I’m not sure when it started, but it seems like sleep deprivation is almost a badge of honor these days. Maybe because I’m a mom and everyone is swapping sleep horror stories. But then again, I know people without kids who brag about staying up late binge-watching Downton Abbey (or whatever cool show they watch). And I know a runner or two who are burning the candle from both ends to fit in all their long runs.
Let me just say that I am the type of person that functions best on 8 hours of sleep. Any less than that and I am on the grumpy, can’t think straight, coffee-fueled, struggle bus. I NEVER pulled an all-nighter in college. I literally can’t think when I’m tired so I always figured I would do worse if I tried to stay up and study. I’m also a committed napper. Getting 20 minutes-an hour of shut eye during the day when I’m pregnant or in those sleep deprived baby days is a life-saver!
I refuse to feel guilty about getting sleep because getting a good night’s sleep (7-8 hours) leads to so many positive things like:
- Better mood
- Better sex life (related to the above? Highly likely)
- Easier weight maintenance
- Less risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke (broken sleep over time = stress= disease)
- Better decisions and thinking
(For further reading check out this article.)
But HOW? How do you get a good night’s sleep? Let these healthy sleep tips guide you to your best night of sleep!
- Be exposed to sunlight and the outdoors during the day. Open all the blinds, go for a walk on your lunch break, and sit in nature. Getting in touch with your circadian rhythm will help your body to know day=up and awake, night=sleepytime. (This also helped us get Layla “regulated” when she was a baby. Getting those days and nights mixed up is MURDER.
- Get active! Wear a step counter to move more and be sure to get in a sweat session 4-6 times a week. Some people can be active right up to bedtime and then pass out just fine. For myself I like to have an hour or two after my workout before I need to go to bed so I generally like to finish my workouts by 9. You may need to experiment to find what works best for you.
- Create an evening routine. Take some time and think about all you’d like to do before bed to prepare for tomorrow and wrap up the day. After dinner I generally like to: clean up the kitchen and living room, bedtime with Layla, workout (if I haven’t already), and watch TV with Nate. Getting the chores done first helps me feel calm and ready to wind down for the day.
- Cull late night activities. Cutting back is hard, one great thing about having a toddler is we have a reason to be home every night by 8:00. While you may be a night owl and enjoy being out and about, consider limiting how late you’re out during the week.
- Turn off the electronics! It’s so hard isn’t it? I am often the girl who shuts down the computer only to pick up my phone seconds later. I always feel more relaxed and sleepy when I read a book before bed. I don’t read anything too deep or interesting (that would get me hooked and keep me up even later!), a short devotional or an old favorite book is perfect. (Jane Austen and Laura Ingalls Wilder are my go-to choices.)
- Create a bedtime routine. This is the things you do right before bed versus your evening routine of things you do earlier in the night. Mine is brushing my teeth, washing my face, flossing, and brushing my hair.
- Do something relaxing, just for you. It could be meditation, putting lotion on your feet, journaling, or listening to music, but spend a few minutes before bed focused on self-care.
Don’t you feel more relaxed just reading that? I sure do! I think the key is to reduce stress and create a calming routine around bedtime.
*Just a reminder, these are my tips based on what has worked best for me, not a doctor’s recommendation or a prescription for anxiety, sleep apnea, a teething baby, or a newborn. Please be smart and consult a medical professional if you are having serious sleep disturbances!
How many hours do you sleep at night? What’s your best tip for winding down in the evening?