You’re a busy person. Your day starts by dragging yourself out of bed, already lacking the energy to get you through the day. And for the rest of the day, you struggle. Struggle to make better decisions about your eating habits, struggle to get to the gym, and struggle to feel engaged at work. While there are many different reasons for struggling with the daily rise and grind, there is one thing you can fix to make your day go better. By getting better sleep.
Why is sleep so important? Feeling tired is not the only symptom of lack of sleep. It can also affect your cognitive function, making it harder to make decisions and causing irritability. Over time, sleep deprivation contributes to weight gain, diabetes, and even heart disease. While we sleep, our body is repairing itself. During our deepest sleep, muscle, tissues, and organs are repaired. Our hunger hormones are regulated. Our brain is processing what we have learned that day and transferring short term memories into long term ones. Maybe now you might see the connection between what you might be struggling with every day to lack of sleep. Our body and our brain need the time to reset and repair itself to have you at 100% the next day.
What does good sleep look like? Most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep. It is different for each individual. You should be able to fall asleep easily and stay asleep for 7-9 hours, with no interruption. When you wake up, you should feel well rested and ready for the day.
So how do you make this magical sleep happen? You have to create a bedtime routine. This routine will signal to your body that it is time to start feeling sleepy, so when your head hits the pillow, you can fall asleep more easily. Start your routine an hour (or two) before you want to go to sleep. It’s hard to switch your body from wide awake mode to sleep mode without a little assistance. Give yourself some time to unwind from your day by following the tips below.
1. Eat dinner at least 2-3 hour before bed. If your body is trying to digest, it won’t be able to rest and repair. This also includes not drinking caffeine in the afternoons, and avoiding alcohol.
2. 1-2 hours before bed, reduce screen time. No you do not need to watch another episode of The Bachelor. It can wait. Also put your phone away, Nothing important is happening on Instagram and your friend can wait to tell you her story. Blue light from electronics suppresses melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Reducing screen time will help you begin to feel sleepier, earlier.
3. Write it out. If your stressed about the next day and know you will be thinking about it all night, write a list of items you need to accomplish the next day. Whatever is on your mind, write it down, and get it out of your head. This way your mind can begin to unwind and prepare for resting mode, instead of worrying.
4. Prepare for the next day. What do you need to have a successful day? Make sure your breakfast is ready to go, and lunch is packed. I like to reset my house every night so the little things don’t distract me the next day.
5. Grab your favorite mug of tea. Find a tea that will help you relax. Flavors to try are: Peppermint, Ginger, Bedtime teas. Grab a cup and take your time enjoying it.
6. Settle into your room. Create your sleeping haven. Your bedroom should promote sleep. Let it be dark, comfortable, and homey.
Start with making small adjustments every night to create new habits. If you go to sleep around 10 pm, set a timer at 9 pm to remind you to turn the TV off and start your night time routine. From there, figure out the action items that will help you wind down. You will thank yourself when your alarm goes off and you’re not dreading getting out of bed. Instead you will feel well rested and ready to take on the day.