For most people today, life is very fast paced and overloaded. We have packed schedules, pressures to perform at work, pressures to perform at home, relationships to care for, and an overwhelming amount of information to process. How do we keep our heads from spinning off?
Society is moving at an unnatural rate, and to help manage this, we over consume in every possible way. We over consume food, drinks, alcohol, caffeine, artificial light, information, and life experiences. This may work in the short term, but if we constantly rely on outer sources to keep up going, we will eventually crash.
Lack of sleep has the potential to lead to weight gain, loss of mental clarity, depression, and an overall decline of general health. Many people are effected by sleep deprivation and aren’t even aware of it. Often times this is because what we interpret as “rest” really is not rest at all. Leisure activities, recreation, drinking, smoking, and watching television are not forms of true rest. We are in such a constant state of hyperarousal that our bodies and brains have forgotten how to do nothing. This hyperarousal has led to a dramatic incline in the use of sleep drugs, and millions of people suffering from insomnia, sleep apnea, and depression.
The best way to get better sleep is to be mindful of the choices you make throughout the day. You can limit your caffeine and sugar intake, eat a well balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid late night snacking. It’s also been shown that creating a peaceful environment does wonders to promote restful sleep. Some ideas are to paint your bedroom a calm color, diffuse soothing essential oils, replace your mattress, clean out clutter, remove electronics, reduce light with black out curtains or an eye mask. and reduce sound with a barrier under your door, such as a towel or white noise machine.
Another key factor in getting efficient rest is to decide on a regular bed time and stick to it. Having a bed time will reduce time spent doing things that can hinder sleep like binge watching tv, eating, or doing busy work, such as checking email and keeping active around the house. As bedtime approaches, try calm activities instead, like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and, for some, reading works well too. These will all help relax your mind. Although there are people who claim they can function on 4-5 hours per night, 7-9 hours are highly recommended for optimal health and wellbeing. Knowing this, decide your bed time based on the time you have to wake up in the morning.
As you experiment with different methods of sleep and relaxation, I suggest you keep a journal of your results. Record the evening practices performed, the number of hours slept, the quality of sleep, your energy levels the next day, your overall mood, and any other information that may be relevant. Once you learn what works best for your body, you can align your habits to better suit your needs.
Getting on track to better sleep will take time and practice, but the positive effects will ripple across all areas of your life and you will love the results. Never underestimate the power of a good night sleep.
Wishing you Health & Happiness!