Five Ways to Make Sleep A Priority This Year
It is that time of year when most of us will start to hang up the Holiday decorations and prepare for the New Year ahead.
A New Year means a fresh start and for many, goals will be set, and resolutions will be made.
It is probably no surprise to you that Health resolutions usually top the list in the U.S. which is why your gym might feel a little more crowded in the month of January.
If you’ve decided this is the year that you’re going to make your health a priority and stick to a plan to help you reach your goals, then good for you!
But as you’re making that plan, remember that health doesn’t stop with diet and exercise. Sleep contributes a great deal to your overall health and is just as important as what you put in your body.
Unfortunately, it often takes a back-seat to the other priorities in our lives, so we want to give you simple steps to start following now that will help your entire household sleep better.
Five ways to make sleep a priority this year
1) Schedule in time to sleep. It might seem silly to actually schedule time in your calendar to sleep, but it is proven that when we put things in our calendar, we are more likely to stick to them. I literally block out 830pm-630am in my phone as “sleeping” time and when the reminder pops up on my phone, I am given that nudge to put everything else down and head to bed.
2) Develop a routine. Most of us have helped our children develop a bedtime routine, but what about our routine? It takes the body time to wind down and prepare for rest and creating a routine to transition to sleep will actually help you fall asleep faster. This could include relaxing activities such as taking a bath, light reading, stretches and relaxing yoga poses, or listening to a meditation.
3) Eliminate exposure to blue lights and electronics before bed. You’ve likely heard that blue lights from screens are a “no, no” before bed, but do you know why exactly? When you sit in the dark and watch TV or hop on your phone while you’re laying in bed, the light rays that comes from the screen will quickly suppress your melatonin levels, sending signals to your brain that it isn’t time to sleep yet. Not only does it overstimulate you, making it harder to fall sleep, but it also creates a cycle that can prevent your body from falling asleep during your optimal sleepy window.
4) Set a bedtime and stick to it. As mentioned above, we all have an optimal time for our bodies to rest, which is often referred to as our “sleepy window”. This is why we might see our children enter meltdown mode if they miss their bedtime. Our bodies know when we need to sleep and when we ignore those signals it causes our cortisol levels to rise and our sleep cycles to become mixed up, leading to a restless night of sleep or trouble falling asleep. It is important that you pay attention to your body by going to sleep within a 30-minute window of feeling tired, even if you have a million things to get done!
5) Sleep in a healthy environment. While there are some people who seem to be able to fall asleep anywhere, (i.e. my husband) the majority of us need an environment conducive to sleep to get a good night of rest. Our environment plays a huge role in how well we sleep, and this can include anything from how dark it is in the room, to the type of sheets you are using. Use the checklist below to see where you might be able to improve your current environment for better sleep.
Sleep in a completely dark room
Use white noise such as a fan or air purifier (or even a white noise machine!)
Use 100% organic cotton sheets. Here is a list of some of the ones we recommend
Make sure your room is free of smoke or other strong odors
Sleep in a non-cluttered environment, free of distraction
Make sure you’re using a supportive mattress and bedding