It’s the start of the year and we are all still excited about those new year’s resolutions. As we dream of all the things that we hope to accomplish by the end of the year, have we stopped to consider what it will take for us to get there. Have we really thought about all of the adjustments and some comforts that we may have to give up in order to reach those goals? When it comes to larger goals like losing weight, learning a new skill or even tackling a big project then yes, hopefully you thought it all the way through. Unfortunately when it comes to the more personal goals, you know the one directly related to our own needs, that’s when things get a little tricky.
One of my big goals for 2022, is to get more rest and I know that it is something many of you in our community are committed to as well. Rest is one of those goals that can easily be sidetracked by the demands of life. Work gets more demanding, kids need you, family commitments or any number of things often leads to less time for you to decompress and rest. That’s why I have committed this year to not only creating more space in my own life for rest, but also helping you do the same. So if you are ready for more time dedicated to refilling your own cup then stay tuned. Our Lab Notes blog will be the place that I share my own experiences, the place where I take you along my journey for more rest.
In my quest for more rest the first thing I had to do was change my night time habits. The things I was doing to help me “wind down at night” were actually counterproductive. In my head I was relaxing but to my brain, I was providing more stimulation, making it harder for me to doze off. Below are my four biggest mistakes and easy swaps to help you catch more zzz’s.
As much as it pains me to say this, wine or alcohol of any sort is not the best option before bed. If you want to enjoy a glass or two, have it with dinner. Some medical professionals recommend three hours before bed which is great if you can manage to have dinner at six. If not then aim for two hours and hope for the best.
As for what to sip before bed, herbal tea is the best choice. It is naturally caffeine free and some varieties may help you fall asleep faster. My go to is a blend of Chamomile and Tulsi (holy basil). It is delicious and helps me doze off faster.
Now this one has been hard for me as the only time I really have to enjoy my favorite shows is after the kids are asleep and the house is clean. That’s also the time I am trying to fall asleep which means I am losing hours in favor of “one more episode”. We have talked about this trade off at length in our post about Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, but the bottom line is turn the television off.
The swap is a good book. I am a huge fan of audio books and feel that audio or old fashion print in hand will work. What you don’t want is a digital book on an e-reader or tablet. I’ll get to why in a moment so you’ll have to stick with me for a moment. Now full disclosure, having to actually read most books will put me to sleep so for the purposes of rest I’m going with a paper book. If I really want to absorb the information it’s audio for me.
There are lots of reasons that late night social media scrolling is bad for our sleep habits but let’s just stick to the basics here. Our electronic devices emit blue light that has been proven to affect our bodies production of melatonin (the sleep hormone). This throws off our natural sleep wake cycle affecting not just our quantity of sleep but also the quality. Some have suggested wearing blue light blocking glasses to help with this and if you just can’t seem to give up the late night scroll then it’s a great option. However, journaling is a much better option.
Journaling over scrolling is probably my favorite swap and one that has been super helpful for me. First it helps to clear the clutter in our minds from the day. Journaling is a safe outlet for your thoughts and feelings, especially the ones you don’t feel comfortable sharing with another person. Also for me personally it helps to organize the never ending to do list that keeps me up at night. Having a central location that I can refer back to gives me ease, knowing I won’t forget something while I sleep.
For those of you who are new to journaling or are just in need of a little inspiration, scroll down to grab my list of Five Journal Prompts To Declutter Your Brain Before Bed. Each prompt is designed to help you clear the common thoughts that keep us up at night so that you can rest easy.
If you are guilty of any one (or all) of these sleep disruptors, I hope you find these swaps helpful. If you know that this is the year where you put yourself at the top of the priority list then, I can’t wait to take this journey together.
Keisha – Chief Wellness Officer
Take the Self-Care Cycle quiz and grab the guide to kick-start your self-care journey today!