A Love Letter to Sleep!
Sleeping is one of my daily pockets of joy.
Why? Well, other than the obvious (it feels so delicious), I get huge joy knowing I am spending 7 or more hours so productively. (Anyone who knows me knows I thrive on productivity.) Sleep is the Swiss army knife of health habits—it positively impacts literally all aspects of your physical and mental health. Sleep re-balances your hormones, helps your body and brain recover, assists with weight loss, improves your ability to say “no” to sugar and “yes” to exercise, and supports your immune system.
Now, I know that “getting quality sleep” is easier said than done! Falling—not to mention staying—asleep can be a challenge. No problem. I’ve got you. This month’s newsletter is a trove of advice and exercises that will aid your sleep journey. “Three Tips for Better Sleep” sets you up for better quality sleep, the exercises of the month are meant to be done at bedtime to help you fall asleep, and the suggestion of the month will help you actually prioritize sleep and put your wishing into action. Once you are getting enough sleep you’ll be better able to avoid indulging in what I call “unhealthy healthy foods”, you’ll have the attention to prioritize sitting less, and you’ll have the willpower to make exercise a non-negotiable.
Olive is always ready to play ball!
Before we get to the articles, I need to say a big thank you to all my Facebook followers. Because of you, my blog was voted on Flock Brain as one of the top 25 fitness blogs!
In search of some fitness motivation that you can listen to instead of read? Try my podcast interviews with Bevan James or Dr. Krause. I love the fact that podcasts allow me to connect with people halfway across the world! Looking to start an exercise program but not sure where to start? Check out my spread in The Eden Magazine
Three Tips for Better Sleep
1. Set yourself up for success
Hope is never a good strategy—you can’t simply “wish” your way to better sleep! Set yourself up for success. Make a plan. When will you start getting ready for bed? What do you need to do to make sure you get to go to sleep? Think kids, work, family obligations, etc. How can you make your bedroom friendly and inviting? Think temperature, bedding, mattress, etc. What situations, behaviours, people, etc. typically keep you from going to bed? Plan solutions for these problems in advance.
Create some type of sleep routine:
- Consider setting an alarm to tell yourself when to start getting ready for bed. Otherwise, you’ll realize you should be sleeping when you still need an hour or more to get ready for bed.
- Consider a screen cut-off time to give your brain time to get into sleep mode.
- Make a list of things that calm you down: meditation, baths, stretching. Aim to do one thing on your list before bed.
2. Get your sunshine, “close the kitchen,” and stop the caffeine
If possible, start your day with a bout of sunshine and end your day with a strict “close the kitchen after dinner” rule. Sunshine will help reset your circadian rhythm, and nothing keeps you up like sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and an overly full stomach. Unless it’s a special occasion, stop eating at least 2 hours before bed. Nothing healthy is ever eaten after dinner. I have a strict 8 pm cut-off time. Choose a window that works for you—but know that food timing is critical for sleep. Also, learn when you need to stop drinking coffee for your body to get a good night of sleep. The time it takes your body to reduce the amount of caffeine to half the original amount is called the half-life. The half-life of coffee is 6 hours, but the quarter-life (reducing the caffeine to only a quarter of the amount) is 12 hours.
3. Write out your worries
It’s impossible to sleep if you are anxious or have a to-do list running through your brain. Write down any worries/nagging thoughts or your list for tomorrow before you go to sleep. Also, have a piece of paper beside your bed. If you wake up worried or with an important thought, simply write it down; erase the worry from your mind so you can sleep like a baby.
The takeaway is you can’t simply wish or buy your way to better sleep! Supplements, blue light glasses and other sleep aids are not a panacea. You can’t drink coffee until all hours, consume sugary foods and alcohol, sit all day and ignore your mental health and expect to sleep like a baby just because you drink sleepy time tea or wear expensive glasses. There are no shortcuts. You can’t leap frog over the hard work of creating a positive sleep routine. You can’t buy your way to better sleep. Get sunshine in the morning, exercise, stop drinking coffee by 12pm, limit your sugar, move your body and consider some type of meditation practice.