There’s no time for tossing and turning at night. Sleep is one of the key components for your success, your sanity, and your health. More often than not, we find ourselves taking on more responsibility, more stress, and more to-do list items at the end of a long day. It’s no wonder at least 1 in 4 Canadians are dissatisfied with their sleep or sleep quality. That’s 8 hours of your day!
A good night’s sleep starts with a solid routine. These are small and simple changes in your lifestyle that make a big impact on your sleep and your quality of sleep. Environmental cues that tell your brain and body to downshift allows your parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system to take over to get you to sleep and recharge your body for the day ahead.
1. Sleep Hygiene
Simplify your sleeping space (your bedroom) by clearing any items that detract from your goal of great sleep. Charge mobile phones outside. Keep work-related books, electronics, and papers in the office. TVs and other Netflix-ready screens should be in living spaces outside the bedroom. Your bed is your sanctuary for sleep – not another place to work, stress, binge-watch, or binge-scroll.
Once it’s dark outside, start limiting screen-time on electronic devices. Turn on blue-light filters for electronics where available. Light discipline after sunset can encourage production of melatonin, our body’s nighttime hormone. Turn off or dim any unnecessary lights, especially in the hours approaching bedtime.
2. Body Care
Connect and care for your body at the end of a long day. Your body initiates its restorative processes at nighttime – you can help it by giving a few moments of your day to your body care. Are there any supplements you should be taking? Any herbal teas that you would enjoy? What did your ND say again? How about a bit of fruit or a sip of water? Are there any light stretches that you were prescribed or that you want to do? There are many ways to care for your body especially if you’ve been too busy during the day.
Bathing or showering a couple of hours before bedtime can also help optimize your body’s temperature for sleep. Castor oil packs or massages and other skincare routines are a great way to connect with your body physically to prepare it for a great night’s sleep.
3. Mind Care
Bedtime is often a time for reflection about what happened during the day. Give time to reflect and process on the day’s events. This is an opportunity to practice your mental wellness and resilience daily. Pillow talk with yourself or an open-eared partner, journaling, gratitude journaling, or 5-minute journaling are great ways to bring out your reflections.
Once your thoughts – the stresses and the successes – are all out, it’s time to let it go before you go to sleep. Meditative practices like breathing meditations and guided meditations are great ways to connect back to what matters the most – the present moment. Since mind care is the time where most of us tend to do mindless activities like scrolling through social media, binge-watching, or ruminating negative thoughts, it is so important to bring mindfulness back into our daily routines, especially at bedtime.
These 3 steps are simple enough for anyone to do, and yet these 3 steps can look vastly different from person to person. What’s most important is consistency, intention, and of course – the results! A good night’s sleep is achievable, and you don’t have to do it alone.
Insomnia affects everyone at some point in their lives. Whether it’s in times of stress, health changes, hormonal imbalances, drugs, trauma, or someone else indirectly affecting you, insomnia can be detrimental to your future health. Disordered sleep or poor-quality sleep can increase the chances of the development of a chronic disease in the future. Get tested and fully assessed by a licensed healthcare professional, your family doctor or your naturopathic doctor to build the most appropriate treatment plan that addresses your individuality.
The more we practice integrating healthful routines and tasks into our lifestyle, the less we have to worry about everything else. When you sleep well, eat well, move well, and breathe well – all that’s left to do is to enjoy the robust and healthy life you have built!