Oh, the dreaded sleep word. This is a hot topic around me. Mainly, because I sleep very little. It is the hardest thing for me! I can take 50 sleeping pills (exaggeration, don't call my mom) and still not sleep. I've tried it all with no luck. I will eventually sleep though. I may stay up for a few days and then sleep 12 hours one night. My body is weird. Or messed up. One of those.
Enough about me. Let's discuss better sleep. And just act like I am a great example. Sleep is vital! Countless studies have been done on the effects of your health and your sleep patterns. Stress being a huge component. I can site study after study, but we all know what we need- more sleep. 7-9 hours being optimal if you work out. 6-8 if you don't. I can also give you all the statistics and ideas for better sleep, but again, you have to find what works for you. Here's my favorite graphic from Precision Nutrition on the signs that your sleep habits aren't working for you.
You get the idea, don't just sleep more, sleep better. You truly have to find what works for you. Trust Me. Decreasing stress is a great start. Here's some ideas to begin with.
1. Exercise. Believe it or not, exercising has been linked to a better quality of sleep. It allows our body to rest better and recover adequately. Give yourself ample time before heading to bed though. Especially if you are doing a hardcore, adrenaline pumping workout. Sleep allows your body to deal with the stress of losing weight and gaining muscle. Think of it as your reset button. Allowing the muscles and body to refuel and repair.
2. Unwind. This is a big one. Find something that allows you to unwind prior to lying down. I am notorious for sitting down about 9 pm and starting my "other" job. I have to just put my computer away at least an hour before wanting to fall asleep. I also don't watch TV in my room. Maybe reading is your favorite thing before bed. Or a warm bath. Or meditation. Meditation is wonderful for falling asleep quickly. Just find something that isn't bothering you or making you think. Relax and meditate 10-15 minutes prior to heading to bed and you should fall asleep much quicker.
3. Practice. Finding a good routine is soooooo important. Going to bed and waking at the same time each day is important for your sleep patterns. Just like we begin training our kids for an earlier bed time a few weeks before school starts each year, we have to do the same for ourselves. So, practice going to bed 10 minutes earlier every few nights until you reach your desired bedtime. And stick to it!
4. Watch your health. Pay attention to your health and sleep patterns. Sometimes, changing patterns can mean that something else is going on. If you feel something is abnormally off, discuss it with your doctor. Sometimes we have gone too hard and just need some extra sleep, but sometimes we are fighting getting sick as well. Pay attention and seek help if needed.
5. Find help. Before you even ask, yes I have seen a doctor about my sleeping. If you have tried everything and still can't manage to sleep well, please look for help. Lack of sleep over time can really be detrimental to your health. Ask for help!
Thanks for reading my 5 Ways To.. series. If you missed the others, they are located on the blog. Go take a nap!