In our fast paced world with all the demands to work harder and do more, the importance of getting high quality sleep is often neglected. We tend to value “busyness” over rest, but our bodies were not designed to operate this way. We need good quality sleep for our minds and bodies to function properly…so what can we do to get better at sleeping?
Over the past couple of years I have worked hard to get more sleep. I have read and heard copious amounts of data on how sleep impacts the brain, our health, and overall wellness, but I continued to struggle with getting adequate sleep. In one podcast I heard Chalene Johnson share that her years of sleep deprivation caused major damage to her brain to the point that her brain scan indicated that her brain had suffered multiple brain injuries; yet, she had never had any type of accident or head trauma. The damage came solely from her lack of sleep…whoa!!!
After hearing this, I knew I had to do better. I have tried just about everything to perfect my sleep hygiene, and it is still a work in progress, but I will share what has been working for me:
My Oura ring: this device gives me the data to track my sleep metrics and measure how well I am doing (or not). It also helps me recognize patterns that impact my sleep (such as where I am in my cycle, how exercise or eating late impacts my sleep, etc.).
No food after 6 PM: Eating late meals causes my body to have to work too hard at hard at night when I should be resting. By cutting all calorie intake at least three hours before bed time, I allow my body to be in the best state for sleeping.
Keeping my bedroom cool: Staying cool at night helps me sleep better without waking through the night. I have invested lots of money in bedding that keeps me cool (check out Buffy Cloud Comforters and eucalyptus sheets). I lower the temp in my house usually to 68 degrees, and I use two fans…one ceiling and one floor.
Having a routine: When I turn on my fans at night, it signals to my brain that it’s time for bed. I cover my mirrors and television (I think of it as putting my bedroom to sleep; when I uncover them in the morning I’m waking the room up!). I take a relaxing bath in Epsom salt, and/or a “spa” shower. Keep the lights low during this process also helps my brain realize it’s time for bed.
No blue light within one hour of bedtime: This is one I struggle with because I seem to have a slight addiction to my phone! I have adjusted the settings on my phone to go “dark” an hour before bedtime, but ultimately I would love to get to the point where I do not pick up my phone at ALL an hour before bed.
Turn on “do not disturb” or sleep focus on my phone: This setting keeps my phone from ringing and dinging all throughout the night so I can sleep soundly. Only certain people can call and get through in case of emergencies.
Limiting alcohol: I know we think that glass of wine helps us to sleep better, but it actually does the opposite. Our hearts and liver have to work to hard to process alcohol, so it impacts our ability to stay asleep. My overall goal is to eliminate alcohol completely…I’m doing well so far, but still feel the need to indulge when in social settings (peer pressure is REAL!).
Limiting caffeine: Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others…I fall into that sensitive category! A cup of coffee late in the morning/early afternoon will have me awake all night. It has a delayed effect on me. By knowing this, I limit myself to one cup and only in the morning…and not everyday (I’m down to once per week when I have my Friday morning quality time with my Mom).
Napping: If i feel the need to get more rest, I will fit in a nap for my lunchtime break. A good nap that restores you is anywhere between 20-90 minutes at the most, and ideally doesn’t take place too late in the day where it will impact your ability to fall asleep at bedtime. Naps are good for your brain health also!
So what about you? How are you sleeping? What can you do to improve the quality of your sleep? Do you have a good sleep routine? If not, I hope this post inspires you to get more quality sleep…after all your brain and your health depends on it!
If you would like support I’m perfecting your wellness routine, connect with me! I would love to support you in your journey. We are so much better together!
Happy sleeping! 😴