Lately it sort of feels like I could break the record for amount of times spent uttering the words “I’m SO busy”. But I have no plans of stopping – I love my job, my active family and my many commitments (including this site!) too much to stop. But there’s one thing I really need to make more time for, and that’s restful sleep. This is such an important way to take time for yourself and show your health some love, even when life gets insane. Thankfully I’ve been able to find a few ways to make the most of the sleep I do have, even when it’s not the ideal amount…
1. Cut yourself off. From the stress talk, that is. You know how you’re supposed to unplug an hour before bed for better sleep? Well, when trying to unplug, lots of us end up simply talking about our stressors instead. Talking things through with your spouse IS important, but when it comes time to lay your head down, continuing to chat about stressors often just winds us up even more. If you like to talk before catching Zzz’s, let your partner know that you want to avoid stress-inducing subjects, and they can catch you when you slip up.
2. Try a sleep mask. I know, the hubs miiiight not be completely on board with you sliding on a mask and checking out for the night (lol), but when you truly need a good night’s sleep, being in complete darkness works wonders. Numerous studies have shown just how bad light is for your quality of sleep – as it halts melatonin release – so having something to fall back on when lights from the outside world start to penetrate your bedroom is key. Sleep masks are also helpful if you get stress headaches… The light sensitivity is real.
3. Focus on your breath. A lot of people who lead busy, chaotic lives have trouble falling asleep because it’s so easy for the mind to wander. The next day’s task are already piling up while you’re counting down the hours of sleep you’ve already missed in the background. Sound familiar? You may need something else to focus on in order to keep your mind in check, and the breath is the simplest thing to shift to. It’s not something you may normally notice, but when it takes all your attention, your mind has a much harder time wandering. This can be very meditative and help you fall asleep faster than you think. Any time your mind wanders, simply gently force yourself to regain focus.
4. Squeeze a workout in. On the craziest of days, who has time for dedicating a whole hour to a workout? However, no matter how crazy a day is, if it doesn’t involve physical activity, you can still be awake and scatterbrained come bedtime. Your body needs that physical release, and it’ll help both with falling asleep faster and getting better rest. Keep in mind that for some people, exercising too close to bedtime can increase sleep troubles, so find a time that works best for you and monitor its effects on your sleep.
5. Get up if you have to. If you wake up multiple times in the night or simply can’t fall asleep in the first place, give yourself a break and stop trying to force it. Sure you should try out the options above, but sometimes you can’t control it. That doesn’t mean you’ll never get to sleep, but a cup of tea or a few pages of a book may be just what you need to reset your restless mind and encourage a trip to la la land.
What has been your biggest sleep issue? Maybe I can help.