Sleep is a vital component of your health. It helps you regenerate skin cells and organ tissue, repair muscles and brain cells - not to mention learning integration! When your physical body is taken care of, then your mind naturally has more focus, clarity, and can maintain positive mental states. Because so often we hear that we need 8 hours for optimal sleep, most people think that anything less is not restorative. However, this is a giant myth!
The key is actually just uninterrupted sleep.
5 hours of uninterrupted sleep is more effective than 7, 8 or more hours of interrupted sleep.
Here are six things that may be waking you up at night, or preventing you from getting quality sleep:
1. Caffeine and/or Carbs after 3pm: In Aryuvedic medicine, your “digestive fire” (read: digestion) is at its peak during lunch time. This is the time to have your heaviest meal of the day. As your body prepares for sleep and your melatonin rises just before the evening, your digestion begins to slow down with your natural circadian rhythm. If your body is spending too much time on digestion, you don’t spend quality time in rejuvenated states of sleep. Additionally, caffeine and sugar can delay the process.
2. Screen Time: It’s best practice to turn off all of your devices, screens, and the lights in your bedroom off at least 30 minutes before you plan to go to sleep. There is robust scientific research that proves that keeping the lights on - even if it’s coming from the screen on your phone - induces wake states.
3. Mentally Preparing For The Next Day: Many of us spend the moments before we close our eyes planning for the next day. However, it’s best to actually write out your laundry list of things to do tomorrow before you go to bed. When you remove the list from your thoughts and onto paper, you give yourself permission to keep your sole focus on relaxation. You can jot down some notes in your phone before you turn it off for the night, set your reminders, and then hold the intention of enjoying deeper sleep, knowing that you don’t have to “remember” to do anything tomorrow.
4. Momma Bear Syndrome: Most women report being “light sleepers” after having children. This is because we now have a protective mechanism that alerts us in the event that our cubs are in danger. The slightest sound of a pin drop can wake you! If you’re a mom, it’s important to get support from your tribe. Suggest designated days with someone like dad, grandma, or aunt who can take the night shift in case your child does wake up, so that you have the opportunity to get more restorative nights of sleep.
5. Day Time Stress: This is the number one culprit of most modern day body ailments. Choose a routine to de-stress, even if you think you haven’t had a “bad day”. Your day doesn’t need to seem stressful or negative, in order to unwind from the everyday noise in your head. In fact, the more time you spend in grounded states, the easier it will become to maintain your center when you are in the hurricane’s eye of stressful situations. Best practices can be anything from a light exercise to listening to slow, unwinding music, or even journaling. Of course, a meditation practice works wonders too.
6. What You Watch Before Bed: If you are watching or reading negative news stories before going to sleep, this could also be affecting your body’s ability to relax. I suggest filling your mind with gratitude statements, affirmations in a journal, or watching your Mind Movie before bed. Your subconscious is in a much more suggestible state right before bed, so it’s a great way to fill your mind with positive and calming images before sleep.
As you can see, sleep is important in more ways than you may have thought. Do you have any tips for our community on how to achieve a successful nights rest? Let us know in the comments below.
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Natalie Ledwell is a best selling author, speaker and successful entrepreneur. She's passionate about helping others to achieve their greatest dreams and ambitions through her personal development programs and her online TV show, The Inspiration Show.