Sleep – we all need it. Some of us try to avoid it, and some of us crave it. Yet for so many people, it’s elusive. We, as parents, protect our children’s sleep routines and nap times as if they were a sacred, not-to-be-missed, essential routine; your own sleep is just as (if not more) important!
Here’s how to get restful and deeply satisfying sleep, and make every minute of rest count.
Create a routine
Everybody thrives on routine. That routine will be different for each individual, but having a regular bed-time and wake-time will create a huge impact on your sleep/wake cycle. Ideally, you should aim to get 8 hours of quality sleep each night. When you sleep, your body begins to repair itself, which is why sleep is known as the inner physician. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), your liver goes through a process of repair starting at 11 pm to 1 am. This is why it’s ideal to go to sleep around 10-10:30 pm.
Make yourself sleep ready; try to power down at least one hour before bed to allow your system a chance to recognize how tired you really are. Keep electronics out of the bedroom – they can stimulate you and leave you feeling wired before bed, when you should feel tired.
Turning down the lighting in your home for an hour or two before bed sends a signal to your brain to relax and induce sleep. Darkness is crucial to a good night’s sleep! Use a sleep mask, install black-out curtains, do whatever you have to do to ensure a completely dark environment. If you do get up overnight, don’t turn on a bright overhead light – that will delay your return to slumber.
Be sure to have a comfortable pillow and sleep in light-weight, breathable clothing. Make your bedroom an inviting space; get nice, soft sheets, grab some new books, plug in an essential oil diffuser and create a space that makes you feel at ease.
Daily exercise, even for just 20 minutes per day, will help to regulate your sleep/wake cycle. Walking, jogging, biking, squats, lunges, planks, etc. are all FREE so there is no excuse – get out there! I offer many guided flows on my YouTube channel Simplicity TV (youtube.com/jennpike).
Cut your caffeine count
Excessive caffeine (in excess of 2 cups/day) can make you feel wired when you should naturally feel tired. Avoid all caffeine consumption after 12 pm and limit yourself to 1 cup or less per day.
Improve your food intake
Consume a balance of healthy fat (think avocado, cold pressed oils, nuts and seeds), lean protein and complex carbohydrates like carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, etc. Incorporate leafy greens daily…seriously, start a love affair with them! There are a ton of leafy greens to try: Swiss chard, spinach, kale, collards, bok choy and romaine, to name a few. Leafy greens contain calcium, Vitamins A, K and C and are packed with phytonutrients. These powerhouse foods will give you the tools you need to thrive and achieve a restful sleep. Avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed in order to promote optimal digestion.
Explore natural sleep aids
In our fast paced society, sleep tends to fall to the bottom of our to-do lists. This go-go-go mentality can leave you feeling stressed and wired, making it impossible to calm down and get to sleep. Sleep does not come naturally to everyone, especially when we are going through times of stress. If you’ve tried it all and you still can’t get to sleep, I recommend trying a product called Sleep Harmony, a sleep aid that includes specially patented lavender oil which assists with achieving deeper, more restful sleeps. You can find Pharmaton® Sleep Harmony™ in the sleep aid section of your local pharmacy and or your local natural health store.
Sleep is not an option – it’s essential, as essential as clean water, whole foods, or fresh air. Work on getting 8 hours of deep and satisfying sleep and your body will thank you for it!