I absolutely LOVE sleep. Just saying that five letter word makes me happy. It brings me to that warm, comfy place that I call my bed. Sleep time is my happy time. When I don't get enough of it, my mind and body suffer. So, why am I talking about sleep? Well, the past few nights I've been having major trouble falling asleep. You know the feeling when your brain won't shut off? You're not even thinking about anything in particular, but it just keeps going and going? That's how I've felt recently. Maybe it has something to do with daylight savings time, maybe it doesn't, but whatever the reason, it's had me thinking.
Whether you agree or disagree, maintaining adequate amounts of quality sleep is essential to optimal health and wellness. Quality is the key word here. I'm talking about uninterrupted, fully OUT, you ain't waking me up, kind of sleep.
I know a good night's sleep can be hard to come by for one reason or another. I know life gets in the way of catching those much needed zzz's. But the truth of the matter is, there is a direct correlation between sleep and health. By making a good night's sleep a priority, you get some hefty rewards like...
a strengthened immune system
focus and creativity
Reduced anxiety, irritability and mental exhaustion
These are only a few of the positive rewards from getting a good night's rest. I don't know about you, but all of those positives are wonderfully fantastic in my book! Getting good sleep makes me feel fully alive. It gives me the ability to work 13 hour days. If it weren't for sleep and exercise, I know for a fact that I couldn't sustain such long work days and be fully present for my clients.
Some of you may be reading this and think, "I can sleep when I'm dead." If you're one of those people, then maybe you'll rethink that old adage when you learn some of the negative effects of too little sleep:
Increased risk of chronic disease (chronic short sleep duration cycles have been associated with hypertension, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease)
Increased risk of accidents and injuries
Decline in cognitive function
I can full-heartedly say that the nights I get my beauty sleep, I feel and look infinitely better then when I don't. All the concealer in the world can't mask how awful I feel, no matter how badly I try to hide my puffy bags and dark eye circles. In reality, I know I get less than an adequate amount of sleep on any given night. I stay up too late and wake up too early. I'm usually exhausted in the morning and struggle to get out of bed the next day. Why am I telling you this? Because I'm human too! I'm not perfect. Nor do I want to be. I just want to be better today than I was yesterday. And right now, I'm trying to work on the sleep part of my existence.
Some days are going to be better than others. And that's okay. "Que Será, Será," as my Great Aunt Lily would say. Right now, as the hibernation of winter begins to fade, I'm making more of an effort to focus my energy on quality sleep and a better sense of balance in my life so I can perform optimally for myself and others.
If your restless nights are something you want to take more seriously, I have a couple of suggestions and ideas on how to improve your sleep:
Eat a variety of nutritious foods (make your plate a rainbow of colors and no, I'm not referring to skittles), limit sugar and caffeine intake
Instead of late-night snacking, try to substitute food with stretching, reading, journaling or connecting with a loved one. Digestion requires energy and when we consume too much food before we go to bed, it interferes with out bodies ability to rest.
Avoid late-night beverages, as this can lead to middle-of-the-night bathroom runs which interferes with our sleep cycles and hinders sleep quality
Try to eliminate as much clutter in the bedroom as possible. Even making your bed every morning can help you feel mentally clearer which aids in better sleep
remove all electronics from your room (it's harder said then done. This isn't something that will work in my household, but I know many people that swear by doing this).
Reduce exposure to light and sound. A fan or white noise machine can do wonders in minimizing distracting noises and has a meditative quality that eases the mind.
Create a bedtime routine like going to sleep and waking up at similar times every day so that your body can get into a healthy rhythm.
Reduce "busy brain" at night by keeping a journal and pen near your bed so that if you think of something before you go to sleep, you can jot it down and know it wont be forgotten when you wake up in the morning!