A healthy and balanced lifestyle doesn’t only comprise of daily workouts and diet plans, but a lot more. And sleep is more important than we think! A healthy sleep routine paves the way for becoming the woman and mother we want to be, each and every single day (and night!).
Having a great sleep is not only necessary for me to be able to successfully handle my busy days, but it’s an important time for your body to rest and recuperate. Our bodies can’t keep going without stopping and recovering – we need to sleep, allow our body to recover, and start each day feeling refreshed! And there would be no way I’d be able to juggle everything on my to-do list without giving myself a break each night!
We always hear about how important having a morning routine is, but what about having a healthy sleep routine?
Never an Early Bird Type
Do you wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed each morning? Or do you hit the snooze button on your phone three times, then finally succumb to flipping through IG or FB in the morning before dragging your ass out of bed and rushing through your mornings to make sure everyone gets to school and work on time?
I’ve never been called an early bird – I was the big-time snoozer! Never did I think that I could be a morning person! Instead of getting up each day at 6 am (like I wanted to!) I would typically start my day somewhere between 6:45 – 7:00 am, feeling exhausted, rushed, and struggling to get everyone out the door on time.
I thought that my lack of morning routine was the problem.
I read a book called ‘The Miracle Morning for Parents & Families’ by Hal Elrod, Lindsay McCarthy and Mike McCarthy, which inspired me to create a morning routine and start my day off right. The idea of a “morning routine” is to establish a healthy start to your day, and to prioritize things to do and motivate you to complete them. But each day when that alarm rang at 6:00 am, I reached over and hit the snooze button. Then I moved my phone across the room to encourage myself to wake up and get going. And still, the rebel in me went over to the phone, turned off the alarm, and went back to bed.
It might seem silly, but I felt like a failure. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t excited to wake up each day (was I depressed? did I have a health issue? is it something I ate?) even though I created a morning routine full of things to do each day – gratitude, yoga, lemon water, tea, reading a few pages of a book – and yet I just wanted to get back to sleep until I absolutely HAD to wake up.
That’s when it finally clicked in that perhaps it wasn’t my lack of intention each morning that was keeping me bedridden, it was likely my sleeping habits. I didn’t have a regular bedtime or sleep routine – some nights I went to bed before 10:00 pm, other nights I was still awake at midnight, and some nights I would stay awake all. night. long. for no good reason, despite my tiredness.
It took some time to realise that getting a better night’s sleep was the key in helping me reach my goals for a morning routine. My sleep was paving the way for a better tomorrow (cheese alert!), and so for the past 6 months I tried every trick in the book until I finally figured out what works for me!
Here are some tips and tricks that may help you get a better night’s sleep so that you can start each day with energy and the ability to function all day long – no matter what life throws at you!
TIPS FOR A HEALTHY SLEEP ROUTINE
CREATING A NIGHTTIME ROUTINE
I keep reading about morning routines and how important they are for setting yourself up for the day – but if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, chances are your morning routine will suffer. Creating a nighttime routine is so imperative to getting a good night’s sleep and waking up feeling refreshed and ready to charge! Part of your nighttime routine should focus on shutting down that brain of yours – here’s some ways how:
- Turn off your laptop and TV at least 30-60 mins before bed
- Stay off your cellphone – no matter how tempting it is to check email or Facebook
- Brain dump – write out everything you can think of so it’s out of your head and you’re ready to accomplish tomorrow
- Do something relaxing to physically tell your body that it’s time to unwind – like a bath or applying lotion
- Diffuse essential oils (I use Aroma Siez, Peace and Calming, and Rutavala from Young Living)
- Drink bedtime tea (I am loving the Pukka Night Time Tea)
- Bedtime Yoga or simple stretching
- Then jump right into bed feeling relaxed…!
Some things might work better for your nighttime routine than others – I’m still not that great at meditation (yes, even with the apps!) but doing a brain dump of tasks I have to do tomorrow and stretching it out helps me relax and get me ready for bed.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Like anything in life, consistency is key here, and getting to bed at the same time each night helps your body get used to the cycle and will create a natural rhythm that your body is keen to follow. Stick to your bed time and honour it – even if it means that you have to read the rest of that book or complete work tasks tomorrow! Play around with it – I know that getting to bed around 9:30pm means I’ll be asleep before 10:00pm and that’s the sweet spot for me!
CUT OUT CAFFEINE
You might know that I used to refer to myself as a coffee snob – would it surprise you that I quit drinking coffee almost a year ago? Yes, me. The girl who loved her French Press dark brews, her espresso shots – always black, no sugar. Gone. No more coffee for this girl and I feel great. And while quitting coffee has definitely helped my body regain its’ natural rhythm, the main reason I quit coffee because of its’ effect on hormones.
