This week, TargitFit is pleased to offer some healthy sleep advice courtesy of guest blogger, Brenda Bostwick:
It’s a vicious cyclical world we live in these days, hyper-caffeinated during the day and restless at night. We can’t fall into a good sleep so we have to keep our engines running in other ways. If only we could wake up completely rested every day, maybe then we would feel like we’re ahead of the game instead of just barely staying afloat.
Sleep is essential to the health and wellbeing of your mind and body. It is amazing we survive the way we do with the demands that are put on us daily. But we are just surviving most of the time, when the goal of living is to thrive. We could all use a more sleep, but how do we obtain it? Here are seven great ways to start getting the most amazing night’s sleep… every night.
1. Find the right mattress
The right mattress is like the right pair of running shoes. Slightly more expensive, yes, but you will never be happier with a decision than finding the mattress that cradles and supports you in all of the most perfect ways. One size certainly doesn’t fit all, and you may not get it right on the first or even second try. Do your research and find your perfect match; for example, these mattresses work well with platform beds.
2. The way you eat is the way you sleep
It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that caffeine, sugar, alcohol, eating too heavy (or too light), and using tobacco products can highly affect your sleep.
Tolerance differs, but in general caffeine has a half-life of 7 hours, meaning it takes on average 7 hours for half the amount of caffeine to leave your system. Try to avoid caffeine after late morning and remember to look at the ingredients of packaged products for hidden caffeine.
3. Physical activity is important, but…
While, yes, it is extremely important to maintain a physical activity routine, the time of day you’re working on your fitness can be killing your ability to drift away into dreamland. It’s best to exercise in the morning or early afternoon, giving your body time to get pumped up and then slowly come down off of the natural high.
Studies have shown power naps are super beneficial to brain activity, alertness, problem solving, and creativity. But napping too long or too late in the day will only keep you up later that night, lessening the amount of REM-cycled sleep you need.
While some situations call for longer naps, make sure your naps are between 20-30 minutes to avoid waking up feeling groggy. Thirty minutes is just enough time to give us a quick boost of energy without falling into the deep sleep process. Keep your nap routine in the early afternoon and keep the room warm and dark.
5. Routine and Rituals
Growing up, the majority of us had bedtime routines: dinner, bath, brush teeth, bedtime story. Most of the time we drifted right off to sleep and stayed that way until morning.
Just because we got older doesn’t mean we need any less of a routine. Life is certainly more crazy and unexpected than a toddler’s, but your brain still works best when it knows what is going to happen next. Creating routines is the best way to a good night’s sleep. If you follow the same steps before bed every night your brain will eventually start quieting down on its own sooner into that routine because it will know to anticipate the rhythm of the repetition.
6. Your bedroom is your sanctuary
Your bedroom is the one place in your home you should feel most at peace and relaxed. It is for certain activities only. It is not your office, tv room, or storage room, nor is it a place you put things to deal with them later. Your mind can’t rest if there is constant clutter or if it is continually being stimulated.
A clean, quiet space is best. Make it somewhere you want to be. Spend some quality time making a refuge. Find bedding you love, hang artwork, use an oil diffuser to fill the room with peaceful scents, use a humidifier to make the air easier to breathe, try a fan for white noise.
The room should be cool and dark, turn all electronics off and cover all lights. Also, consider getting a circadian rhythm alarm clock to naturally and gently wake you up.
7. When you just can’t get there
Maybe you’ve followed every suggestion you’ve ever been given and you’re still not able to fall asleep consistently or well enough to wake up rested. Well, here are a few more options:
Journal. Most of the time our minds are racing with all that stuff we didn’t get done today and all the stuff we need to do tomorrow. Just jot it down. Make this a part of your routine.
Leave the sanctuary. Sometimes, it’s just not time. And that is okay. But don’t lie there counting down the remaining minutes you have left until you have to be up, remember your bedroom has a specific purpose and lying there waiting isn’t one of them. If you truly cannot fall asleep, get up and try your routine again. Try to find the source of the problem and find a relatively quick solution to help yourself into as much sleep as possible.
Ask for help. We live in a self-help world. But, there are degrees that other people have paid a lot of money for to help you with the exact problem you’re suffering from, I promise. Let them do their job so you can do yours. Find the right doctor and try everything they suggest that you feel comfortable with, you never know what will be the missing piece just for you.
Remember, your sleep is just like the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the nutrition you intake. It is required to live, let alone live happily and healthily. What you put into it, you get back from it. Make certain you are giving your body what it needs so it can give everything it has back to you.