Updated: Oct 28, 2021
In my previous post I talked about how good sleep is the foundation for good health, and how small changes to your sleep habits can have a huge impact on pretty much everything related to your overall well-being.
Today I wanted to go a little deeper into how you might go about actually implementing some of the strategies that allow for better sleep.
I mean, I think we all agree that sleep is super important, so if you’re struggling to get good sleep on a regular basis (~7-9 hours per night), where and how do you start to make improvements?
Let's look at a few best practices when it comes to sleep, and getting the rest and recovery your body needs.
The most impactful thing you can do to help yourself get consistent, high-quality sleep is to have a regular sleep and wake schedule.
Our bodies operate on a 24-hour circadian rhythm, and the more you can match up your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle with what time you actually go to bed and get up in the morning, the more likely you are to get the amount of restful, deep sleep you need for optimal health and wellness.
Whether you are a "morning lark" or a "night owl," following your own natural tendencies will be easiest (although not always possible considering society tends to operate on an early morning start for the workday/school day).
But if you figure out what time you want to (or have to) get up in the morning and work backwards to account for 7-9 hours of sleep, you can determine what time you want to be in bed and falling asleep.
Step two for creating a consistent sleep/wake schedule is to have some kind of sleep routine or ritual.
Just as you wouldn’t expect yourself to jump out of bed in the morning and immediately start doing a sprint workout, you can’t expect your body to go from stimulating daytime activities to a restful, sleepy state at the drop of a hat. Factoring in some wind down time in the evening is key to helping your body ease into sleep.
This might mean doing calming activities and staying away from bright lights and screens 1-2 hours before bed, and cooling down your body temperature by keeping your bedroom cold at night, investing in a cooling mattress pad, or taking a warm bath or shower before bed (your body temp will drop in response to the warm water).
Other things like avoiding large meals right before bed, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, getting sunlight in the morning, and movement into your day can also help keep your circadian rhythm on track, allowing you to naturally feel tired around your bedtime.
If you’re sleep schedule is on track but you tend to wake up in the middle of the night, all these things still apply and can help you get more uninterrupted sleep. You can also try breathing exercises (like this one), or doing a brain dump before bed or when you wake up in the middle of the night to get things off your mind so you can fall asleep.
(And perhaps this is obvious by now, but consider keeping your phone out of the
bedroom at night. If you must use it for an alarm, at least keep it far enough away
that you aren’t looking at it right before bed or in the middle of the night. Maybe try
a regular old alarm clock?)
If your sleep is not currently where you want it to be, you don't have to implement everything at once. Take it step by step, adding in one simple sleep practice at a time, or gradually moving closer to your ideal bedtime until you've created a routine that works for you.
Sleep is the foundation of health, and is critical to your overall well-being.
Having a consistent sleep routine and creating a sleep ritual that helps you wind down at night can greatly improve your sleep quality and quantity, and give your body the restful, restorative sleep it needs.
If you're struggling to create a sleep routine or get the high-quality sleep you need, you're not alone! Good sleep takes practice, and finding the strategies that work best for you is key. To talk about how you can achieve better sleep and better health, send me a message or schedule your free consultation call.
...for your free 30-minute consultation call, or visit https://calendly.com/meganfschall/consultation-call to get started!