For some of us sleep comes easy and for others it is the last thing on our long list of priorities. We are good at putting it off until the wee hours of the night, then struggle to surrender to it. I have personally experienced many waves of sleep patterns over the years and am now learning how to best sleep for my body and my life.
I have had my share of sleep deprivation over the years, and about 2 years ago, I learned to value my sleep and rest for my body & mind. I now love sleep and prioritize it in my life. The more I learned about sleep and the importance of the restoration, rebuilding, and processing that occurs in our bodies, I became far more invested in it.
I listened to podcasts, read articles, and began paying attention to both the quantity and quality of my sleep. I purchased the Flex 2 Fitbit and began using it as a tool to track my sleep. Up until that point, I had no idea how much time I was awake during the night, or restless between when I fell asleep and when I woke up. It was vey helpful to begin to analyze these metrics and compare it to how it made me feel on a daily basis. I continue to use my Fitbit and recommend finding a tool to track and record your sleep so you can study your sleep patterns to understand what your body needs.
In my studies, I discovered how much ambient light affects our bodies at a cellular level. Visible light occurs in a spectrum and thus there are many different intensities of light. Different types of light makes a big difference in how our bodies go to sleep and stay asleep. Max and I didn’t have the budget to get high quality blackout window coverings, so instead, we got really nice eye covers on Amazon.
We previously lived in downtown San Clemente, CA. There was a freeway 100 yards away creating a cacophony of sounds emitting from the bustling town center. I noticed if I used earplugs, I had much better sleep. It seems obvious when typing this, however, noise levels are important to getting great quality sleep. Since our move north, we now live in a quieter neighborhood and we do not have streetlights. We still use our eye masks most nights because the moon is bright, and sometimes our neighbors leave their outdoor light on. I notice and track how much better I sleep when I'm in a dark and quiet environment.
Helpful tools to fall asleep:
1. Dim lights, limit light exposure, and resort to candle light or very low lighting after the sun goes down or at least 2 hours before your expected bedtime.
2. Stay off all screens 1-2 hours before bed. Try not to do things like work, watch TV, and any screen time in bed. If you want to read before bed with a soft and gentle light, that can help unwind as well, depending on the book.
3. Gently massage lavender essential oil with carrier oil like coconut oil onto your temples and neck. Or put some lavender essential oil into a diffuser to breath it in before bed. Lavender is a calming and soothing essential oil that works wonders on your nervous system and body.
4. Charge your phone in a different room than your bedroom, or put your phone on airplane mode. Knowing when to be available and connected to your device and when to turn it off or keep it in a different room allows your body and brain to have separation from all the things, tasks, and pressures associated with your phone and your to-do's. It can wait till the morning.
Helpful tips for staying asleep:
1. Sleep in a dark room. Remove electronics and any chargers with lights. Use eye mask if blackout room is not available. Ear plugs to block out noise if you live in a noisy area.
2. Drink liquids up to 2 hours prior to bedtime. Things like “sleepy time tea” are great, but they do more harm than good if you drink it too close to bed, causing you to need the bathroom during the night. Stay well hydrated throughout the day, and try to not eat or drink anytime too close to bedtime.
3. Temperature of your sleeping space – are you too hot or too cold? Create a comfortable temperature for your body, it will help you fall and stay asleep throughout the night.
4. Sleep in comfortable and natural materials or sleep naked. Being comfortable is key.
You can also play with other ways of aligning your mind for sleep like setting an intention. Set an intention each night before bed. Your intention can be “I intend to sleep deeply and soundly until I need to wake up at (insert time)” or “I intend to get high quality sleep tonight and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for my day” or “I intend to fall asleep right away tonight and sleep the whole night until (insert time).” Create your intention that feels best for you each night. You can stick to one that you work on, or have a different intention each night.
I could write a whole book on the importance of sleep and ways to help you get to quality sleep. Enjoy theses helpful tips, try them out and play with tracking your sleep and how you preform, and how you feel after a well rested nights sleep. We are all differ, what might work for one person may not be the best for you- keep a sleep journal to help you see what works best and feels best for you.
Sleep Journal Ideas:
- Bedtimes, and the time that you wake up.
- Hours slept in a night and then average hours you get a night per week.
- What you did or tried before going to bed.
- If you used any aids (i.e. eye mask, essential oils, no screens) or supplements (teas, tinctures, etc.)
- The power of Intentions
Your health is your wealth. How are you prioritizing your health and how can you improve your sleep to better aid your health? I'd love to hear what helps you sleep or if adding any of these suggestions has helped you.