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Essential Tips for a Good Night's Sleep

How has your sleep been lately?

As a helper and healer, sleep is about as essential to wellness as anything you do in your daily life. You know sleep is good for you, but do you have trouble prioritizing it when you have so much on your to-do list?

Sleep hygiene is the process of taking care of yourself so that you are able to get a good, restful night’s sleep. Humans need at the very least 7 hours of sleep a night in order to function optimally, but many people need more than this.

What we do during the day impacts our sleep more than we often realize! Some tips:

--be active during the day, especially during daylight hours. If you have a desk job, get up and walk around, park far from your office entrance, and try to move as much as possible.

--exercise is the best way to get a good night’s sleep! Just get your exercise in at least a couple hours before bedtime if it is high intensity.

--get a daily dose of sunlight--if at all possible, in the morning. This jump-starts the brain chemicals that help stabilize your circadian rhythm. If you can’t get sunlight, try a light box, found on Amazon for less than $30. (10,000 lumens 15 min a day).

--no caffeine after 3pm, no drinking alcohol 3 hours before bedtime; both of these affect sleep quality and duration.

Your bedroom

Your bedroom should only be used for sleep (and intimacy!). I'm strict on this one! No TV, no smartphones or tablets. If possible keep it tidy as you can--your bedroom should be considered your sanctuary.

--keep the bedroom at a cool temperature, ideally mid to low 60’s year round

--do not overload blankets or sleepwear

--use a comfortable mattress and pillows--you have my permission to splurge on this one! Seeing as we spend 1/3 of our lives asleep, it matters!

Getting ready for bed:

--no screen time 30 min at least before bed. Screens emit blue light—even Kindles and screens with low light settings-- that stimulates your brain to “think” it is daytime and will affect sleep onset and duration. Lowering the screen light or putting it on "warm" or "night" settings can reduce the blue light but does not eliminate it.

--do something physically soothing before bed: Soft music, warm bath (not hot), read books or magazines that are relaxing to you

--have a regular bedtime. If your body needs 8 hours of sleep to feel its best and you need to wake up at 6am for work, lights MUST be out at 10pm. Ideally beforehand, so that you get that full 8 hours! Make it a priority to get the sleep you need—it’s as important as eating and breathing!

--do some relaxing stretching, yoga, prayer or meditation--Calm or Headspace both are great options for app-based sleep meditations.

If you’re having trouble going to sleep:

--Write in a journal your to-do list and any worries. Make it as complete as possible. When you close the journal, say to yourself “I’m leaving it here, I don’t need to think about these things till tomorrow.”

--Use deep breathing: count to 5 as you breathe in through your nose, and count to 10 as you exhale through your mouth. Do this at least a few times. Notice your heart beating slower with each breath.

--Try progressive muscle relaxation.

--Place your mind on something soothing:

You’re in a forest watching a brook gurgle by.

You’re on the shore, sitting and watching the waves come in.

You are laying in the grass in a field watching the clouds float by.

--Do not stay in bed more than 20 minutes if you are tossing and turning. Get out and do something relaxing. No screen time! Read, get a warm cup of tea or milk, sit quietly in the dark, and then try again after a few minutes.

Thoughts on Napping

Brief “power naps” that are no more than 20-30 minutes can be great way to “recharge” in the middle of the day. Healthier than a caffeine pick me up! Longer naps will affect your nighttime sleep, so ideally keep those at a minimum if possible.

Our rest is essential. Without it, we won't be able to maintain our resiliency and bounce back when life throws us stress and uncertainty. When we prioritize our wellness and use sleep hygiene strategies, we are able to get our brains the nourishing rest they need to power us through our lives!

Need more help or curious about sleep tips for parenting? Email me here and connect up!

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