I have a complicated relationship with sleep. I don’t actually need that much of it — I seem to operate just fine off of 4-5 hours of sleep most nights and feel pretty good! The only problem is, those 4-5 hours have to be incredible restful in order to be effective. I struggle with that, because I am a light sleeper with an overly active brain. Especially at night. I have had to cultivate some self-care guidelines to follow that will help me get more restful sleep, and I’ve found that they’ve already made a big impact on how well I sleep, and how I feel during the day.
1. Stick to a regular sleep schedule
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. I see you rolling your eyes, moms. And listen, I get it! I’m not saying you have to be, like, perfect about it. Just try to go to bed and wake up within the same 1-2 hour window each day and see how you feel.
#2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine
Take a warm bath, read a book, or listen to soothing music before bed to help calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep. I also like to do guided meditations, especially ones that are made for sleep. You can find them for free on YouTube, but if you happen to have the Peloton app, I really love the sleep meditations they offer.
#3. Avoid certain drinks before bed
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake in the hours leading up to bedtime, as they can disrupt sleep. Yes, even alcohol can mess up your sleep. Did you know that although a glass of wine before bed might help you fall asleep faster, it can disrupt your sleep pattern and your restfulness? Better to stick to water in the final hours before bed.
#4. Create a sleep-conducive environment
Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Use comfortable bedding and pillows to help you sleep soundly. I know that sounds obvious, but I bet if you look around your bedroom right now you might find that it’s not exactly a soothing environment in there (I just shoved a pile of clean clothes onto the floor to make myself a spot on the bed to write from). Taking just a few minutes to create a serene environment before going to bed can be extremely helpful, even if it means hiding the pile if clean clothes in the closet for now.
#5. Exercise regularly:
Finding time to exercise can be hard. Finding the physical and mental energy to do it can be even harder. Although I have many days where I don’t want to exercise, I definitely notice that my sleep is better when I’ve done a bit of exercise before bed. Things like yoga or taking a walk are low impact on your body but can still have a major impact on your sleep.
#6. Limit screen time before bed:
Avoid using electronic devices, such as smartphones or laptops, for at least an hour before bed. I know you know this, but I’m going to remind you anyway. Blue lights emitted from our devices can suppress melatonin, which is a hormone that is important in helping us fall asleep and stay asleep. And if you get yourself stuck in a social media scroll-hole, you can find yourself staying up way later than you wish because you just can’t climb out of the hole. I’ve found that choosing a book before bed is much better for my sleep than a screen.
Give these a try and see if they have an impact on your sleep and energy levels. And as always, if you have suggestions I missed, leave them in the comments!