Nutrition and exercise get a lot of attention these days in the health and fitness world, but there is another majorly important aspect of your lifestyle that can make or break your health - that's SLEEP!
Here is an oldie but goodie article about improving your sleep habits which will in turn improve your life!
Hey everyone! Below are my tried and true methods of sleeping soundly through the night! Give them a try and let us know how they work for you!
1) Set a bedtime-
I can’t express enough how setting a bedtime for myself was a game changer in my ability to fall and stay asleep each night. I used to be someone who would make my way to bed when I started to feel tired which led to me sleeping in later the next morning. This cycle ended up leading to later evenings and several snoozes on my alarm clock the following morning. Lack of good night’s sleep for me resulted in a chaotic morning, crankiness by early afternoon, and lack of motivation and energy by the evening time. The solution- Set a bedtime and stick to it. Now, my goal is to be in bed by 9:30pm. This doesn’t mean I’m starting my bedtime routine at 9:30pm, this means I am in bed, lights off, glasses off, music or podcast playing in the background, and ready to drift away into dream land. My suggestion to those looking to create a bedtime is to be realistic and create a time that is achievable to you. My bedtime looks early to most and in fact, my peers regularly call me a “grandma” but it is what works for me. I know that I am someone who likes to get up early, but also needs at least 8 hours of sleep to function properly the next day. Set a bedtime that is reasonable to you. If after a week you realize you can adjust the bedtime to earlier, great! That means more sleep for you! If you are someone who needs more time in the evening to accomplish whatever it is you are working on, then schedule your bedtime to later. No matter your bedtime, the importance is your consistency. This will allow your body to fall into a pattern and that way when it is time to fall asleep at your scheduled bedtime, your body, and mind will be waiting and ready to go.
2) Begin nighttime routine earlier-
How many times have you fallen asleep on the couch watching TV and you wake up and realize it’s now past your anticipated bedtime but your still fully clothed? And now the last thing you want to do is stumble into your bedroom, change into your pajamas, wash your face, brush your teeth and do any other stimulating activity that might ruin you chances of falling back to sleep. The solution- Start your nighttime routine after dinner or earlier if you can! Change into confortable clothes that you don’t mind sleeping in, wash your face as soon as you get home from work and take out your contacts as soon as you can. Brush and floss your teeth as soon as dinner is over and the dishes are put away. This not only will help in your routine, but it also signifies that eating is done for the day and will help those of us who stuggle with the nighttime munchies. Starting your nighttime routine earlier will allow for a smoother transition to bedtime, with minimal distractions and stimulating activities.
3) Listen to a meditation app or read a book you’ve already read-
This has been a new habit for me. My husband and I agreed to not have a TV in our bedroom, for many reasons but one being that it’s distracting at nighttime. However, having some sound in the background is the surest way for me to fall asleep. About a year ago when the Serial podcast came out, this was my favorite thing to listen to before bedtime. I was captivated by the story and couldn’t stop listening. The problem with this podcast is that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d listen to an episode before bed and then my mind would be turning for the next hour or so and at the time, I didn’t realize how much this podcast was interrupting my sleep. Now after spending the last 9 months creating a healthy nighttime routine and sleeping pattern, I realized that listening to an over-stimulating and engaging podcast probably wasn’t the best idea. The solution- Listen to book or podcast on tape that you’ve already listened to and enjoyed the first time around. This will allow your mind to relax knowing you aren’t missing any new and valuable material but you’re still able to enjoy the relaxation of listening to someone reading to you. If you aren’t a podcast fan or a book-on-tape listener, try listening to a meditation app like Head Space. It allows your mind to calm and your breathing to stabilize which can help to release stress. The reader’s voice is super relaxing and easy to listen to which allows me to drift off to sleep within 10-15 minutes. I simply set my timer to turn the app or podcast off in 30-minutes and I almost always never make it to 30-minute mark. If you’re someone who can’t fall asleep to any noise, try reading an old book for about 10 minutes before bed. Anything you can do to relax your body and mind will assist in a successful and sound sleep.
4) Stretch, practice yoga and meditate-
Stretching and centering your mind prepares your body for sleep. Yoga helps relax your nervous system, which is the part of the body that is responsible for a restful night sleep. If a racing mind is what keeps you awake at night, stretching and meditation can help quiet the mind and tame your thoughts. After a stressful day, where our minds and bodies are working every minute, it can be challenging to relax come bedtime. It is so important that we release stress and tension from our bodies and yoga, mediation and stretching have proven to relax the mind, allowing for a deeper, more restorative sleep. There are many beginner guides to Yoga out on the “interwebs.” Do some research and find some poses or stretches that are beneficial for bedtime. Find a quiet space, free of distraction, dim the lights and do your best to center your mind. After about 10 minutes, your mind, body and spirit will feel more relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep.
5) Magnesium- the vital mineral for sleep and relaxation
Many people are deficient in Magnesium. It is a crucial mineral and is responsible for bone, teeth, muscle and joint health as well as plays a huge role in sleep and stress reduction. Our lifestyles deplete us of magnesium such as stress, lack of sleep, poor diet of processed foods, sugars and alcohol. Our environment is also to blame for this deficiency with the increase of pesticide use, poor quality soil due to factory farming and water filtration systems that remove magnesium that naturally occur in water. Magnesium has tons of health benefits but what people don’t realize is how beneficial it can be to improve our sleep. The solution- Eat foods high in magnesium! This includes, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish and even dark chocolate (look for 85% and higher). Also, purchase a magnesium topical spray to spray on your body prior to bedtime. Ancient Minerals in my favorite and can be purchased through Amazon. You can also make your own, just Google the recipe. Sometimes a small change, such as adding magnesium topical into your life can make all the difference when it comes to achieving a restful night’s sleep.
Other suggestions to improve your sleep:
-Avoid caffeine after 12pm
-Take an Epsom salt bath before bedtime
-Reduce blue light exposure from electronics/purchase blue blocking glasses
-Drink herbal teas such as Yogi’s bedtime team or Traditional Medicines “nighty night” tea
-Journal for 10 minutes before bed
-Get 20 minutes of sunlight exposure per day- helps to release melatonin, which is essential for sleep
3 sets of 5 at moderate/heavy weight, increasing across sets
12 min AMRAP:
5 Strict Handstand Push-ups
10 Overhead Squats (95/65)
15 Deadlifts (95/65)