One way to practice self-care is by sleeping better at night so I’m sharing 5 ways to do this so you feel more refreshed in the morning and better able to handle the stresses and challenges of the day.
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If I had to list the top five things I miss from life before kids, one of those things would be sleep. Between pregnancy, getting up with the baby in the middle of the night, sick kids, bed wetting, bad dreams, early risers and so on, I rarely get more than 6-7 hours a night. While I obviously wouldn’t trade my kids for anything, I am not one of those people who runs well on little sleep. But it seems like the busier my life gets, the more likely I am to sacrifice my sleep in order to get more done, have a little bit of time to myself or spend some one on one time with my husband. So because I can’t add extra hours to my day (or night), I’ve been trying to figure out how to get better sleep rather than always trying to get more.
Limit the use of electronics before bedtime
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 90% of Americans admit to using electronic devices (television, phone, or tablet) within an hour of going to sleep at night. Instead of relaxing us and calming us down as we prepare to go to sleep, our brains are actually stimulated which causes the following problems:
- delays your body’s internal clock
- suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin
- makes it more difficult to achieve REM (restorative) sleep
- decreases alertness in the morning
I know that I’ve rationalized my use of electronics at night saying, “Oh, I’m just checking Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest. I’m not really engaging in anything mentally stimulating.” But if I’m honest with myself, when I put my phone down and try to sleep, it doesn’t come as easily. By limiting our use of these devices within a reasonable amount of time before going to bed, our bodies have a chance to get better sleep because we’ve prepared for bed in a more calming way.
Set an alarm to start getting ready for bed
I first heard this suggestion on the Happier podcast by Gretchen Rubin. As Gretchen explains it, setting an alarm to start getting ready for bed is a trigger for us to start winding down and begin our bedtime routine. While I haven’t tried this yet, it makes sense: when we know something is coming (our alarm going off), we are more likely to prepare for it and even anticipate it. I can also see this as a great help for anyone who tends to get going on a project and loses track of time.
Having the right sheets
We’ve all tried sleeping when we are either too hot or too cold. We wake up multiple times, toss and turn all night, and then wake up grumpy. I’ve found for my husband and I that having the right sheets for the time of year is a huge help in getting better sleep. Currently, we have the king size bamboo sheets from Aloha Soft in granite on our bed. We’ve been using them for about a month and a half and really like them. These are just a few things I like about them:
- Extra large flat sheet stays tucked in
- Keeps us cool due to the natural moisture-wicking properties of bamboo
Turn on white noise
When I was a junior in college, I got a new roommate who asked if we could have a fan on in our bedroom. I agreed. And for the first few nights, I didn’t sleep well because I wasn’t used to the noise of the fan. But after that, there was no going back and I’ve slept with a fan in my room for the last 12 years. (Thanks Chelsea!) Besides helping with temperature regulation, white noise from a fan also helps mask nighttime sounds that might otherwise prevent you from falling asleep or waking you up in the night. If you can fall asleep easier and don’t wake up unnecessarily, you will get better sleep.
Try doing a “brain dump”
If you are one of those people who lays down at night and starts replaying conversations from the day, making a mental to-do list for the next day or thinking about the latest show you’ve been binge-watching, try doing a “brain dump” before going to bed. Basically you keep a notebook and pen next to your bed and before you lay down to go to sleep, you write down the things you are thinking about. (This post from Brighton The Day does a great job explaining the how’s, when’s and why’s of a brain dump.) The idea is that by writing it down, your brain no longer has to worry about it because you’ve dumped it onto your paper to think about in the morning, which helps you to relax and fall asleep more easily.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful! I know that when I’ve implemented even a couple of these tips for getting a better night’s rest, I feel better in the morning.
What helps you sleep better at night?