Sleep Well!

A few tips for a better night’s sleep.

Are you sometimes wondering why you’re distressed, absentminded or cranky? It could just be a lack of sleep! Compared to 100 years ago we cut back sleeping time by about 30%. Our lives are busier than ever and this is not a bad thing. When you’re forced to cut back on sleep due to stress or insomnia though, it’s a different story. What happens while we sleep? The body is busy recovering: Bones, organs and tissue are repaired. Emotions and memories are processed. To be well rested, make sure you get in at least 6 hours – 7-8 hours is best for most people! No time for life?! Choose quality over quantity! And remember: Well rested you get more stuff done in less time – and you can enjoy it!!

Ok. But how to get back to restful nights? Try the following tips for peaceful zzz-time:

  • Add 15 minutes sleep time each week. Increase the time gradually, it’s easy and you’ll feel the benefit soon.
  • Routine. Routine sounds boring but it’s sometimes the only way we’ll keep doing what’s good for us (see sunscreen routine post). Knowing is a good start, but in the doing is the power. If you get in enough sleep during the week, you might even be able to get up before 10 on the weekend. Yay!
  • Ritual. Create a ritual before bedtime to relax and prepare your body & mind for the zzz. What relaxes you? Reading a book? Listening to your favorite chill soundtrack? Taking a bath? Meditating for 5 minutes? Visualizing your dream vacation? Think about what makes you feel good and enjoy it before you turn off the lights.
  • Calming your mind. Try a form of meditation that works for you. There’s plenty of different forms including yoga, dance, meditation, …
  • Darkness. Light lowers the melatonin level and can interfere with your sleep. Check out the light level in your bedroom tonight and cover unnecessary light sources. Examples: Get new curtains, turn off or cover luminescent electronic devices, or opt for a sleep mask.
  • Create a serene space. Look what surrounds you and what you’re looking at when you’re in bed. Move any potential anxiety items out of sight (aka computers, folders, schedules, calendars, piles of stuff, …)
  • Notebook. Store a cute little book under your bedside table. If you remember something you gotta do next day, simply write it down instead of worrying that you might forget. Write it down and say to yourself that you’ll handle it tomorrow.
  • Share responsibilities. Take turns to take care of your children at night.
  • Don’t force it. If you’re in bed and just can’t fall asleep, get up. Be nice to yourself, see it as me-time, make yourself a cup of decaf, read your favorite book or magazine and relax. Sleep will come. Always.
  • Morning walk. Go for a quick walk in the fresh air. The sunlight helps waking up (reducing melatonin level) and you’ll feel refreshed and ready for the day. Or join us at Bootie Camp – it’s fun!

And when you wake up, find one great thing that you’re excited about that day. Kind of like when you’re going on vacation: Even if the flight leaves at 5:30am, you just can’t wait to get up! If you can’t something to look forward to, create & schedule a fun thing to do that day!

Good night! :)

[Source: "Sleep like a Baby Every Night", in Women's Health 12 reports,  2006]

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Photography by Mary Sylvester.