So many of us have struggled with sleep at one point or another. Whether it's falling asleep, or staying asleep, it can have significant ramifications on your health! Lack of sleep leads to more than just low energy, it can affect all other body systems and exacerbate symptoms ranging from anxiety to digestive issues to pain.
During sleep, our parasympathetic nervous systems should be more active - that's our "rest and digest" mode. In this relaxed state, our bodies process everything we've put them through during our chaotic days, and work on building ourselves back up. Did you do a tough workout today? Or have a stressful day at work? Your body needs sleep tonight to counter that and repair itself, so that these consistent stressors won't have long term detrimental effects on your body!
So let's work on some strategies to get a solid stretch of quality sleep!
Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash
One of my first questions for patients with sleep trouble, is if they have a routine before going to bed. We had routines to be put to bed as children, so why should that change as adults? It's not realistic to go-go-go, right up until bed, and expect your body to automatically switch "off" and get quality sleep. Instead, think of putting yourself to bed like putting a child to bed - it helps to have a process and routine to wind yourself down and prep for bedtime.
Not sure how to wind it down? This will look different for everybody, but you can start by experimenting with some of the following suggestions to see what works best for you:
Making a cup of tea (ex: chamomile)
Applying or diffusing essential oils (ex: lavender)
Taking a bath or foot soak
Where you sleep can affect the quality of your sleep, as well. Control your environment! The ideal environment for sleep is generally:
Dark (do you have light-blocking shades?)
Screen-free (no televisions, computers, or cell phones)
Bonus points for a de-cluttered space where you can relax, with luxurious sheets that you look forward to crawling into! Create a sleep sanctuary for yourself that you love.
Did you know that what you do during the day can affect your sleep? Prepping for a good night's sleep actually starts first thing in the morning! Your activity during the day affects the cycle between cortisol and melatonin, and therefore your circadian rhythm.
In the morning - set your circadian rhythm off right!
Move your body (whether it's a quick stretch or your full work out)
Expose yourself to sunlight
If you're going to consume caffeine, keep it to the morning (before noon!)
Be conscious of the quantity - caffeine is a powerful stimulant, and can affect your sleep at night even when consumed in the morning
Avoid late night work outs when possible- this can increase cortisol and rev you up before bed
Slow it down for at least two hours before bed
The blue light from screens can also increase cortisol, so limit exposure before bed
Do you sleep well? Do you wake feeling rested and energized? What are your sleep strategies?