Don't Sleep On It!
Author: Portia B.
My sister is an amazing new mom to my precious nephew. I have watched her master the art of putting him to sleep. She has learned exactly what steps to take: bathe him, change his diaper, feed him, turn the lights down, play soft music, hold him close and within 15 minutes he is down for the count and drooling!
It takes a little preparation to get a baby to sleep, but why do we think that is any different for us as adults? I never realized the deep benefits of sleeping well until I was in my senior year of college when I was overloaded with responsibilities. I would come home from my second shift job at 10 pm or later, shower and go to bed. Every night I would toss and turn and each morning I would wake up still tired (sound familiar?) I was over caffeinating myself to compensate (which I would later find out contributed to my sleeplessness) but the cycle continued. I decided enough was enough and I started putting pen to paper, planning so I didn’t have to have a crazy sleep schedule anymore!
Like babies, we too need to wind down. We should prepare for bed like we prepare for work because we spend about as much time sleeping as we do at our jobs. I slowly began adding some bedtime rituals in order to get better sleep. While my sleep habits aren't perfect, I get a lot more quality sleep than I ever have in my life. Here are a few tips to help you sleep like a baby:
Do almost nothing before bed
I used to think this was the most ridiculous sounding suggestion until I started trying it. If my bedtime is 11:30 pm, by 10:30 pm I turn off all screens (phone, tv, and laptop screens disturb our circadian rhythm and inhibits our ability to have a consistent sleep schedule.) The only activities I allow myself to do are journaling, reading, meditating and stretching. If I can swing it, I will keep the lights low for at least part of that hour before actually attempting to sleep so my brain can begin to create melatonin.
Train your brain
Smell is an amazing way to trigger your brain's memory. Roll your fave essential oil on your pressure points or light a candle to help tell you brain it's time to rest. But don't stop at smell, use all your senses. Drink something warm, make a sleepy time playlist, do something to release the physical tension in your body. Don't take the simjple things for granted and set the mood. The key here is consistency. The more you use the same smells, flavors, and sounds before bed, the more effective it will be.
Prep your body
Our bodies do SO much work as we sleep. Our skin repairs itself, our digestive systems work hard, hormones are released and a ton of other things. We need to show our bodies love before bed not only to prepare for the work we do while sleeping but also to relieve tension caused by our daily lives. I love to stretch before bed and mainly focus on opening my hips and stretching my lower back. Legs up a wall pose is also a fantastic way to reverse the effects of the day.
Prepare for the next day
Remember how you used to lay out your clothes the night before the first day of school? Go back to doing that. Seriously! This is crucial. Being well prepared for the next day means there is one less thing on your mind before bed. Pack your bag for work or school, have your lunch and all your snacks set aside. Prep as much as you can before you hit the bed.
Caring for your mind and body go hand in hand. As young people we often fail to prioritize getting a good night's rest. Just like meditation or preparing a meal we need to put more effort into sleeping well. Many of us do NOT get the sleep we need and we have learned to live while running on 4 hours of sleep. It always will catch up with us. Throw away that "sleep when you're dead" mentality and get your 7-8 hours a night so you can be at your best.