You may know how long you sleep every night, but do you know how well you sleep? The quality of your shut-eye is as important as the quantity. Unfortunately many of us are not-so-great sleepers. One in three Americans is chronically sleep deprived and many of us wake up feeling tired. Sleep deprivation can result in irritability, lack of focus, fatigue, memory lapses, paranoia, weight gain, altered hormone production and lower immune function. “Consistent restful sleep is one of the most effective ways to maintain good health, reduce stress, and boost memory and productivity,” says Sara Menick, Ph.D., associate professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine.
HOW GOOD SLEEPERS GET THEIR REST
- Practice calm & slow breathing: Inhale for four counts and exhale for six, focusing on your stomach expanding during the inhale and contracting on the exhale. Breathing at this rate is soothing and calming to the nervous system.
- Create a restful spot: De-clutter your bedside table and and create a tray of sleep-friendly items. I keep a lavender essential oil roller bottle and a journal on my nightstand. I can jot down worries or to-dos if I wake up with my mind racing. Charge your phone in a different room and use an alarm clock that gentle wakes you up with soothing sound or light. Block out the light with blackout curtains or slipping on an eye mask.
- Plug into the right sounds: Use a sound machine or listen to calming sounds of nature to signal it is time to turn away from your day and sleep.
- Choose a few wind-down activities before you close your eyes: Listen to soft music, have a cup of tea, take a bath, read and/or meditate. You can listen to bedtime stories for grown-ups on the Calm App or be guided into sleep with a Yoga Nidra practice on Insight Timer. The key to an effective wind-down routine is doing the same things each night. This tells your body it’s time to get tired moving from the outside world into sleep.
- Skip the cocktail(s): A few drinks may make you fall asleep more easily, but alcohol is metabolized quickly. When it’s effect wears off, your sleep will be more fragmented, which means you’ll have frequent, often unnoticeable wake-ups that can leave you feeling exhausted in the morning.
- Wear the right p.j.’s: You might not be able to change the temperature of your room, but you can stay warm with extra layers and cool with pj’s made of lightweight material that lifts moisture. We are all different and may have different temperature needs than our partner. Dress yourself for a good night sleep.
- Diffuse essential oils: Essential oils can help you go to sleep and stay asleep. You can apply them to the bottoms of your feet or diffuse in your room. Oils that promote sleep are: lavender, vetiver, roman chamomile or blends like Serenity and Balance by doTERRA.
- Go to bed around the same time: Stay as consistent as you can with your sleep routine helping your body find a rhythm of sleep and waking hours. Find your natural rhythm and pay attention to signs of drowsiness before you catch that next second wind.
I wish you a peaceful nights sleep helping you feel rested and ready for your day!