I am now at the half-way point of outlining the eight essential areas of wellness for vitality! Today’s topic is one that alludes many… Sleep…Ahhh… doesn’t a good night’s sleep sound just delightful? Do you remember the last time you got one? Sleep is an area of wellness that can be the most neglected and the most difficult to grasp. With all of the foundations of wellness, when it is neglected it will negatively impact how you feel on all levels. Getting a good, restful night’s sleep is essential to living a healthy life of vitality and wellbeing.
If you suffer from chronic insomnia, waking during the night and having trouble getting back to sleep—or just struggle to fall asleep despite feeling exhausted—you are not alone. Sleep is allusive to so many and it is an area that many people spend a ton of money on to attempt to remedy with varying results.
Loss of sleep can cause an imbalance in blood sugar, which causes cravings. Lack of sleep can cause you to be a bit, let’s say, grumpy? Or even worse, super irritable, causing challenges in relationships and overall contentment. Lack of sleep will cause you to feel drained and not have enough energy to engage in the other areas of wellness needed to live a life of vitality. When you are exhausted, do you feel like preparing a healthy meal, getting in time for exercise or even a date night or something social and fun? Probably not.
On the other side, when you sleep well you feel refreshed, energized and able to make clear-headed decisions throughout the day. Here are some suggestions to help you get the zzz’s you need to feel vital, energized and prepared to take on whatever challenges come your way.
If your goal is to sleep through the night and wake feeling rested it can be helpful to attempt some of the following strategies to create a sleep plan that works for you:
- Go to bed at the same time each night, your body thrives on routine and consistency for your personal circadian rhythm
- Create an evening ritual that helps you focus on the transition time from the activity of your day into time for rest, this will signal to your brain and body that it is time to slow down and prepare for sleep
- Find a good book, reading can help shift your focus from your thoughts or the long to-do list running through your mind and prepare your mind for sleep
- Avoid blue light exposure (cell phones, iPads…) at least an hour before you go to bed
- Avoid stimulating TV shows, movies etc… at least an hour before you go to bed
- Take a warm bath before bed with Epsom salt and calming essential oils such as lavender and/or vetiver, ylang ylang, bergamot and sandalwood (my favorite!)
- Have your room as dark as possible, the smallest amount of light can cause sleep disruptions, use a sleep mask if it is comfortable for you
- Use a sound machine to block out any external noise that may disrupt your sleep
- Keep a sleep journal, logging your routine in the evening such as what you had for dinner, when you go to bed and anytime that you wake up- this can help you notice patterns or triggers that disrupt your sleep- it also helps you recognize when you are making some progress and what helps you sleep well
- Practice stress reduction techniques daily to help maintain a more positive mood and to create less restlessness at night, a great resource is the Insight Timer app with guided meditations, binaural beats and even bedtime stories to help you fall (and stay) asleep
- When you are struggling to calm your mind, say to yourself “this is the time that I have designated for my mind and body to rest, I can return to my thoughts and worries the next day when I can actually do something about them”—use this or other coping thoughts that help return you to the present moment and away from the distracting and distressing thoughts, such as stating to yourself, “this is my time to rest, I can return to these thoughts later” etc...
- When you wake up in the middle of the night, first try to do a body scan in your mind’s eye and notice if you are holding tension in any areas of your body—if so, with awareness, allow the tension to release—if your mind wanders away, come back to focusing your attention on your body—this may be a difficult process at first as it is the nature of the mind to wander, this takes practice and perseverance
- Practice counting your breaths or use the so-hum breath (saying “so” in your mind as you inhale and “hum” in your mind as you exhale) to help keep a single point of focus to your mind until you drift off to sleep
- Do not have any caffeine after lunch
- Limit or avoid alcohol, try not to have any at least 2 hours before your bedtime as it can cause your body to not enter a state of deep sleep
- Drink enough water throughout the day, when you are even a little bit dehydrated it creates disruptions in all of the systems of the body
- Do some movement and exercise during the day, even a short walk or gentle stretching in the evening can help improve the quality of your sleep
- Try some type of tea such as chamomile or other rest, sleep or calming teas to help induce a feeling of being sleepy, although this may not help you sleep through the night, it may help you get a few hours of deeper sleep
Did you try any of these and find that they improved your sleep? I’d love to hear what works for you! Have another suggestion that helps you? Share it with me so I can help get the word out! Sleep is so important and can create greater health in mind, body and spirit.