One of my favorite things in the whole wide world is SLEEP, and I realized this after years of NOT getting adequate sleep. The absence of precious slumbers made me really appreciate how beneficial rest is to both the mind and body. In addition, as someone who suffers from Crohn’s disease (autoimmune disease) I need proper sleep to keep my symptoms at bay. As we all know, lack of sleep leads to stress and and a whole plethora of negative manifestations.
I’m a terrible sleeper to begin with, but throw in three small children and the chances that one or more will get up each and every night is incredibly likely. One of my goals for 2021 is self care, and included in that is the ever coveted sleep.
Mental health and sleep are deeply intertwined. During these colder months – SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is at an all time high; COVID fatigue has set in; anxiety and depression are ever present; and the exhaustion is real. To help improve your psychological health during these unprecedented times, I’ve come up with a short list to help combat sleep woes.
Here are 10 tips I’ve recently adapted:
1. Gravity Blanket: This weighted blanket is a Godsend. My husband gifted this to me for Christmas, and quite frankly, it’s absolutely lovely. A weighted blanket can help improve sleep quality. The blanket’s deep touch pressure stimulates serotonin, the relaxation hormone, which helps you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and feel rested in the morning. Check out the Gravity Blanket HERE.
2. Cut the caffeine by noon: Believe me, I LOVE my morning java. BUT if I carry on throughout the day, I’m in trouble. Caffeine is a stimulant and can affect your ability to fall asleep as well as decrease the amount of deep sleep you log. The other day, I had an espresso around 3pm, and I didn’t sleep at all!
3. Skip the alcohol: I don’t really drink anymore. This is mostly due to breastfeeding, being pregnant over recent years, and just the mere fact that it just doesn’t really fit into my life anymore. Alcohol disturbs REM sleep which is critical for optimal functioning.
4. Exercise: This is simple. Get moving! Nothing gets my heart rate up, and sweat flowing like running. What do you do to get your blood pumping?
5. Bedtime tea: I find this to be a nice and soothing ritual after the kiddos go to bed. I put my favorite red teapot on the stove and cozy up in a blanket. My absolute favorite is, Yogi’s Bedtime Tea. Mix in a little bit of almond milk and honey and you have a delightful night time treat!
6. Meditate: Meditation is so advantageous. The mental health benefits include better focus and concentration, improved self-awareness and self-esteem, lower levels of stress and anxiety, and encouraging kindness. There are so many apps out there. In our household, we like Ten Percent Happier. Try it!
7. Take a bath: Soaking in the tub, can help you unwind and fall asleep faster because it helps lower your core temperature, which is a circadian sleep signal.
8. Massage: Pre-covid, I was a big fan of getting massages. It’s such a nice way to relax and got your muscles stretched out, so try some deep tissue “kneaded” relief with your partner. Spice things up a bit!
9. Turn off devices: Research has showed that bright lights and sounds are stimulating to the brain. Use your time before bed to quiet down, and decompress from the day.
10. Read: I find reading puts my mind at ease. Here are a few books on my nightstand right now: The Vanishing Half, and The Wisdom of Sundays. If you need some ideas, Oprah’s Book Club is a start. I’ve read several on her list and highly recommend.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like a whole new person when I get a good night’s sleep. Right now that means at least 5 hours, and I’ll take it! Who out there has troubles sleeping? What works for you? “Sleep is the best meditation.” – Dalai Lama
These 3 blessings below are quite possibly the reason for my exhaustion:)