Sleep – everyone does it, everyone NEEDS it… but why is it easier from some than others?
The importance of sleep is undeniable. While we are sleeping, our body is healing, restoring, growing, and completing many other miraculous activities. During sleep, our brain is storing new information and memories, cells are restoring, muscle is repairing, the immune system is strengthening, and brain activity during sleep regulates emotion. Often we think of sleep as restful, but in reality it is a critical restorative function of our life.
At different times in our lives and in different phases or seasons, the amount of sleep that we require changes. Babies need a significant amount of sleep because they are growing and changing at a rapid rate, whereas people later in life require less sleep. The average and unanimous recommendation for sleep for adults age 18-60 is 7+ hours.
Sleep can be tricky though. Our lives are so filled with activities and responsibilities that sleep is often the first thing we sacrifice when we are feeling a time crunch. It’s truly a balancing act – how can you get enough quality sleep while also keeping up with your responsibilities?
Night Time Routine
Routines can be very helpful in improving sleep. As you continue to make habits and create a routine, your brain and body will start to associate these activities (having a bath or dimming lights, for example) with going to sleep. With time, going to bed and falling asleep will get easier. The key to this, though, is consistency. Consistency with the routine and timing. Herein lies the challenge for anyone working shift work or with children – you don’t always control your time! But even small changes, and mini habits can be helpful. Start with small activities that you can do no matter what, and build from there.
Tip – Utilize the wellness features on your phones and devices. Switch the screen to Night Mode to reduce blue light, turn on app timers to eliminate the temptation for the late night scrolling, and turn off notifications until the morning.
Wind Down Each Night
For most people, going to sleep isn’t like flipping a switch. There is period of time needed to ease into it – insert Night Time Routine – but sometimes the mind and body can still be very active even after being off your phone for an hour or so, having a bath and reading a book. Doing some gentle stretches and using diaphragmatic breathing can be very helpful in releasing tension and relaxing. Before bed, try doing some side bends or the ‘cat-cow’ stretch, and once you lie down focus on diaphragmatic breathing. As you breathe, continue to lengthen the exhale, focusing on gentle, calm, deep breaths.
Has this inspired you to prioritize your sleep?