Are you getting enough sleep? Is sleep an area of your life that needs improvement. I struggled with this for decades. I truly believed sleep was overrated, only to find out it is an essential role in your health and wellbeing. The shocking thing is, I'm not alone in this sleep struggle, with modern technology affecting our body's natural circadian rhythm, 80 million American's get inadequate sleep, I thought I would share the tips I have found most useful as a guide to healthier sleep. “The quality of life you lead largely depends on how well you sleep at night.”
Creating an environment for sleep: Rejuvenate and reward your body with these secrets for restful sleep. Create a conducive environment for change. You've made the DECISION to improve your sleeping habits, that decision is the most important part for a successful change. What can control the urge and even stop the bad habits (that are affecting your quality of sleep), is creating an environment that’s conducive for change. Remember, our environment influences our habits more than you think and we often compete against our environment. Making a conscious effort to control and create your environment can make changing easier. Here are some tips on how to create a conducive environment for change:
Create friction. Focus your energy on making it hard to continue bad habits. Move your television out of the bedroom to promote healthy sleep habits. Take another route home from work to avoid your favorite coffee shop. Stock the fridge with water to stop yourself from reaching for a soda. When you do this, it makes healthy habits easier to do.
Control your environment. Controlling your environment means equipping it with everything you need to succeed in implementing the change that you want. It is more than removing temptations, it’s about taking the actions needed to transform your environment to support the changes you desire to me.
Task association. Task association is a way to train your brain to complete a task automatically. Light a scented candle at night while practicing mindfulness. Each time you do, your brain will associate that task with that scent. This can also be practiced in other ways. For example, if you frequently eat at your desk, remove all snacks from near your desk to associate your desk as a place of work, not eating.
Healthy support system. All of these tasks are more difficult when you start to implement change, yet don’t have support. Continue to build your health bubble and promote optimal health and wellbeing. When others are aware of the lifestyle you are leading they will either align themselves or be considerate of the efforts you are trying to make.
Identify your WHY. Define why quality of sleep and optimizing your energy is important to you. Clearly identify WHY you have decided to prioritize your rest, energy management, and optimize your quality of sleep.
Create a Morning Routine. Starting your day off right, truly impacts the rest of your day.
Start your morning off with doable steps like making your bed.
Create an Evening Routine. Establishing a routine of how you wind down the end of your day, turn the day off and be able to enjoy a restful sleep.
Makeover Your Bedroom. Creating an environment for healthy, quality sleep starts with making your bedroom a comfortable, sleep inducing space. Having worked with many clients on improving their quality of sleep we often find our bedrooms can be part of the problem and that re-evaluating our sleeping spaces can be a drug-free way to treat many sleeping issues. Here are some tips:
Let go of the clutter. The first step of auditing a bedroom for optimal rest is to remove anything we don’t need because clutter can cause stress and anxiety. Remove excessive books, electronics, unfolded laundry, exercise equipment, stacks of bills and other work. Neaten up any objects that must be left out before you make your per-bedtime bathroom stop, so you're ready to relax once you hit the pillow.
Light. While you are letting things go, it’s also best to remove electronics from the bedroom. Not just because they’re distracting, but also because their light can affect sleep. Cable boxes, digital alarm clocks and other devices should not be in the space. However, that isn’t always realistic. So, often if these items can't be removed we suggests hiding them, like the television in an armoire or cabinet, or the phone in a draw or cabinet. Put your lights on a dimmer and use the lowest setting and avoid fluorescent bulbs in the bedroom. You can buy special night lights that don't have blue light. Apple can actually geo-locate your position at night and can turn down the blue light after sunset. Also if you need to read something, there are special inexpensive glasses you can buy that will filter out the blue light. Scented candles are fine as long as you remember to blow them out before getting too sleepy. Once the lights are out, make sure your room is completely dark, free of moonlight, streetlights, or glowing clocks and other electronic devices, especially the TV. If necessary, invest in blackout curtains, blinds, or shutters. When you successful eliminate the light at night it's great to start the day off right with a dawn simulator instead of an alarm clock. The dawn simulator, a light that increases in intensity gradually at a time you pre-set. As the light falls on your eyes, your brain gets the message to reduce melatonin, preparing your body to wake up naturally.
Your Bed. Take the time to ensure your comfort and that your body is properly supported. Take your time choosing a mattress that's the right level of firmness for you. A good mattress can improve your sleep and thus improve your health. We also spend hours each day on our mattresses, so investing in a quality one should be the utmost priority. Comfort is the ability of a mattress to spread body weight over the sleep surface to relieve pressure points. Support is the ability of a mattress to maintain spinal alignment while you sleep. Make sure your spine is aligned neutrally with your pillow, not too high or too low. Bedding plays a big role in sleep. The higher the thread count, the better the sleep for comfort level but a thread count over 400 may trap body heat, which can be a problem if you are a hot sleeper. Hot sleepers may want to consider bedding designed to stay cool such as the newly launched bamboo rayon line. Most people aim for a thread count between 280 and 450. But at the same time, it’s a personal choice: we all know what feels the most comfortable to us. Making the bed every single day can actually help us sleep better at night. A made bed creates a neater space visually. Turning down a made bed at bedtime is one of several steps of an effective pre-sleep routine that serves as a cue to help us transition from wake to sleep. Crawling into a neatly made bed at bedtime can promote a pleasant feeling of comfort and relaxation.
Color. Choose colors conducive to sleep, you want soothing colors to encourage sleep. Cool colors like light blue, gray, silver, green, and lavender as well as neutral shades are ideal for the bedroom. Cool colors have been found to lower blood pressure and heart rate to help ensure a proper night's sleep. Soft pastels are calming colors. Don’t forget about the finish. flat paint finish as opposed to glossy keeps the colors softer.
Sound. Keep it quiet. It is very important for your bedroom to be as quiet as possible. You can add an air purifier to create white noise and additionally purify your room. Also, you can buy as sound machine that plays ocean waves, forest noise, or other relaxing sounds. Rugs can help reduce noise, especially if one partner wakes up while the other is still sleeping and needs to get out of bed with hardwood floors below. Bedroom area rugs are typically placed underneath the lower two-thirds of the bed. This is so you will have a soft area to get in and out of bed in the morning. If reducing noise is a priority, upholstered furniture, especially beds are ideal. A proponent of ceiling fans. The air movement and white noise they provide is relaxing and helps with sleep. Fabric wall hangings and tapestries can also aid in noise reduction.
Scent. Try aromatherapy scents like chamomile, jasmine, lavender, neroli, rose, sandalwood, or sweet marjoram. Add essential oils to a dispenser or a hot bath, or just put a few drops on a handkerchief and slip it into your pillowcase.
Your Temperature. Make sure your bed doesn't get too hot or too cold during the night. Far-infrared quilts, sheets, and pillows can help keep your body temperature neutral. Avoid electric blankets, which can interfere with sleep. Also, wear light comfortable clothes and avoid down quilts that can overheat you.
Ventilation. Cool the room to 68 degrees or lower, and maintain adequate ventilation.
Remember improving your quality of sleep will improve your energy and that long term lack of sleep as a serious toll on the body. Studies have shown that chronic lack of sleep can:
Lead to weight gain
Adversely impact learning and memory
Compromise your immune system
Elevate your blood pressure
Create symptoms of ADHD
Contribute to mental and emotional health issues.
So don't take the habit of healthy sleep lightly. Use some of the tips above to get the best sleep possible.
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