5 Steps to Better Sleep
After Stress Management, my most popular coaching support has been on the topic of Sleep. In case you're not getting your best possible sleep, I want to share some recommendations to help you get there. In my Sleep Support program, I coach on these habits and create a customized bedtime routine for my clients. Here's to a good night's sleep!
1. Set a time to wind down.
Consistency, going to bed and waking up, is one of the best ways to support getting good sleep. Consider starting your bedtime routine at the same time every day. Remember that a routine is the typical experience, but it may not necessarily happen every day. A routine will help you aim for great sleep, but even it you miss a night or two you'll be equipped to pick up where you left off. Your body will begin to expect to wind down at this time after days of consistently completing your routine. If your mind tends to start racing as soon as you rest your head, you'll appreciate the opportunity to teach your mind to expect and embrace rest.
Start by refreshing yourself. Light a candle. Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Enjoy that clean feeling and don't leave room for any self-care regrets.
2. Eliminate interference.
As much as possible, make sure your body is hydrated and nourished in the evening (though not too close to bedtime) to make the most of the opportunity to heal and restore while you sleep. Be cautious about consuming caffeine, sugar, or alcohol close to bedtime. Even if you're not sensitive to it, caffeine can take up to 12 hours to leave your system and you don't need that stimulation when you're trying to sleep. In addition to nutrition, consider your sleep environment. You may already reduce light and noise as you prepare to sleep, but is there more you could do to prevent being startled or stimulated during the night? Consider turning off electronics, setting them to "do not disturb", or moving them across the room.
Reserve caffeine and other stimulants for the morning hours and reserve alcohol for nights before more restful days, not when you need to be up and ready to go the next morning. Diffuse some lavender essential oil in your room to set the tone for relaxation. Use blue light glasses and reduce the use of electronics as much as possible before bed.
3. Practice or play.
Take time to engage your brain in activity that builds a healthy habit or is just for fun. Do a puzzle, read a book, stretch out your tired muscles, listen to a podcast or audiobook, or practice an instrument. Whatever you do, make sure it's pleasant and engaging. This will allow you to release some of the tension from the day and engage your mind with something other than what you did or didn't accomplish, or what needs to happen tomorrow (more on tomorrow below). The focus you apply during this bedtime activity will help to train your mind over time so that it becomes easier to think of things other than worries and task lists.
If you're in the middle of a challenging book, pick one or two others and give yourself a choice of what you want to read at bedtime. Maybe you're not up for non-fiction tonight but rather than not read at all, keep a magazine on a topic you find fun and another, easier book available for times like this.
4. Reflect and reframe.
Don't carry all your worries to dream land. Instead, list the things that are weighing on your mind on a note pad or in a journal. Release them and know that if you really need to address anything on the list, it is visibly available for the appropriate time. Record an audible or written journal to process any lingering emotion about things that happened today. Pray and reflect with gratitude on all the good things about your life and your day which are so easy to forget. Don't let the day slip away without acknowledging the positive things at least as much as the negative things on your mind.
Meditate. Dwell on a specific idea, affirmation, or Bible verse. Sit in a quiet place and focus on your breath, counting each inhalation and exhalation. Observe your physical and emotional state without judgement and without any effort to change anything for three minutes.
5. Set a morning routine.
Now let's talk about tomorrow morning. Wouldn't you like to go to bed knowing exactly what will happen during your first hour of the day? This way you can rest in the knowledge that you will start the day off well so you don't have to worry about it before bed or during sleep. Start with self-care, whatever you need to make it a good day. Solitude, fresh air, exercise. Include something challenging that may be practicing a discipline like memorization or meditation. Conquering a challenge at the start of the day can motivate you to tackle tough tasks for the rest of the day. Need an idea for a conquerable challenge? Make your bed. And remember the importance of consistency. Aim to wake up at the same time every day.
Drink some water or celery juice right away upon waking up. This hydration will help your body get ready for the day and increase your alertness. Complete your morning routine away from your bed to minimize temptation to sleep later than you intended which will throw off your plan for the day.
Sleep well, friends!