There are many benefits to getting a good night’s rest.
- Increased alertness
- Decrease risk of illness (Ever notice how you get sick around periods of high stress/low sleep?)
- Increase in energy
- emotions/mood perhaps more balanced
- may help to manage weight
Sleep is essential to good health but we often don’t prioritize it. When life gets busy it’s one of the first areas that gets sacrificed. Perhaps you stayed up late because of a deadline or to watch one more episode of the newest Netflix series or maybe you just can’t sleep.
For me, developing healthy sleep habits (or rituals) is an act of self-care. Prioritizing sleep helps me feel and be my best but lately I’ve struggled with sleep and needed to get back on track. I’ve identified a couple of ways to improve my own sleep habits over the years. Here are some of my favorites:
Get outside. Being outdoors during the day and getting natural light stops melatonin production and makes you feel more awake. Being more awake during the day will help the body wind down as the light starts to naturally dim in the evening. Living in the Pacific Northwest can make this a little harder at times so I also picked up a (SAD) HappyLight to use during our coldest, rainiest months. Making time to get a little light and fresh air is also good for the soul.
Brain Dump.Take time before bed to get your thoughts down on paper. Maybe it’s a to-do list or just the random thoughts/emotions that you have during the day. It can help to “release” those lists and thoughts before bed so they don’t come haunting you later. Once in bed, you can assure your brain that you already took care of these things or that you will in your next waking hours.
Cut screen time. Yes, even on your phone. I believe smartphones have shortened our attention span so much that I notice even if I am “reading” a book on my phone I get easily distracted and my brain wants to look up something I read or see who posted a new picture on Instagram. Having that much information at our fingertips is not good for sleep. One big way I cut screen time is to turn my phone on airplane mode and set it aside.Try reading a book or magazine instead or read on a device like a Kindle that is designed mostly for reading.
Take your time. As any lack of sleep sufferer knows, you can’t force sleep. Plan to head towards bed, with your own ritual in mind, 30 minutes to 1 hour before you actually want to be sleeping. This act alone will help the body get in sleep mode. Of course, you want to center this time around restful and relaxing activities like reading, taking a bath, or maybe even some light stretching.
Skip the snooze button. It’s super tempting to just hit snooze after a long night of sleeplessness but try to get moving anyway. This will help long term as you continue to work on your sleep habits. Our bodies enjoy consistency and if you get up at the normal time, it may be a little easier to get to sleep the next night.
I encourage you to build your own healthy rituals around sleep. While you can’t control your actual sleep, you can help create behaviors and shape your environment to make it better.
What healthy sleep habits work best for you?
Supplement I use for sleep:
I’ve used natural sleep aids in the past and haven’t had great success but I started supplementing with magnesium oil and I’ve seen my sleep dramatically improve. I have been falling asleep easier, sleeping deeper, and longer. Of course, check with your physician or naturopath to see if this is a good route for you. Here is the blog post I used from Wellness Mama on How to Make Magnesium Oil.
Here’s to good Zzzz’s in your future!