, consider having a calming beverage like camomile tea or peppermint tea. Now, watch TV, read a book or meditate until you have between 15 and 30 minutes before bed.
-If you’re going to do any work on your computer, do it before you go to the bedroom. Having gadgets in bed is one of the main reasons people struggle to fall asleep.
-Consider taking a hot bath or shower before you sleep. This washes the day off and relaxes you. Brush your teeth and deal with anything else you need to do before you actually get into bed.
-Put your mobile phone away and put it on vibrate in case any messages or notifications come in while you sleep. Turn the lights off or dim them- bright lighting will only make the process of falling asleep longer.
-Stretch before you get into bed and once you’re in bed take a few long, deep breaths and lie down. Continue taking these deep breaths as you lie down.
-Quiet your mind: allow yourself only a few minutes to think about those stresses and thoughts that creep in before bed. It’s normal to make plans and lists but this can actually make falling asleep impossible.
-A common misconception of sleep is that you can make up for it by sleeping 3 extra hours if you slept 3 hours the night before. In reality it can take you 3 nights’ sleep to make up for those 3 hours you missed.
-Try to have your pets sleep in another room so that you don’t get disturbed by their movement and fidgeting.
-Avoid hitting the snooze button because you end up even more tired. Snooze sleep is fragmented and it starts a new sleep cycle you won’t finish so it won’t serve you well.
Sleep is something we tend to think of in isolation; as the 8 hour window of time between our heads hitting the pillow to the time our feet touch the ground when we wake up, but it’s a process that starts hours before bedtime according to how we eat, our habits, how stressed we are and the ways we treat ourselves. If you want to achieve the best sleep of your life, put more thought into the importance of your sleep and start laying the groundwork for it even when the sun is still up.
Now stopping reading and go to bed!