Getting proper rest and quality sleep is imperative to any self-care routine. We need rest and we need sleep. This is not optional. Good sleep is associated with a lot of health benefits for our physical body and for our brains. Our brains cannot function without sleep. And prolonged sleep deprivation can have dramatic consequences on our overall health and well-being. Lucky for you, there are some easy tips you can follow to help support you in getting high-quality sleep.
I know this is an area people struggle with. Did you know when you wake up, you should feel rested and restored? Not like you have to chug a gallon of coffee to function. Research shows that adults (ages 18-64) need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Teenagers actually need more like 8-10 hours a night and those over 65 require a little less per night, 7-8 hours research shows.
And this is actual sleep, not just being in bed tossing and turning. If you have a Fitbit or another type of activity tracker, you can view your sleep stats, which may be eye-opening. When I did this a few years back, I was shocked to learn my sleep was not as restful as I had thought, so I took steps to rectify this. I feel great when I have had a good night’s sleep.
The good news is there are tweaks you can make in your routine to get more restful sleep. Below are some of my favorite ways to ensure I get good quality sleep.
- The scent of lavender is known to promote calmness.
- You can try a scented eye pillow, oil diffuser, or room spray.
- Listening to white noise, a guided mediation (bonus points for a Dr. MC one), hypnosis, or calming music to relax can be beneficial.
- Lots of free options on YouTube or various apps.
- You want to sleep in as close to darkness as possible. Personally, I need a night light and my hubby wants total darkness, we were able to compromise with this night light.
- Keep in mind the light for any devices or even outside light pollution that could be impacting your sleep.
Yoga & Breathing
- Gentle yoga stretches or a few rounds of deep breathing before bed can be very relaxing. Be sure to do these slowly. Deep breathing exercises when performed quickly can energize us. Basic deep breathing consists of 3-5 rounds in through the nose and a long exhale through the mouth (make the exhale longer than the inhale). You can watch Dr. MC demonstrate this here.
- Here are some more ways to get started with gentle stretching and breathing.
- Set wakeup and bedtime to get your body into a rhythm and keep them as consistent as possible. This helps your body get into a rhythm of when it is time to go to bed and get up.
- Clear the junk from your head before bed – this can be a great time to journal or write your gratitude list.
- A simple journal or Google Docs/notes on your phone can get you started. Write down 3-5 things every day that you are grateful for. This can be things, people, possessions, tastes, smells, abilities, etc. – no limits on expressing gratitude. There is research to support when you practice gratitude you can re-wire the neuro pathways in your brain to boose your moose, improve relationships and increase your happiness.
- One of my fave ways to end the day is to practice What Went Well. This is a simple but powerful mindfulness practice. The goal is to end the day on a positive note! Watch here.
Lastly, you may also want to consider a weighted blanket. Lots of options. Aim for 8-10% of your body weight. Be sure to get one with a cover as you cannot wash the heavy, weighted part, so the cover allows for easier cleaning. There is not a lot of scientific research regarding the effectiveness of a weighted blanket, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to support the use of a weighted blanket.
And be sure to keep the bedroom as a place for sleeping. Try not to do work in your bedroom as it can be confusing to your brain that it is a workspace and it can impact your ability to rest, relax and sleep.
Really pay attention to how you feel in the morning and set yourself up for success by going to be at an appropriate time to get you 7-9 hours.
Do you have other tips that help you get restful sleep? Comment below and let me know.
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Oh and one more thing, I recently had the honor of being a guest on the Nike Trained podcast. You can hear the episode here (Apple/Spotify). Also available where you listen to podcasts.