Promoting Restful Sleep
Earlier this week I wrote about the importance of unplugging from technology. The leaps and bounds the world of technology has made is so vast and in many cases life saving, yet it has creeped into our personal life in several alarming ways. Negatively altering our health and wellbeing, we have become so attached to these electronics that the concept of what relationships are and personal time is, have taken a major hit. This leads to another topic, that many of us late night TV addicts face quite often… restless and poor sleeping patterns. Studies show that our bodies need, at a minimum, 6 hours of sleep to recharge and properly heal.
Not getting the proper rest leads to a multitude of issues and possible longterm health concerns. We all have experienced ‘getting out of the wrong side of bed’ and just being a crabby mess. It interferes with our work flow and others not wanting to be around us. Yet, research shows that diminished sleeps can lead to weight gain, depression and even disease and cancer.
Quite often when I get in bed, at lets say 10:30, and I know that my alarm will go off at 7:06 (yes, I know that’s a funny time, but I think of it as a present of 6 minutes to myself) that I am getting plenty of rest. Yet, why am I still so groggy? It is easy to calculate that I am getting 8.5 hours of sleep, based on those number. However, I know that is far from the truth. Realistically, I am getting in bed at 10:30, but I probably do not fall asleep until 11:15-11:30. I could be reading a blog or book, Facetiming with family/friends or just laying there mulling over life. This lead me to a little experiment, full of trial and errors, and now wonderful ways that allow me to get the sleep that my body and mind crave.
- The 8 to 8 Rule. Cutting screen time for those 12 hours may seem extreme, but your brain truly needs it to unwind and prepare for restful sleep. Watching television, surfing Pinterest or playing Words With Friends while in bed, are actually keeping your brain simulated, as a result of the light. I used to always love to drift off to sleep with my TV going in the background, I thought that I needed that sound to sleep. After all, there is a sleep setting on your TV for a reason, right? Well… wrong! You don’t realize how much brain-space these electronics take up, until you remove them. So, my answer to that dilemma: remove the television from my room. Also, not checking emails or perusing Facebook is crucial. As activities like these, are giving your brain things to analyze, even for a period of time after you have turned the screens off. So, try from 8pm-8am to keep all electronics off.
- Calming Environment. One Saturday or Sunday, perfect your space for optimal relaxation and rest. You want your bedroom to be a place that you find relaxing and inviting at the end of the day. Comfortable and soothing bed sheets along with peaceful colors are key! Another important factor is temperature. Research shows that sleeping in a room that falls between 65-70 degrees F is the best. There is nothing better than snuggling under cozy sheets and blankets.
- Create an Evening Ritual. In the past I used to always exercise and eat late meals. I believed that giving my body a reason to be tired would help me sleep better. However, I have found that while it is extremely important to maintain my exercise routine, that I do not need to do so within a 4 hour window of trying to go to bed. Exercise promotes the simulation of happy and positive emotions and hormones, but these keep your body and mind wide awake. Now, I take my gym clothes with me to work, so that I can go on my way home and then eat dinner earlier. This then gives me time to wind down in the evenings. I can spend time with family and friends, get chores done around the house or run any errands that are on my list. Lastly, I get ready for bed at a decent hour, make some Sleepytime Tea, sit in bed and read. When I create a routine, my mind and body get used to this schedule and know that I am trying to settle down for the evening.
All of these ways have given my body and brain the time it needs to relax after a busy and hectic day. Ensuring myself a goodnight’s sleep, is imperative to having a productive and good next day. Each of us are different and our bodies need different things, so it will probably take some trial and error to find different ways to help you sleep the best. Sleep is one of the main components to leading a healthy and balanced life. Please feel free to share some ways below that you find helpful in promoting restful sleep, as your ideas and methods can help others in our community.