When did sleep become such an important health issue facing so many people? I don’t remember a time as a child when I couldn’t sleep. I do remember not wanting to go to bed, like most children, but actually climbing in bed and not being ABLE to sleep – it didn’t happen. I didn’t lay there staring at the ceiling with a list of things that I didn’t get done that day. I’m not sure when it changed, but that cloud of thoughts now lingers above my head. It includes not only what I didn’t get done today, but also, what needs to be done tomorrow.
There are many reasons why you may not be sleeping well. Stress may top the list for many people.
Sleep is so important to the well-being of your body and mind. Without it, you are unable to concentrate on your work and you can become irritable and fatigued. The feeling of being rested and fresh gives the world the “best you.”
There are so many things you can do to help insure you a good night’s rest. One way is to create a “sleep hygiene”, which is a routine that you do each night before bed. It prepares your body and mind for a good night’s rest. Part of this routine is to make your sleeping environment comfortable. Be aware of the temperature of the room and the lighting, keeping in mind that this is where you wind down. Balancing your checkbook or even watching television should not be done in bed as it causes you to be alert. Pet lovers may even consider having pets sleep in another room. Although I do not take my own advice on this one; my snoring golden retriever does affect my sleep.
Other parts of your nightly sleep hygiene can include wearing comfortable pajamas, brushing your teeth and washing your face. Anything you do to prepare your body and mind for sleep will help you to unwind. “You need to be able to shut down your mind and clear your thoughts.” suggests Crossroads Fitness Yoga Instructor Rhyssa Ferris, during one of her relaxation and restoration workshops, “There are distractions all around you. Learning to concentrate on your breathing and not letting your mind wander will help.”
There are other tips to help beat insomnia that may require changing your lifestyle and some of your behaviors in order to sleep better. Try to wake up at the same time each day. This consistency will help your body begin to know when it’s time to sleep. Another tip is to avoid consuming stimulants such as nicotine, caffeine and alcohol. Also, some medications can cause a restless night’s sleep. In addition, eating and drinking right before going to bed activates the digestive system and can keep you up.
Another remedy for insomnia is exercise. By exercising regularly, you can improve your sleep, both in quality and duration. It is important to exercise at least three hours before you plan to sleep. Engaging in Yoga or other mind and body exercises can also teach you relaxation techniques that can be practiced when trying to improve your sleep habits.
Most adults need seven to eight hours a night of quality sleep. It’s during that time that we relax and rejuvenate our bodies. Sleep is so important for your health and well-being, your concentration and your mood. By trying to improve your sleep hygiene and creating healthy habits, you will be sleeping soundly in no time. Your “to-do” list will wait until morning!