“The best way to learn is through the powerful force of rhythm.” - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Ironically, as I sit here writing this blog post about the importance of sleep I’m feeling groggy and having a hard time concentrating due to not getting enough sleep last night! My 14-year-old was in a baseball tournament this weekend. Yesterday his team played three back-to-back games and we were up early to get ready and out the door and didn’t return until almost 11:30 pm. It was a long, hot day in the sun and we were exhausted by the time we got home. This morning we were up by 6 am and out the door by 8 am. Needless to say, no one got enough sleep last night. There are definitely times when you can’t help not getting the optimal amount of sleep. This instance was one of them.
Usually, we have a lot more control over our sleep patterns than we realize. This week during the 30 Day Self-Care Challenge we are going to break down SLEEP. We will take a look at your sleep hygiene; getting into a rhythm, creating healthy sleep habits, a sleep sanctuary, and a sleep routine are essential to getting your zzz’s.
Let’s start in your bedroom where the magic happens (no, not that kind of magic, though sex does help with sleep!) Your bedroom should be for two things- sex and sleep. It should be a sanctuary; a place where you feel relaxed, comfortable, and peaceful. Here are some simple ideas to get you started.
1- Clear your room of papers and clutter. Nothing squashes relaxation like a bunch of papers that remind you of things that you have to do!
2- Dust and clean your room and add a houseplant. Plants are thought to be beneficial by possibly helping to detoxify the air you breathe while providing the beauty of nature.
3- Take stock of your bed. How old is your mattress? Are your pillows supportive and bedding comfortable? Even if you are not able to replace your mattress, a simple change such as a new pillow or bedding can be just the change that you need to entice you into bed!
When we are born we have a natural rhythm: sleep, eat, wake, sleep, eat, wake. We know that rhythm is a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound. Our body has a “master clock” built in to support sleep. Part of this master clock is the circadian rhythm. The amount of light that we are exposed to, particularly artificial light (a.k.a. cell phones and computers) is to blame for many of the problems that we face when it comes to falling asleep when we are getting sleepy. Our bodies depend on the rhythm of nature. The sun comes up at dawn and we wake up; the sun goes down at dusk and we get sleepy. But in modern times we are faced with a non-stop mindset that we must be productive, so we work late into the night, long after the sun has gone down and we stare at the blue light on our cell phones and computers. Undoing these bad habits is going to take some awareness and some work. Pick one of these ideas to put you back on track.
1- When the sun goes down, turn the house lights down. Turn off lights in rooms that aren’t being used and dim the lights in rooms that are being used, either with a dimmer switch or lower watt bulbs.
2- Make sure that you get enough sunlight during the day. Sunlight during the day helps to regulate your body’s natural rhythm. Move your body at the same time and you’ve conquered another of the culprits- lack of movement or exercise. So, get outside for that break from all of the Zoom calls and take a walk!
3- Avoid late-night meals or heavy snacks; ditch the glass (or two) of wine. Alcohol doesn’t help you fall asleep. I promise.
“Sleep recalibrates our emotional brain circuits, allowing us to navigate next-day social and psychological challenges with cool-headed composure.” Matthew Walker, PhD
Next, let’s talk about a bedtime routine to allow you to get sleepy. When my kids were little I looked forward to bedtime (bedtime=me time.) We had a routine: bathtime, grab a small snack, brush teeth, read books until they(read “I”) fell asleep. Adults, young and old, and teens need a bedtime routine. And, you’re not gonna like this, but said routine should not consist of scrolling on your cell phone until you are ready to go to bed! That blue light is killing your sleep vibe! So read on for some suggestions of how you can incorporate some new habits into a bedtime routine.
1- Take a hot bath to help you relax. Pour in some lavender oil to prime you for sleep.
2- Dim the lights in your bedroom at least 30 minutes before bedtime and grab a book to read.
4- Find another room to charge your cell phone. Get yourself an alarm clock, or set an alarm on your watch instead of your cell phone.
As with all of The Four Seeds of Self-Care, start small. But START. Small, consistent steps build upon one another until finally, you’ve created new habits that support you in being self-centered!
With Love & Gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel