With the hectic pace that most of society thrives on, 7-9 hours of sleep a night is not exactly high on most people’s list these days. We have mis-prioritized our schedules so that there’s very little room for adequate restful sleep. We have become really proficient at crowding out sleep in order to “get it all done” in a day. We have become so driven to exceed our goals and driven to compete with others’ success that we have become a sleep-deprived nation.
We take stimulants to energize ourselves for the day and we take relaxants to wind ourselves down at night. But what about the quality of sleep once we lay our heads on our pillows?
Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep
With the fall season coming upon us, the days will begin to shorten which means it will become darker earlier and our natural circadian rhythm will be begging you to slow down earlier in the day. So take advantage of this rhythm and acknowledge the benefits that 7-9 hours of restful sleep will bring you, which are:
- Experiencing increased energy for your day ahead
- Making good lifestyle choices like cooking, exercising and self-care
- Strengthening your immune system to fight off those colds and flues that come along every fall and winter season
- Amplifying your alertness, focus, and creativity
- Reducing anxiety, irritability, and mental exhaustion
- Increasing your libido
What’s not to love about a good night’s sleep?
Key Behaviors to a Good Night’s Sleep
If you want to hop off the “hamster wheel of life” and reap the benefits listed above, then you must change your habits.
Below are 6 steps you can take to improve the quality of our sleep so you function optimally the next day. If implementing all 6 steps at once is overwhelming for you, then just start with one of them. Choose one step below to commit to for 21 days and then add another step to commit to for the next 21 days and so forth. Within four months, you will be enjoying a lifestyle you haven’t before experienced.
- Eat a variety of whole foods during the day to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need to maintain your energy levels throughout the day so your boost of energy comes early in the day and you naturally wind down in the evening. For a list of best and worst foods to eat before bed, click here.
- Limit sugar and caffeine which are stimulants to your system. The last thing you need is to buzz with energy late at night. You could try drinking caffeine-free herbal teas after dinner though to induce a calm relaxed state.
- Consume largest meal at lunch and lightest meal at dinner. Digestion requires energy. By consuming a large meal at dinner, the digestion process will interfere with your rest cycle.
- Stop eating at least 2 hours before bedtime. The word breakfast means that you are breaking the fast between your last meal of the prior day and the first meal of the morning. A fast is necessary to give your organs a chance to rest and recover; your body releases hormones that regulate appetite control, stress, growth, and metabolism; and your memory cells form new cells that allow learning new information to occur.
- Crowd out late night snacking with a relaxing activity like taking a hot bath, sitting in a hot tub, reading, journaling or yoga. Be sure to turn off all electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
- Avoid beverages before bedtime to reduce the need to get up during the night and go to the bathroom.