Are you feeling well rested?
Are you one of those people who is described as always happy and alert and full of energy?
If you’re not, wouldn’t you like to be?
One big piece of the fitness puzzle is sleep. It doesn’t get much attention though because we are almost always too busy to notice or to even consider it a really big deal. Think about all you have on your plate: relationships, hectic schedules, taking care of others, stress, illnesses.
There are a lot of challenges out there that we face on a daily basis. Sometimes the first thing to get scrapped is sleep and rest. We are always on the go, thinking of where we need to be and what we need to do and how there aren’t enough hours in the day to get them done.
But you shouldn’t think of sacrificing sleep in order to get things crossed off your to-do list.
Here are 5 ways to ensure you’re getting a rested night sleep so you stay alert, stay focused, and stay awake!
Get Your Cycle Regulated
Believe it or not, your body does like consistency and a routine, especially when it comes to sleep. It’s very important to try and go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every day. This will reinforce your body’s “It’s time to wake up now!” or “Get to bed!” inner voice and it almost sets you up on a schedule.
So next time you’re tempted to stay up late on the computer or watch tv, DON’T! Give your body the rest it needs and get it on a cycle. Even the small amount of light that a computer or tablet or phone emits can send signals to your brain that it’s morning. As this causes more confusion, you might sit there “wired but tired” for an hour or more.
Just like when you’re on a plane, turn off all electronic devices. They’ll be there in the morning.
Close the cupboards and the fridge doors
Ever find yourself staring into the fridge or the pantry late at night? You might not even be hungry, you just want to eat something for the heck of it.
That’s a big signal that it’s actually time to hit the hay. You want to go to sleep with a feeling of being comfortable, not overly stuffed nor stomach growling so loud it could pass for snoring. Ever notice that if you do eat a snack before bed that you end up tossing and turning?
That’s because you just told your body that it was time to get up! Your stomach is getting confused – “Why are we eating now? Is it time to go to work?”
So stop confusing yourself and just shut those doors, there’s nothing in there that you can’t eat tomorrow.
Get comfy and cozy
There’s nothing worse than going to bed and being really hot or too cold or hearing the faucet dripping. These distractions can make going to sleep a chore, and it shouldn’t be. So make yourself as comfortable as you can prior to sleepy time.
For some that might mean reading for a few minutes, for others it could be taking a shower, or just listening to soothing music or ambient noise. You’re basically prepping for sleep. Just as you prep your meals each day (right?) you need to prep for rest. Again, it’s all about creating the habit and the routine.
Just as you do for your fitness and food, a regular habit of quality sleep will be formed over time as well. Take a look at your bed – Is it like an office?
I know some peole who treat their bed like their desk at work. If you find that you have too many things on and around your bed, clean it up. Make it a space that you look forward to inhabiting every night. This will get you to look forward to going to bed instead of dreading it.
Cut out the caffeine and stimulants
This is probably the most difficult habit to kick. Although we don’t suggest completely eliminating any coffee or preferred caffeinated beverage, you should try to reduce its consumption closer to late afternoon and evening.
Of course, coffee and tea are suitable liquids for most people, but sugary energy drinks should definitely be avoided or consumed as rarely as possible. The energy those drinks provide is usually very short, leaving you feeling completely exhausted before the day is even half over.
Find natural ways to wake up, like going to bed earlier. Or use a dimmer in your bedroom so when you do wake up, you can slowly get up instead by increased light in the room of jolting out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off. Another stimulant is nicotine. So if you’re a smoker, this is just one more reason to kick the habit for good.
Avoid unnatural sleep aids and sleeping pills
I remember the commercials for Nytol growing up very vividly. The two pills were shown on the screen with the voice over saying “Nytol will help you get your Z’s!” and then two pills went sideways to turn the letter N on the pill to the letter Z.
Don’t ask me why this one always stuck with me, but it did. I remember thinking “I bet it must be awesome to fall asleep with those!”
See the problem was, I never got much sleep as a kid and a teenager. I realize NOW that I probably had some insomnia. I think I mistook it for “just being a night owl.” But I remember constantly yawning in class, always being asked if I was tired and why was I tired.
It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s that I started going to bed earlier and getting up earlier to go run that I finally, after 25 years of existence, got a good night’s rest. I didn’t need sleep aids although I was tempted to try them. If you do have a bad case of insomnia, it’s to your benefit to discuss options with a sleep specialist or your doctor.
Some natural herbs and ways to combat insomnia are:
Lavender in any form such as a bath scrub, a sachet in an eye mask or even a pillow or mattress.
Melatonin taken a few HOURS before bed, not right at bed time as is commonly prescribed incorrectly.
Valerian Root L-theanine It’s been said about 9 million U.S. adults use prescription sleep aids to ensure quality rest. B
ut experts caution these pills aren’t always safe or effective and their use should be limited. Try as many natural ways to get you your sleep before trying pills as a last resort. If you know you aren’t getting at least 7 hours of sleep at per night, consider some of these ideas. Take some of these tips to heart and try them tonight. Get into the habit of prioritizing your sleep so you can wake up tomorrow feeling well rested and ready to take on the day!