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Hello, my fantabulous friends. Tonight is one of those rare nights (or maybe not so rare) where I sit here and stare at the blank page on my computer. I know what I want to write about, but I have no idea where to start. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the end of my workday for my 8-5 was pretty hectic. Or maybe it is because every dog in my house tonight is testing my patience. Finally, maybe it is just because I am tired and just need to get more sleep. With that being said, getting more sleep as a self-care activity is exactly what I want to talk about today. So grab your glass of water and let’s find the answer to this question, self-care – is it time to improve your sleeping habits?
What we have talked about so far
I think before we get started talking about sleep, let’s talk about the other physical self-care activities we have talked about. They are:
- Getting more exercise
- Drinking more water
How are you doing? Have you made any changes in your daily life to incorporate these self-care activities?
I am still working on trying to find a daily routine of getting more exercise in my life. I am pretty excited about some upcoming changes to my work life which should help me find that perfect time to get some exercise on a consistent basis.
Now let’s talk about water. I have been making slow progress in drinking more water, but I can tell you that I am drinking more than I was previously. This is a big deal for me because I used to never be a water drinker. I especially like how I am aware of how much water I have consumed during the day and I have had fewer headaches which I think is a result of drinking more water. Having fewer headaches is a definite win for me.
If you missed my previous self-care posts you can find them here.
Why is sleep important for self-care?
There are so many reasons why sleep is important for self-care. I believe the recommended amount of sleep for adults is between 7-9 hours each night. Not only do you feel much better throughout your day when you get enough sleep but it is also important for your mental and physical health and daily life. I am sure you wondering how enough sleep can affect these things. Let’s take a closer look.
Physical health – By getting enough sleep at night it restores your brain to allow it to work properly. Without this “restoration” you may be unfocused, unable to make decisions, think clearly or solve problems. I know when I haven’t gotten enough sleep I feel like I am in a cloud that whole day until I can get caught up on my missed sleep. Poor sleep habits can also contribute gaining weight/obesity or chronic health problems such as heart disease. Finally, good sleep habits can improve your immune system keeping you healthy from those pesky viruses that go around each year.
Mental health – Along with the physical symptoms of not being able to focus, make decisions or solve problems, you may also experience not being able to control your emotions or behavior or even remember information. Lack of sleep has also been linked to depression or risk-taking behaviors.
Daily life – Lack of sleep could affect your performance at work, you are more likely to make mistakes, take longer complete projects or just be less productive overall. When you are tired you may not take the time to follow all safety precautions for your job or even while driving and you could get hurt or hurt others. I know this from first hand experienced and trust me skimping on a few hours of sleep was not worth the months of pain I endured as I healed.
Tips to relax and get more sleep
For some of us, lack of sleep happens because we just cannot shut our brains down and stop thinking about the day, maybe a big project at work or just every day stresses such as relationships or money problems. I have done a little research on ways to help me fall asleep and I have tried a couple of tips that are listed below. You can check them out and maybe you can find something that will work for you.
Have a fixed bedtime and wake time every day – I know for myself I struggle with going to bed at the same time each night. On a typical night I like to be in bed by 9 or so ( I know I am old), but sometimes find myself working on my blog until 10, 11 or even later. When I go to bed that late I struggle the next day and seems to take me longer to recover. However, waking up at the same time every morning is not an issue for me as I find that as I get older my body has an internal alarm for 6:30. As a side note, just because I wake up at this time, doesn’t really mean that I want to get up though.
Have a bedtime routine – I used to do this with my kids to help them fall asleep and make bedtime easier when they were little so it only makes sense that I should have one for myself. This bedtime routine could be anything from turning off the tv earlier, laying out clothes for the next day, or reading a book. I do find that if I read before bedtime that helps me wind down unless it is a really really good book that I don’t want to put down and then I will read until it is way past my bedtime. My final routine (if you would call it that) is making sure that I have my small sleep pillow and a soft warm blanket with me when I go to bed. Just having these couple of things nearby can help me relax and fall asleep.
Power down electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime – The reasoning behind this is the light and stimulation from your phone (or other electronic devices) can make it hard to fall asleep sometimes. Again this is another thing I struggle with because I have been known to lay in bed for a while (much longer than I should) perusing Facebook, Instagram etc. instead of closing my eyes to sleep. Some days are so hectic that when I lay down in bed it is the only time I have to catch up on my social media tasks.
Avoid caffeine or alcohol right before bedtime – Not consuming caffeine before bedtime is probably pretty obvious to some, but many do not realize that alcohol is also a stimulant and can keep you awake at night. I can say, the caffeine part I do very well, as I try not to have any caffeinated drinks after 12 pm. What I have found is that if I do have caffeine after 12, I have trouble falling and staying asleep so I try to avoid it as much as possible. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a bit more tricky for me. I do like to have an adult beverage after a long day at work, but this is limited to one maybe two. Sometimes I wonder if I give up my nightly adult beverage if I would sleep better, although I am not sure if I want to try.
Additional things to try – If you find that you are still having trouble there are some sleep apps out there or even podcasts that you can listen to which will help you shut your brain down, relax and fall asleep. One app that I found and am planning to try is Relax Melodies. This app allows you to customize sounds and melodies to help you fall asleep and it also has various meditations that you can download and listen to. There are a number of items on this app for free or as always these apps offer a premium service for a monthly, quarterly or lifetime charge. If I do pay for anything I will probably go for the lifetime subscription of $19.99. Before I do that though I am going to test this app out and see if it works. A second thing that I have tried is a podcast called Sleep With Me. For those nights where I am unable to shut down my brain, I turn on this podcast and am asleep within 15 – 20 minutes. One time I was asked what do they talk about in this podcast and I really have no idea because I fall asleep so quickly. To my surprise I haven’t had to listen to this podcast in a couple of weeks to help me fall asleep, I guess that is a good thing. I should add that I am not receiving any compensation for recommending these tools, they are just a couple that I have found. Do you have any favorite tools that you like to use to fall asleep?
Goals to get more sleep
Similar to my previous self-care posts I want to set some goals to incorporate this self-care activity into my daily routine. This time I am struggling to determine what my sleep goals might be. My life currently is all over the place so a consistent bedtime routine might not be feasible but I know that will change in about 7 months. I believe I am going to set a consistent bedtime goal, but not as early as 9 pm. The reasoning behind this is because I don’t want to set myself up for failure the first night because I was working late on my blog. I would encourage you to look as see what changes you can make in your life to get more sleep. That may be setting bedtime earlier, setting up a bedtime routine, or as simple as putting down the electronic devices earlier. I would love to hear what your sleep goals are, and maybe they will give me some additional ideas to try.
The beginning is always today
by Mary Woustonecraft. I love this self-care quote because I am a true believer that every new day is a new beginning. No matter what you want to change or try it is never too late to begin.
Wow, I just realized that was a lot of information that I just gave you all, so I will keep my final thoughts short. I hope that even though I talked a bunch about getting more sleep that you find something that works for you and your daily self-care routine. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts or any sleep tips that have worked for you in the comments below.