Burnout is totally a part of life for so many caregiving professionals. We give, give, give, and often put ourselves and our needs last.
If you're feeling extra exhausted and irritable an know your sleep habits need a reset, you're not alone. Most folks in the US don't get enough sleep, and in 2020 when there's work stress and parenting challenges and all "adulting" issues piling up, sleep can be forced in the background.
Sleep hygiene is the process of taking care of yourself so that you are able to get a good, restful night’s sleep. We 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:
--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 should only be used for sleep (and sex). 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
What if I STILL can't sleep?
Hack #1: 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.”
Hack #2: 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.
Hack #3: Counterintuitive, but get up! When you are unable to sleep, staying in bed tells your brain that your bed is a place for tossing and turning. So get yourself a cup of tea or warm milk, meditate a bit and re-set. When you're ready and relaxed, try again.
Give those a try--comment below--what do you do to help you get the sleep you need? I'd love to hear from you!
PS: Want more self soothing tips? Try these: