Sleep is critical to our health and an important part of our self care routine.
It is recommended that adults who are over 18 years of age get 9-10 hours of sleep per night, but more than 60% of adults say they don’t get enough sleep! Our bodies need sleep to function during our waking hours, so catching those z’s should be a self care priority.
Not getting enough? Here are six steps to ensure sleep is a part of your self care routine… every day.
- Routine! If it works for your 5 year old, it will certainly work for you. We have routines for a reason. If you do the same thing at the same time each day, your body will know what’s coming next and what it’s meant to do. Try creating a pre-bedtime routine to get your body prepared for sleep. Meditating is a great way to slow down your body from a busy day, quiet your mind and prepare your body for rest. Check out next week’s Self Care Sunday for our blog on how to meditate!
- Watch your intake. Both alcohol and caffeine can affect your sleep. Don’t get anxious about giving up rituals you enjoy. But if you are having a double espresso before bed, that could be the reason you are waking up every night at 3am. Just monitor your intake and experiment with cutting things out to ensure you are getting an uninterrupted night of sleep.
- Put down that screen. Bright light will undermine melatonin. So there’s a direct physiological effect to watching a screen before you sleep. As well, screen-time is always a high alert activity so it’s not promoting a relaxed state. If you are reading on a device, try soft light. But the best way to avoid the effects of screen time is to eliminate it for at least one hour before you lay your head on that pillow.
- Exercise daily. Daily physical activity will help put your body into a state of relaxation when it comes time to hit your evening routine.
- Evaluate where and how you sleep. Have a look at the environment you sleep in. Is it too bright? Too hot or cold? What types of noises do you hear in the room? Also, have a look at your bed. Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive. Most high-quality mattresses have a 9-10 year life expectancy so maybe that is what keeps you up at night.
- Focus on you. 9-10 hours might not be what YOU need every night to enjoy the benefits of sleep. Maybe 7 hours is all you need. Just listen to your body and recognize when an extra hour of sleep does you some good.
A good night’s sleep can offer some serious benefits to your overall self care routine. Make a commitment to having a look at your sleep routine and making it a priority. As you can see, it will truly affect everything you do during your waking hours. You’ll see improvements in:
- Replenishment – During sleep your body is repairing you from damages caused by stress, UV rays and other harmful exposures, muscle injuries and other traumas.
- Health – Lack of sleep is linked to unnecessary weight gain. The effect of sleep on weight gain is believed to be mediated by a variety of factors including hormones and motivation to stay active. Good sleepers also tend to eat fewer calories. Poor sleep patterns affect the hormones that regulate appetite. Lack of sleep has also been linked to heart disease and stroke.
- Productivity – Sleep is very important for cognition, concentration, productivity and performance. Short sleep has been known to negatively impact some aspects of brain function to a similar degree as alcohol intoxication. Good sleep can maximize problem-solving skills and enhance memory.
- Activity – Sleep has been shown to enhance athletic performance. A good night’s sleep can support in improved speed, accuracy, reaction times and mental wellbeing.
- Immune Function – Sleep repairs your immune function. That’s why when you are sick, the number one prescription is always rest.
- Social Interaction – Researchers believe that poor sleep affects your ability to recognize important social cues and process emotional information.