Sleep Like a Baby

So much happens when you sleep. It's the time of the day when the brain (and body) processes the experiences of the day. The brain, possibly in it's most active state, filters and files. Muscle and tissue are repaired and restored. Hormones regulating cellular growth, reproduction and regeneration are released during sleep. Adequate sleep is linked to increased productivity, improved performance and immunity to common ailments.   

With so much at stake while you sleep, it's surprising that there isn't more time spent preparing for the most important part of the day. A pre-bedtime routine, not unlike the ones followed by babies, is the secret to a good night's sleep.

Do the Time - The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults. Lack of sleep impairs brain and body functions and increases risk of disease. Calculate backwards from the time needed to rise to determine what time to go to bed. Consider setting a 'go to bed' alarm as a reminder that it's time to hit the sack.

Signal the Slumber - Sending signals to your body and mind that it's time to wind down will help the body and mind transition to sleep. Simple and subtle things like changing out of your work (or workout) clothes, bathing to wash away the day, dimming lights and ditching devices, all act as prompts to your body and brain that it's time to rest.

Set the Stage - The environment where you sleep - noise, light, temperature - can impact your sleep. The ideal conditions are quiet, dark and cool. Create a sanctuary for sleep by removing clutter and electronic devices from you bedroom. Yes, that includes your cell phone.

Stay Clear of Stimulants - Spicy (or other hard to digest) foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine are substances that can sabotage sleep. For sufficient rest, avoid this stuff 4-6 hours before going to bed. It will be much easier to fall and stay asleep when the body is not over stimulated.

Work it Out - Physical activity during the day supports a deeper, more restful sleep. It doesn't have to be anything too strenuous - a walk, yoga or gardening can be just as effective as a run or invigorating bike ride. If the mind is particularly active before going to bed, spend a few moments writing in a journal. It's not necessary to completely clear the mind before going to sleep, but addressing any pressing matters will help the transition to a better sleep.

Wishing you all a good night's sleep.

Alice Curran is a personal Health Coach at Extra Mile Wellness. She provides judgement free support to women as they recover from burnout, survive stress and discover what makes them healthy.

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