3 Simple Tips to Better Sleep
Sep 8, 2019
It's real. It's epidemic. It's debilitating.
And it doesn't have to be your reality.
I have been living on very little sleep since my daughter was born in 2015. I still average less than 7 hours of sleep a night most weeks, but it's getting better. After my body (physical, mental AND emotional) made it really clear that I needed to make a change I began studying the importance of sleep on healing my trauma, finding clarity, boosting my immune system, stabilizing body weight, reducing stress...and the list goes on and on.
When I am not sleeping well I am the furthest away from the person I want to be. I am not even close to living as my highest self. I am impatient, irritable, lazy, judgmental, and sometimes downright unkind.
Can you relate?
I know this is a common problem in our culture.
According to the CDC, 40% of the US population gets less than 6 hours of sleep per night. 70% gets less than 7 hours and 70 million US American adults have sleep disorders. This is a health epidemic.
I know that so many of us feel that there just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done and therefore borrow time from tomorrow by staying up late. And because we are overscheduled, overstimulated and overwhelmed it becomes harder and harder to quiet the mind enough to fall asleep and/or get back to sleep if we wake in the middle of the night.
Is sleep really that important? What's really at stake?
In addition to the irritability and impatience what is at stake when you don't get enough sleep? When you don't get enough sleep your immune system breaks down and you are more likely to suffer from Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid arthritis, MS, Lupus, IBS and any of the 80+ auto-immune diseases.
When you are not in sync with your circadian rhythms you risk depression and other mental health challenges like bipolar disorder and seasonal affect disorder, diabetes, and even are more likely to develop cancer.
Here are a few really simple (although not necessarily easy) tips to get better sleep:
Eat dinner early and choose foods that are simple to prepare and easy to digest.
- Our body takes 3-4 hours to digest most foods
- If we are still digesting our food when we hit the pillow our body doesn't get the opportunity to do it's work of cleansing the organs while we sleep. Our physiology is unneccessarily taxed and we wake up feeling groggy and unclear.
- If we are still disgesting our food while we sleep our body doesn't have space to digest the rest of our day's experiences.
Shut down your screens...all of them
- Screens stimulate the brain and can get us into the active thinking mode.
- Depending on what you choose to watch screens can also get us worked up emotionally, which can interrupt our ability to get restful sleep.
- After you eat an early (and light) dinner do some gentle movement. Go for a walk, do some easy chores, have a dance party.
- Connect with people that you love. The energy during this time of day 6-10pm is earthy and grounded. It's a time for nurturing and connection.
- Read a book instead of turning on the screen
Create a bedtime ritual
- Take a bath
- Soak your feet and/or give yourself a foot massage with essential oils that soothe you
- Gratitude practice. Use a journal to write down everything that you are thankful for
- Restorative yoga
- Breathe intentially
- Experiement with what invites you to drop into the fatigue your body is feeling rather than overriding it by unneccassary stimulation.
- Hit the pillow before 10pm because this is when we experience a shift in energy from grounded to rising according to Ayurveda. It's that evil second wind.
Experiment with what works for you.
As I mentioned these are simple things...but they are not easy. It's counter-culture to do many of these things and man is Netflix hard to turn off. So, start with small shifts. Dial your dinnertime and your bedtime back just 15 minutes this week and then a little more next week. Architect your enviornment so that these shifts are easier. Make your bedroom a place you want to be. Move the TV out of the bedroom. Put your phone to bed (literally make a little bed for it far away from your bed...get a $10 alarm clock so you don't have to have your phone next to your bed).
And I invite you to observe those moments when you are telling yourself that you can't do any of these suggestions above and try a little mindset shift. Instead perhaps if you change the word to won't it will allow you to be more honest with yourself. And instead of saying to yourself no, but...try yes, and. No, but I couldn't get to sleep by 10pm because I have WAY too much to do. Try yes, I have a lot to do, and I could spend a little less time on social media or I could be more productive tomorrow if I get the sleep I need tonight.
Give it a try. It can be really life changing when to become aware of old habitual patterns of being and thinking and then to shift those patterns and get really honest about the ways our mind can play tricks on us.
As you begin to make these small shifts notice how you feel each morning. Notice your energy levels. Notice if some of the morning fog begins to dissipate. Just notice.
Sweet dreams. I hope that this week allows you to build your immunity and your physiology up so that you can show up as the best version of who you are.
Want a little support? Align & Awaken is a series of programs that will help you make small, incremental changes that overtime will have a massive impact on your health, your relationships and your connection to purpose.
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