It’s no secret Americans are chronically sleep deprived. Chances are you are one of them. If you’re regularly getting less than 7 hours a night, consider yourself sleep deprived. You may think you’re “fine” and that you “don’t need it” but the research is stacked against you.
You need it.
Poor sleep is linked to depression, obesity, weakened immunity, increased inflammation, decreased focus, productivity and creativity...not to mention mood fluctuations.
Sleep is when your body heals and repairs itself, particularly parts of your body you likely don’t think about such as your blood vessels and your heart.
Getting incredible sleep requires commitment. Not just to the habits you need to establish, but to yourself that you are worth it.
If you have slowly gotten away from making sleep a priority over the years, it’s ok. You just need to train yourself back.
Sleep training: It’s not just for babies anymore.
Set a consistent bedtime and wake-up time.
Our bodies crave routine. If you are someone who gets hungry for lunch around the same time everyday, it’s likely because you eat around that time everyday. Your body will react the same to sleep. If it is accustomed to going to bed at 10pm, it will send you cues around 10pm that it’s time to go to go to sleep. The same goes for waking up. Fluctuating bedtime and wake-up times make it hard for our bodies to get into a rhythm.
Establish a bedtime routine.
We all need to wind down from our day before we can expect our bodies to fall right asleep. It’s important to mentally and physically transition from one activity to another. Having a consistent wind down routine acts as the buffer from the day’s activities to sleep. Shower, wear pajamas, drink hot tea, read a (real) book, write, meditate, listen to soft music, whatever your routine involves, be consistent.
No screens in bed.
If you want to take it a step further, no screens 30-60 minutes before bed period. The lights, sounds and mental stimulation we get from technology screens stimulates our Central Nervous System and only makes it harder to fall asleep. If you are someone who claims they can only can fall asleep with the TV on, that may be so, but your sleep isn’t great quality. Additionally, you body likely wakes up after a couple of hours so you can turn the TV off. If you must read your eReader in bed, I suggest getting blue light blocking glasses.
One of the most common reasons people claim they can’t fall asleep is that they can’t shut off their mind. Our brains are running a mile a minute all day, so it’s no wonder it has a hard time slowing down. Keep a notebook and pen by your bed so you can brain dump everything out of your head and onto paper. This not only helps you process everything in an organized way but also relieves you of having to remember certain things to do the next day. Much of the stress is trying to remember tasks or events about our day.