Sleep is a critical part of health and wellness. I would argue that it’s up there with good nutrition and exercise. We take great care to watch what we eat and make sure we’re moving our bodies, but how much time do you spend on your sleep health?
Are you a bedtime instagrammer, twitterer or facebooker? Do you wake up and immediately check your phone? How do you spend the hour right before bed? Blogging? Watching TV? Meditating? All of the activities we engage in throughout the day, and right before bed, can influence sleep. A particularly busy day can leave you yearning for the pillow, while a stressful day can make sleep the hardest thing to do. Science is telling one clear thing about sleep: it matters.
My college years were wrought with “how much sleep can I get away with?” These days, I take a much more grown up approach and ask myself “how to I make the most of my day and still get enough rest?” These are my tried and true tips to sleep soundly, every night:
1. Turn it Off
Your cell phone, laptop and TV have no place in your bed or bedroom. Reserve the hour before your usual bedtime for quiter, screen less activities. Connect with your partner, read a book, focus on your breathing or meditate. Research tells us that daytime and bedtime use of electronic devices impacts sleep by affecting sleep duration and the ability to fall asleep, leading to sleep deficiency.
2. Brew a Strong Cup
Of tea, that is. A bedtime ritual that involves a soothing tea like chamomile, lavender or lemon balm can get you in a sleepy mood. This can be especially helpful if you’ve had a really stressful day and are having trouble shutting down and relaxing. All three of the herbs I mentioned are nervines, which means they are calming to nervous system. I love anything by Traditional Medicinals, but I especially love their Organic Chamomile with Lavender.
3. Sink into Bed
Literally and meditatively speaking. When I’m having a really, really tough time falling asleep, I use a technique I learned in medical school. I lay down in my bed, on my back with my eyes closed. I visualize my bed being as soft and pillowy as can be. Starting with my feet, I’ll image each foot sinking into bed, one by one. Next, I’ll move to my claves and do the same; next my thighs and hips. The process is quite slow and deliberate. But by the time I reach my head, I’m feeling ready to sink into a real sleep.
Your turn: How do you make sure you get a good night of rest? Are you a night owl or morning person?