Get More Zzzz’s; Sleep is key!
By Carmen Greger
There’s a reason our bodies shut down at night; to rest, recover, repair and rejuvenate for the following day. Our minds need to do the same. The quality and quantity of sleep you get on a nightly basis has a huge impact on the quality and productivity of your days.
To perform at optimal levels, the average adult requires 7-8 hours of sleep per night, teens generally need a little more at 8-10 hours and even more for the younger population.
Still, and not surprisingly, the cdc.gov reports that ‘1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis’.
There are countless potential negative impacts of not getting enough good sleep consistently, which include brain fog, lack of enthusiasm, moodiness, Irritability, physical and mental fatigue, lethargy, dozing off, overeating or snacking on sugary, unhealthy foods, increased caffeine consumption and increased risk of injury.
It’s best to establish a bedtime routine of small, simple and easy to implement rituals in order to program the mind and body to begin to decompress and shift gears into relaxation mode. This creates a system which over time will align and functionally train your body to rapidly respond to the specific techniques suited best for you to enhance the quality and provide proper quantity of sleep.
I often recommend to my clients seeking better sleep and an overall heightened sense of well-being, to start by organizing a life schedule to prioritize both going to bed at night and waking up in the morning at generally the same time.
It is also an important and rapid results-producing commitment to refrain from using any electronic devices one hour prior to bedtime, as electronic devices are very overstimulating to the brain and use of them just prior to rest produces the opposite effect being sought; your brain becomes wired, overtired and not properly prepared to turn off.
Caffeine should not be consumed after noon in optimal conditions, but certainly not after 5pm; the stimulant wreaks havoc on the sleep cycle.
It is best to have the last meal of the day completed two hours prior to bedtime, and should preferably be a light and healthy one, so that the body does not have to work unnecessarily to manage the digestion process as it is trying to sleep.
Herbal, non-caffeinated teas are a wonderful addition to a healthy bedtime ritual.
I often have Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night Herbal with Valerian, Yogi Tea’s Kava or Honey Lavender Stress Relief soothing serenity blend, or any organic Chamomile; part ritual, part functional, all yum!
It’s important to be hydrated, so having 8-12 glasses per water throughout the day is ideal but refrain from drinking too much water right before bed in order to avoid disruptive midnight bathroom visits.
Downloading thoughts on the page, aka ‘journaling’ is also a good idea, even if it’s just in a bulleted list form. Gratitude lists are a wonderful way to put yourself in a good state of mind for a deeper, more peaceful rest. Simply take out a piece of paper and a pen and list 3-5 good things that happened that day or that you’re just generally thankful for; it can be as simple as having running water, hearing your favorite song on the radio at just the right time, or that you had enough food to put on the table for your family, that Johnny learned to tie his shoes this morning before getting on the bus or that your childhood friend sent a snapshot of a pic of the two of you in second grade. Gifts are endless and an attitude of gratitude is a very peaceful, serene, calm and centered place to be in order to best set your sails and drift off to dreamland.
Another technique I offer is a mindful multi-tasking combo:
Once you’ve showered or bathed, brushed and flossed your teeth and have taken your multivitamins, lay with your bottom on your pillow where your head would normally go and extend your legs on your headboard or up the wall. This releases stuck energy and potential leg inflammation or discomfort from being upright throughout the day, as well as enhances circulation. Stay in this position for ten minutes.
It is ideal to add in the calming breathwork here (inhale deeply, exhale deeply, repeat), which stimulates the vagus nerve and decreases stress, tension, anxiety and mental chatter. It also lowers blood pressure, improves digestion, stimulates detoxification and enhances melatonin production. Light a soy wax lavender aromatherapy candle or turn on the essential oil diffuser for an enhanced experience. Bring in the joy, release the tension, say your blessings, your prayers and your goodnights to your loved ones, and you’re set and ready for deep rest.
Arianna Huffington, in her book ’The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time’ urges us to find the balance of doing and releasing, to silence the noise and amplify the importance and quality of our rest in order to achieve an optimal state of balance, well-being, vitality and success in all ways. In order to maximize our whole life experience, we can’t just keep doing without doing some undoing along the way. If we are going to work hard, and play hard, then we must also rest hard. ‘These two threads that run through our life- one pulling us into the world to achieve and make thigs happen, the other pulling us back from the world to nourish and replenish ourselves- can seem at odds, but in fact, they reinforce each other’.
When you are fully rested, and have zero accumulated sleep debt, you are much more likely to have an enhanced positive attitude, more mental clarity, elevated creativity, increased problem-solving ability, reduced risk of injury and greater rate of healing and increased libido.
Deep, restful sleep is key to having the energy to do all we do during the day; Sleep is the key that unlocks the door to a positive, productive, prosperous, healthy and happy life.
Do yourself a huge favor and do all you can to get better and more Zzzzz’s so you can get back out there, create and celebrate your best life and make all your wildest dreams come true!