Sleep is active healing. When we sleep the body is able to repair our cells from daily stress and toxic damage that result from sitting too long, not stretching our muscles, feeling anxiety over daily problems, and from eating processed foods. Our bodies really do require 7-9 hours of sleep every night for us to feel our best.
In addition, finding at least 20 to 30 minutes of quiet “me” time each day can have a great impact on our stress levels and quality of sleep. I love using the CALM or Headspace app, available on the itunes app store. If you feel like lately you just can’t turn off your brain and get the sleep you need, you can try a few of these tips (like, tonight).
- Do the best you can to head to bed and wake up around the same time each day. Even on weekends. Start a routine, and stick to it.
- Avoid screen time within an hour before bed. You know what I’m talking about. If anything, pry yourself from instagram, Netflix or your work email (ugh) at least 30-60 min before you hit the hay. Giving your eyes a break from something backlit is key. Even reading a book or a magazine is better than your phone or tablet. Fill that time with journaling (my new favorite find is the Practice You journal), reading or…you know…some time with your significant other
- Keep those screen activities mentioned above (or any type of “work”) away from the bedroom. Remove tablets, computers, work desks, etc. and keep your place of sleep a sanctuary set aside for two things.
- Eat your last meal just about 3-4 hours before bed. You don’t need a bedtime snack. Your dinner should hold you over enough so that you are not hungry when you get ready for bed. This is even more important for those aiming to shed extra weight or holiday pounds. If you are always hungry before bed, go to sleep earlier. After dinner, the kitchen closes, and your sleep and digestion will thank you.
- Avoid drinking a lot of water or liquids later in the evening. Most people (unless pregnant or who have a medical condition) shouldn’t have to get up to use the bathroom while sleeping. If you find yourself doing so, cut back on how much you drink at night and drink big glass or room temperature or warm water upon waking to rehydrate and flush your system.
- Skip the booze. Yes, there are benefits to a daily glass of wine. Yes, it’s important to have a social life. Yes, sometimes, a drink can help you unwind at the end of the day. However, drinking any amount of alcohol can impair your quality of sleep, whether you realize it or not. For weight loss, better sleep, improved energy and digestion, stick to 4 or less glasses a week, ideally two.
- Keep your caffeine intake to a minimum, and only in the morning. One serving of caffeine is ideal. It can improve your energy and focus (and workouts) but after 12pm, can still have an impact on how easily you fall asleep.