Often times, when things get super busy for me sleep can be the first thing I cut. In college, I prided myself on pulling frequent all-nighters and going off very little sleep. I knew when I did this, I was become sick more frequently and often forgetting things, but at the time sleep just wasn’t a priority. At least it wasn’t something I put on my priority list. The past year I made a big shift to ensuring I get a decent night sleep each night, and it immensely has benefitted my health. How can you make the shift? Here’s a few of my tried and true tips:
1). Do what you already know— Those tips you hear about every time the topic of sleep is mentioned: Don’t bring work or anything stressful into your bedroom. Leave your bed as a sacred place for sleep. Turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before sleep, as the screens can effect your brain’s sleep patterns. You know the drill.
2). Make sleep a priority— If you are running on a tight schedule and have a lot going on, you know how important it is to schedule things like working out or meal planning. Now it’s time to add in sleep. Commit to not answering (or even checking) emails or Facebook after a certain time of day. From that point on, you’re off. It’s no longer your responsibility, and those few emails can wait for morning.
Personal story: I worked as a wilderness therapy guide last year, meaning working as a backpacking/climbing/or mountain biking guide for troubled youth. Whenever sleep was not a priority for groups we could easily stay up way passed midnight building a shelter, and then have to either wake up super early to crush miles the next day or sleep in and through the whole next day off. When sleep was a priority, we could almost always stick to schedule and faced a whole lot less behavior problems. It was seriously so huge for me.
3). Create a sacred evening routine—This is where the magic happens! I have talked a lot about how much I love having a morning routine to set my day off on the right foot. An evening routine is just as important. As humans, our brains and body love routine. Even when you don’t intentionally set a routine, chances are you fall into one quickly (say, checking your Facebook, Instagram and email first thing in the morning?) If you become really mindful about this, you can use your body’s love of routine to your advantage. By doing the same 3-5 things each night before bed, you are telling yourself to start winding down. It might take a few weeks, but soon enough you will find falling asleep to be much easier because your routine is signaling rest to your body. It’s super powerful stuff. This routine doesn’t have to be crazy or even time consuming. Some of the things I do: Legs up with wall, write a gratitude list, journal, put a hot washcloth on my face (it’s oil pulling for your face: just was your face with your favorite oil, and then rest the hot washcloth on it. It’s a great way to pull out toxins from your face), put lavender essential oil on your pillow or forehead. Just pick a few things that feel really good, and do them consistently throughout the next week.
Do you have an evening routine or special tips for a better night sleep? I’d love to hear in the comments below!