Now, hold up – I am not telling you to quit coffee – nope, YOU do YOU! If you love your coffee and want to continue drinking it, by all means please do! But keep in mind of how much coffee you’re drinking and what time you stop drinking it. I still drink tea or matcha lattes, which do have caffeine in them, however I usually drink a caffeinated beverage around 9:00 am, or no later than noon, and only one per day. I no longer feel the urge to have that 3:00 pm coffee like I used to, but I believe that was also because I was suffering from adrenal fatigue…
RULE OUT ADRENAL FATIGUE (OR HELP SUPPORT THOSE ADRENAL GLANDS!)
Even after I quit coffee, I was having issues with sleep – it turns out that for me, those issues were caused by stress at work and at home. My body’s stress levels were always on hyperdrive, which caused adrenal fatigue – and this could be dangerous to your well-being for many reasons. For myself, not only did it cause a lack of sleep, but it made losing weight extremely difficult, and I was always, ALWAYS dead tired. I became anti-social, moody, I never wanted to have sex (or even if I did my body wouldn’t cooperate) and this all increased my anxiety and made me a pretty crappy person to be around.
My health coach introduced me to Adrenal Assist and educated me on adrenals in general. All the signs pointed to adrenal fatigue. The Adrenal Assist from Vitanica is full of vitamins, minerals, and superfoods designed to promote healthy adrenal gland function and the ability to handle stress in a more balanced manner. A few days after I started taking it, I felt relief. I easily fell asleep, had long deep sleeps, and woke up bright and early feeling recharged and ready to take on the day! HOORAH!
Please keep in mind this may not work for you, and you might need to experiment with what does. If you think you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue, you might want to see your doctor.
CREATE A CALM ENVIRONMENT
This might sound like a no-brainer, but creating a calm environment built for relaxing is super important for getting a good night’s sleep. There should be no TV, no cell phones or laptops. Instead, light candles, add art that is soothing, create the bed of your dreams – make sure it’s quiet (or use a sound machine) and dark (with black-out blinds or a sleeping mask).
Creating the ideal environment for sleep will provide no other distractions to getting to bed. I’m pretty lucky that where we live is pretty quiet and dark, but sometimes the moon is shining something fierce and I can’t stress enough how much my sleeping mask has helped me those nights! We also spent a bit of money on perfecting our bed – from choosing the right pillows, having a feather-filled pillow top, and alternating duvets depending on season. It might sound a bit over the top, but once you start sleeping on cloud nine, you’ll thank yourself for prioritizing your sleep!
KEEP ENERGY & STRESS LEVELS LOW BEFORE BED
This is also an obvious one, but I’m surprised how many people don’t realise that what they do in the 1-2 hours before bed has a huge effect on sleep! Are you exercising at night? STOP. When you get your heart rate up so close before bedtime, your adrenals are pumping and sending signals to your brain to keep going! Instead of high-energy workouts, try a calming yoga routine and move your high-impact workouts to first thing in the morning.
Also, be careful of what you watch before bed! My favourite thing to do before bed is to watch tv while snuggling with the hubby. But when you watch tv it stimulates your brain – and if you watch something that’s aggressive, frightening, depressing or intense, it may cause you to have trouble falling asleep. Instead of that heavy documentary before bed, watch something light and fun.
The biggest issues that come up for me before bed are: 1) the kids having trouble falling asleep; 2) work items popping up before bed. These are both things I can’t control and that honestly cause me a lot of issues on some nights (and for some reason, they always occur on the SAME night – double trouble!). Instead of getting angst-y about it, I usually breathe deeply (embrace the zen) and attempt to help the kids fall asleep first before reacting to some work “emergency”, that I’ve learnt can typically be solved early in the morning. Feel free to let your employees or work partners know that you typically don’t check your work phone after a certain time, and that you will respond to their request in the morning – they’ll eventually get it.
WATCH YOUR ALCOHOL & SUGAR INTAKE
So, this may seem obvious (or maybe not…) but the amount of food you put in your body closer to bedtime impacts your sleep habits. Too much sugar, too much food, too much alcohol – it all makes your body work harder to get to sleep. Try having a “cut-off” time for eating – whether it’s 7:00 pm or whatever works for you – do not eat after that time. This allows your body to digest food easily before it’s time for bed. The same for alcohol – if you enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or after dinner, that’s great, but make sure you’re not overdoing or drinking right before you go to bed. A glass of wine just before trying to get to sleep does not go hand in hand – although some people say it helps them get to sleep, it’s the quality of sleep that’s lacking.
Once you get your sleep routine under control, creating a morning routine that’s buzzing and full of positive energy will be so much easier! Getting my sleep routine down has helped me manage my life SO much better – I’m less grumpy and frustrated, my anxiety doesn’t seem to spark up as much, my kids and husband are happy that I’M happy, and I just have so much more energy to get things DONE!
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