If you were honest with yourself, where does sleep fall on your priory list? For most, near the bottom. If you want to develop better self-care habits, sleep needs to become a top priority in your life, and making sure you’re getting the adequate amount!
The importance of sleep
Sleep is essential; the problem is that hustle culture tells us to work harder, usually costing us our much-needed hours of Z’s. Sleep helps with memory, detoxification of the body, resting the eyes, can affect your mood, and so much more.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your energy dips throughout the day. This dip usually causes us to make bad eating decisions, prioritizing sugar over health, and often makes us too tired to do anything but the minimum, ending in an unproductive day.
Choosing to get enough sleep means making it a priority and setting yourself up at night to get that night of restful sleep, and making sure you stick to it. When you do this, you set your entire day up for success and give yourself the best chances of success and happiness.
How to get more sleep
Now that We’ve convinced you that getting enough sleep is essential, and you should consider taking a hard look at it, let’s talk about how to increase your sleep effectiveness.
How much sleep do you need?
Well, unfortunately, there isn’t a right answer here. Some people will operate better on more, some on less. The main goal is to get a minimum of 4 sleep cycles and a max of 6. Since a sleep cycle is 1.5 hours, you want to aim somewhere between 6-9 hours of sleep! Play around with the tips below and see what works best for you!
Tip #1: Set a realistic bedtime allowance
When it comes to setting your bedtime, make sure you leave time to fall asleep. For some, it will be 15-20 min (lucky). For others, it will be 45min. Plan accordingly to make sure you give yourself enough time to fall asleep so that it’s not cutting into your sleep time.
Tip #2: Limit the blue screen
Now, this might be hard, as most of us have become addicted to our phones and tablets. There has been a lot of research coming out about the effects of blue light on our ability to sleep. So it’s a good idea to give yourself a min of one hour of no screen time, but two is best! This will allow your brain the much-needed time to decompress and adjust to the fact that it’s dark out.
Tip #3: Go to bed before 10 pm
Gasp! I know. I’ve got bad news for you night-owls! Some research shows our body needs to be at rest between 10-2 am because it’s when our body makes most of its recovery from the day.
If you miss these hours, studies have shown even after a total of eight hours at night; you might feel sluggish because you didn’t get that 10-2 am hour window.
Tip #4: Get some Sun
Yep a weird one for sure, but getting sunlight on your face and skin helps your body wake up and releases hormones that combat the melatonin in your system. The best time to get this sunlight on your skin is 6:30-8:30 in the morning. This will also help you redevelop your circadian rhythm.
Tip #5: Get enough exercise
It’s not just enough to get exercise, but it’s when you should exercise. Studies have observed that people who exercise in the morning have an easier time getting to sleep and stay asleep longer at night. So it’s best to develop a habit of getting in 30min or cardio in the morning within a few hours of waking up.
Tip #6: Limit the caffeine
Are you aware that caffeine has a half-life? That means that only half the amount of caffeine leaves your system within the first eight hours. Depending on how much caffeine you intake, it can take up to 10-12 hours for caffeine to completely leave your system.
If you are used to having a cup in the afternoon, it might be a good idea to try an herbal tea. Having caffeine in your system when you try to lay down can make you more jittery and can have you tossing and turning most of the night, in effect causing a bigger cup of coffee in the morning!
Tip# 7: Create a Routine
This may seem a little weird, but our bodies like routines and habits. If you set up a nice nighttime routine, you can adequately prepare yourself for bed and wind down your body and mind in preparation for sleep.
You will have an easier time turning off your screens as you will have a plan set in place for what you can do with your time. Finding something to do in place of T.V., video games, and whatnot will be a little bit easier if you routine it.
Some things you can do instead of watching T.V.:
- Read a book
- Take a bath
- Talk with your partner/friend
- Nighttime stretching (not exercise)
And anything else you can think of that’s not tech-based, of course.
Having a morning routine will also help you balance out your morning to fit exercise and sun into your daily habit. A great book to read for morning routines is The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
Getting enough sleep is the best thing you can do for yourself for self-care. It will help you set the foundation for the rest of the day, help you make healthier decisions, detoxify and heal the body, and so much more.
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Natalie is a freelance content and creative writer whose passionate about self-awareness and others coming into their own sense of self, whatever that may be.