During this month of rejuvenation, we are discussing ways that women can take care of themselves. One of the most important ways of rejuvenating yourself is by getting quality sleep. As women, we are expected to do a lot in little time, with permanent smiles on our faces. We get tired and even so, we tend to sacrifice sleep for other things. We need to change that. Just imagine...
At the end of a long day, you brush your teeth, shower, and slide into your bed. Lying there with the lights out, your mind slowly starts to relax, and your eyelids get heavy. You feel this rush of relaxation in every muscle and joint in your body. Then the moment comes that you close your eyes and let out a deep breath, your sleep begins. Later, you wake up after 8 un-interrupted hours, stretch out all of your body's kinks, and go to the bathroom to get ready. Your mind is clear, you feel refreshed, and the stress of the day seems small in comparison to how great you feel.
Then you suddenly wake up, it was all a dream. You just went to bed and had that lovely dream of sleeping for 8 hours and feeling refreshed, only to wake up and realize that you have only been sleeping for 2 hours. Now you are wide awake thinking about what chores and housecleaning needs to be done. You start making mental checklists of what you will do the next day, and what deadlines are coming up at work. You think of what you will prepare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and you remember that you need to go to the store to get groceries. Then you think of the business that you are also trying to run and you have a lot of ideas that you want to write down. So, you pick up your phone and start trying to develop your ideas. By the time you realize it, it is already 6:00 and your kids are waking up and you have to get ready for work.
We all need sleep, crave sleep, and try to figure out ways to get more sleep. You may ask questions like:
How much sleep do you need at night?
What does sleep deprivation do to the body?
What are the symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation?
How can I get more sleep every night?
How can I improve the quality of my sleep?
Sleep is a Necessity and Your Body Reacts to Lack of Sleep
We need sleep. When I don't get enough sleep for a stretch of time, I noticed that I have more mood swings. I feel excessively tired during the day. Think sitting on the couch and falling asleep in the middle of relating a story. I eat too much because my body feels hungry. This happens because my body is craving energy and it knows that food gives us energy. I also feel like I have brain fog. I feel like I am trying to function, remember things, and think straight, but there is a long delay because I am tired. It seems like my brain needs a rest in between thoughts and movement.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Sleep requirements vary from person to person. Some may feel that they need only 7 or 8 hours, and others may feel that they need 10 or more hours to be at their best. I used to say I only needed 5 or 6, but my body called me out and made sure I knew that I was wrong. My performance in everything was lacking with less sleep.
I have read different articles on sleep and the consensus is that adults generally need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Imagine yourself getting the recommended amount of 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Articles mention that better quality sleep leads to improved mental clarity (meaning, no more brain fog or going in slow motion, but thinking more clearly). When I get optimal amounts of sleep, I noticed that my stress seems to be less, even when it is not. My mind and body are better equipped to handle stress when I have had sufficient sleep. Which leads me to get along better with people. I love people, but I am less patient when I have not had enough sleep. My family loves when I sleep more. HA!
How to Get Better Quality Sleep
If you look online or research sleep, you will find that the body goes through different cycles of sleep. The cycle of sleep where you start dreaming is called REM, which stands for Rapid Eye Movement. Dreams can happen in other stages but is most common during REM sleep. The great thing is dreaming helps you to process your emotions. That is why I am less cranky after a good night's sleep. Just sayin'.
So how can we get to REM sleep and get better quality sleep in general? I've scoured the internet and found tips, tried them out and I will share them with you.
My Top 5 Keys to Getting Better Quality Sleep Daily:
1. Put Yourself on a Bedtime
This has helped me tremendously to prioritize the must-do things and let go of the things I don't have to do. When I say that I am going to bed by 9 PM, I start preparing myself by 6 PM. I quickly wrap up tasks such as getting dinner ready, playing with the kids, and putting the kids to bed. A bedtime helps you to set boundaries and make your self-care a priority.
2. Exercise More
Exercise has many benefits for your health. Experts recommend that you get 30 minutes of exercise at moderate intensity. When I am exercising daily, my sleep improves greatly. I feel like I hit a deep sleep faster, and that I even feel rested with shorter periods of sleep. My ideal day would be to get up, workout, stretch, (then go sit in a sauna for 20 minutes, if available), then shower with my favorite scented shower gel. By the end of the day, when I sleep, I fall asleep quickly, and stay asleep longer. Going outside and getting fresh air and sunlight is said to also help your body's natural rhythm and can prompt you to feel tired more easily.
Exercise is great, but it could also keep you awake if you exercise vigorously right before you go to bed. The consensus is to save strenuous exercise for earlier in the day. If you do any routine before bed, try strething, or body-melting foam rolling.
3. Create a Bedtime Routine
Creating a bedtime routine as an adult may sound strange but think about how much easier things become when you have a solid routine. Working on getting better quality sleep takes effort, and a good routine can help. My suggestions for a bedtime routine include brushing and flossing my teeth, washing my face with a warm towel, taking a shower or a bath (more to come on how to create a luxurious spa experience in your own bathroom), putting on creamy lotion or body butter, and putting on my pajamas. Once that routine is done, my body is already anticipating the next step of jumping into bed and melting away into a sleepy oasis.
4. Pink Noise vs. Rainstorm Sounds
Have you ever realized how good you sleep when it is raining outside? The pitter patter of raindrops seems to wash away unsettling thoughts in the mind. Since it doesn't rain everyday (unless you are in Nigeria, or a tropical climate during rainy season), you may need to use pink noise which helps to balance out quiet background noise and loud jarring noises that would wake you up. To find pink noise you could get a pink noise machine or look online for clips by typing in "pink noise clips."
I have tried to listen to the pink noise online, but I personally find the pink noise irritating on it's own. That is my opinion. The Pink Noise clips I heard sounded like a mix between a rainstorm and the sound of television static. So for me, no Pink Noise. I prefer the sound of a rainstorm including the subtle sounds of the drops hitting the ground. I search online for rainstorm sounds and I found one that I really love on You Tube. I even use it during the day to block out noise while I am working. It is great and once I take my headphones off my brain feels more relaxed.
5. No Screens 1-2 Hours before bedtime
The blue-light of computers, televisions, and cell phones can make bring on insomnia. Experts say that the lights from electronics sends the brain signals of it being daytime and it makes it harder for the brain to want to go to sleep. I have noticed night-owls that I know tend to be glued to their phones, computers, or the television. Then they go to sleep very late and sleep in late.
Part of taking care of yourself is to say NO to screens before bed. Once you get into your bedtime routine, you will hardly want to look at your phone because you will just be ready for bed. Turn off your phone and other screens and turn the lights off in your room, to get better quality sleep.
Try one or all 5 of those things and let us know how it goes. May your sleep hold you closely and your bed be captivating.
To help with sleep, try our lavendar scented eye pillows. They are weighted and scented with lavender.