When working with clients, sleep is one of the first places I look to heal from burnout, fatigue and chronic stress. I consider sleep a "macro-nutrient" like fats, carbs and protein -- we need plenty of good quality sleep for optimal brain and body functioning. When you get down to it, all roads lead back to sleep: mood, food choices, productivity, resilience to stress, energy levels. Like air, food and water, our zzz's are essential to survive. Where many of us fall short is that we forget to leverage this powerful supernutrient to thrive.
What is your relationship with sleep? Where does it fall on your list of priorities? Do you subscribe to the coffee shop slogan that "sleep is for the weak" or do you fiercely guard those sacred hours? In health conscious circles, "clean sleep" (like clean eating) has been named THE health trend of 2017. Exhaustion is no longer a badge of honor for the busy; the new status symbol is a body well rested.
Whether it's clean eating or sleeping, rituals are the superglue that help make new habits stick. When you bring intention, pleasure and consistency to a routine, it becomes something you want to come back to over and over. Sleep rituals are some of my favorites because it means the world is slowing down. It's a chance to tune into your body, your family, your environment and tuck away worries and obligations from the day and set yourself up for success tomorrow. Here are some top recommendations on how to love your sleep (so you can get more of it):
During the day:
- Good sleep hygiene starts hours before you turn back the sheets. Getting to bed early requires some planning. Embrace the "early bird special" mindset and shift your schedule forward. Give yourself plenty of time to digest, then rest (12 hours between dinner and breakfast is ideal).
Winding down in the evening:
- Signal to your body sleep is coming. Set the stage by dimming the lights in the house an hour or so before bed.
- Turn off anything with a screen. It's the perfect time to unplug with a book, a bath, cozy time with a loved one and savor a cup of herbal tea. Try an adult coloring book or knitting project or any low-impact, lo-fi activity that invites restfulness.
Just before lights out:
- Keep aromatherapy oils or lotion by your bed for a hand or foot massage. Tune into your breath and focus on the scents and sensations, letting tension slip away.
- Keep a yoga mat or meditation cushion by the bed for some gentle stretches or five minutes of stillness to power down. Give yourself a moment to settle into your body.
- Write down all the things you need to do tomorrow that are weighing on you. Let them go for the night and know you can pick them up in the morning.
- Feed yourself positive thoughts for your subconscious to metabolize during the night. Recall one thing that went well today. Give yourself thanks for getting to bed at an hour that restores you.
- Is surfing social media one of your sleep rituals? Resist the temptation to check your phone just before lights out. The blue light emitted from electronic devices suppress melatonin - even if it's just one last peek.
What are your favorite sleep rituals? Share with us in the comments!