Get Your Best Night’s Sleep Ever: How to Develop + Stick to a Nightly Routine
It can be our best friend, or our worst nightmare (literally).
It’s something we ALL need, but unfortunately we often have trouble getting the recommended 7-9 hours a night. In fact, due to the effects of our modern world (think — constantly checking phones/email or not knowing how to slow down from our busy days) there are more than 70 million adults with insomnia. #Butfirstcoffee is a popular mantra for good reason.
But what a lot of people don’t understand is just how bad not getting sleep actually is for us and how much it affects everything in our lives — including hormonal imbalance, our ability to make good decisions, elevated stress levels and weight gain!
For example, woke up ravenous after a night of minimal sleep? This is because when you don’t get enough sleep your metabolism slows and your body makes more of the appetite-increasing hormone called grehlin while simultaneously making less of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin. As a side-effect, we’re twice as likely to crave and eat especially high-glycemic foods that thrust our energy upwards (think carbs and sugar) but that also cause weight gain. Additionally, too little slumber reduces our fat cells’ ability to respond properly to the hormone insulin, so we’re even more likely to store whatever we eat as fat instead of using it for energy.
Studies also show the less people sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight or obese and at an increased risk for (deep breaths) heart disease, diabetes, depression, pain, impaired immune function, accidents and even death. On top of that, because of low levels of sleep we’re often then too exhausted to exercise or make other helpful, healthy lifestyle choices.
The very latest science and studies make it clear that sleep is a non-negotiable part of our health, our productivity and our happiness….but how do we actually go about getting more of it?
Enter in these three easy steps for creating and sticking to a nightly routine that will help transform the way you sleep, ultimately aiding in less stress, sustained weight-loss, more energy and making better choices all around. #winning
Your New Nighttime Routine in 3 Easy Steps:
1.Create Your Ritual —
As busy adults, our bodies are usually exhausted by nighttime but our brains haven’t had a chance to slow down. Thus it’s important we reconnect with a sleep ritual, something instilled in us back when we were young. If you can reflect back to that time (or even your own children’s bedtime routine) we weren’t just put into bed and told to go the eff to sleep (because THAT would’ve worked ;)). Instead we were given baths, told stories, fed from a bottle, tucked in…. a transition time to help us ease into a peaceful nightly slumber.
Thus it’s super important to create your own nightly ritual, something you can easily do every night that will help move your body away from its work phase and into its rest phase. I set two alarms every night, the first an hour before my desired bedtime. I make myself get off the computer and phone (more on that later), drink a calming lavender tonic or chamomile tea and write in my 5-minute Journal (practicing gratitude tends to alleviate worries/anxieties that can keep us awake). I love to read and will usually pass out mid-sentence (no joke).
Your Action Step: Figure out a bedtime you can stick to almost every day and set an alarm one hour before to give yourself plenty of time to ease into sleep. Try reading, taking an epsom salt bath, drinking tea (caffeine-free), snuggling with a loved one or writing a gratitude list. It’s all about what works best for you!
BONUS Tip: If you’re able to get to sleep before 11 pm it enhances your body’s ability to release human growth hormone (aka “the fitness hormone”), which benefits you by providing anti-aging & weight loss effects, boosting your immune system & much more.
2. Put Down Your Phone….Seriously —
One of the primary reasons many people struggle to get enough sleep is due to our attachment to devices late at night (computers, phones, even tv). These screens give our eyes a mega-dose of blue spectrum light at the time of day our eyes are only supposed to see darkness. The light sends a message to our brains that it’s daytime, and our bodies secrete hormones to help us feel awake in response to seeing light, leading to not feeling tired at bedtime, then dragging our feet the next day due to insufficient sleep.
Your Action Step: Keep electronics out of the bedroom if possible. Try an old fashioned alarm clock if you can – but if you simply can’t give up your phone alarm charge it across the room from you. This way you’re less likely to wake up and check email in the middle of the night and more likely to get out of bed when it goes off in the morning.
BONUS Tip: Follow step #1 and set your alarm an hour before bed. Then turn off all devices and stay off of them!
3.Have a Sleep Kit Handy —
This fits nicely into #1, but having a sleep kit you can use every night (whether traveling or at home) can drastically improve your quality of sleep. In my “sleep-kit” you’ll find the following:
- Magnesium — Most of us are deficient in this important supplement that controls hundreds of chemical reactions in the body, including those that aid in sleep and muscle relaxation. Try these supplements or Natural calm unsweetened.
- Eye Mask — Like I mentioned in #2, it’s important to have total darkness in your room. You might look a bit like a diva but the tradeoff is totally worth it.
- Ear Plugs — Snoring husband? Loud neighbors? Live in a busy area? These babies are my go-to for drowning out noise (and if you’re wondering yes I look like a total nerd when I sleep at night).
- Lavender Essential Oil — When you smell something, the scent molecules are actually linking directly to the brain tissue in your nose. So if you sniff something calming, like lavender, your brain may get a halt order on production of the chemicals that cause negative emotions. I like to put a dab under my nose and on my pillow at night.
- A good book — I literally read every night before I go to bed. It’s a great way for me to unwind and I just love reading in general. Even if it’s not your thing try it and see… you might be surprised how much more quickly you’re able to fall asleep.
Your Action Step: Create your own sleep kit. You can use my ideas for inspiration or get creative (scented candles, silky pjs..etc.) Just make it something useful and that you’ll enjoy doing.