Put simply, we need more quality sleep. Sleep is a holiday for the body, a time when every system has a chance to relax and repair itself. Think about how much time we spend scrutinizing what we do during the day. Now think about how often do you give your overnight recharge that same attention. I’d be willing to bet you spend a fraction of the time thinking about your rest and sleep.
Of course, what you do with your body and brain throughout the day influences how well your body and brain sleep at night. If you put a lot of junk food and junk thoughts into your body during the day, don’t expect the resulting neurochemicals to become nicer at night. And this only leads to a vicious cycle: day junk means less quality sleep which means more day junk and even less quality sleep. Inadequate sleep amps up the inflammatory system and causes you to store excess body fat, both of which increase your chances of getting sick and sleeping less. Not good!
You may have heard that the older you get, the less you sleep. While this is often true, it’s not optimal. We are naturally programmed to enjoy the physiologic ideal of sleeping eight to nine hours. Studies show that there is decreased blood flow to the brain of people who get less than six hours of sleep a night. Chronic sleep deprivation leads to many health problems.
To get started, try incorporating these things into your day to ensure more quality z’s:
Get exercise during the day.
This can be a simple as a 20 min walk after dinner, or playing a hide and seek with the kiddos on these warm summer evenings!
Don’t dine after nine.
Our bodies need some time to digest our food. The later we eat, the more likely our bodies are to store that food as fat rather than use it as energy.
Reduce caffeine and alcohol.
Stick with herbal teas and water. You can kick up the flavor of either by adding a citrus or warming oil like cinnamon.
Enjoy an earlier, consistent bedtime.
I'm an early riser, so earlier to bed isn't a problem for me. If you are more a night owl, try to step back your evening ritual by 15 minutes. After you've done that for a week step back another 15 minutes and so on....a simple trick that really works!
Remove stressful thoughts before going to bed.
Easier said than done, I know! This is the perfect time to use your five minute gratitude journal. Diffuse a calming oil in your bedroom. My favorite in the evening is Serenity. You can learn more about it here.
Make the bedroom quiet, dark, cool, and airy
What are your solutions for getting a good nights sleep?