You’ve tossed and turned all night, and then struggled through the entire workday with heavy eyelids weighing you down. Lack of sleep can take a huge toll on your physical health as your body struggles to find the stores of energy you need to keep on going.
But that’s not all. In addition to negatively impacting you physically, a lack of sleep actually makes it impossible to achieve balance in even one of the other four pillars of self-care: spiritual, emotional, social, and professional. From mood changes to inattention to lack of productivity, your sleep schedule may be impacting every area of your life.
That’s why a good night’s rest is one of the most important factors in a good self-care routine. If you aren’t getting the quantity or quality of rest you need, you owe it to yourself to make a change. Here are a few ways to drift off early and stay asleep until the new day calls you to action.
A Sleepy Environment
You’ll never doze off with too much noise or light invading your bedroom after your head hits the pillow, but white noise machines and blackout blinds will put a stop to that. The former is a device that drowns out all other jarring sounds by emitting a hum at an amplitude constant throughout the audible spectrum, while the latter keeps the moon’s rays and passing headlights from sneaking through the window.
A Ban on Screens
Your laptop, tablet and mobile phone keep the Sandman from coming until the early hours of the morning. That’s because they all emit blue light, which hinders the release of the sleep hormone melatonin so your mind stays active and alert. And it’s not just a question of hours but quality as blue light delays the onset of REM sleep, which is crucial to feeling awake and alert in the morning, say the experts at the National Sleep Foundation. Try eliminating screens from your bedroom or installing an app that shuts the devices off at bedtime.
A Healthy Snack
Don’t go too heavy right before bed. Otherwise you’ll have trouble dozing off due to indigestion. There are plenty of lighter snacks that’ll help you fall asleep faster while you stick to your diet. Healthy fats are on the menu, along with some fruits and many types of nuts and seed. WellWithinBeauty.com offers a rundown of some of the best plant-based foods to promote sleep.
An Evening Shower
Showering in the morning may freshen you up, but saving it for later sends you off to dreamland like a charm. It all comes down to body temperature and timing. Between an hour and an hour and a half before you lie down is just about right, as that gives your body enough time to cool off after the hot shower, which kick-starts the process of falling asleep. Also, you’ll be squeaky clean when you hit the sheets.
After a long week of work, work, work, your impulse is to sleep in on the weekend to catch up on those Zzz’s you missed. As pleasant as it is, there’s a harmful side effect: It throws off the balance between your sleep drive and your circadian rhythms. The former refers to your natural desire to get some rest after you’ve burned your stores of energy, and the latter is the biological clock that tells you when it’s time to go to bed. If the two aren’t in sync, dozing becomes difficult, leading to grogginess during the day as well as insomnia and depression in the long-term. The best way to avoid this is to keep a regular wake-up hour on Saturday and Sunday.
Caution With the Pills
They’re an easy fix to insomnia and often prescribed by doctors for that reason. However, there are hidden dangers involved, especially when it comes to Ambien, which is highly addictive and often leads to abuse. Furthermore, this drug has been known to cause a number of unwanted side effects including agitation, bizarre behavior, aggression, dizziness, and slurred speech.
An end to tossing and turning at night may not come immediately, but it will come. Stick with a healthy routine and don’t give in to bad habits for your own good. After all, it’s your health at stake.
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