New Year New You: Get more sleep

The following posts are from our January 2014 series “New Year, a New You.”  One article will be posted each day in January to discuss building a better you.  Article topics will vary every day.  We will present various ways to improve your life physically, spiritually, financially and emotionally. Click here to view previous posts.

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Our fast paced American lifestyle is just that – fast. Sometimes too fast. And more often than not things get neglected when life is too fast, one of those being sleep. As Americans we tend to think that’s
just life and there’s nothing we can do about it. We certainly wouldn’t go to our friends bragging about being malnourished, so why do we take pride in being so extremely busy that we do not get the proper amount of
sleep a human body needs? The simple truth is this: sleep is important. It’s our body’s reset button, it’s our organs cleansing us off the toxins we’ve accumulated that day, it’s our brain recalling what we’ve learned that past 24 hours, it’s a necessity.

This new year, vow to get the ZZZs you actually NEED. It’s time to put a good night’s rest on the pedestal it deserves. Here are some easy ways to get started:

1. Create a Bedtime Routine
Help signal your body to prepare for sleep by establishing an easy and simple routine. You could dim the lights, do a few stretches, brush your teeth, wash your face, put on your pajamas, read a book to your children, or read for yourself for about 10 minutes before turning off the lights. You could even set the alarm on your phone to remind you that your bedtime routine needs to start so you don’t get caught up in a movie.

2. Stick to the Same Schedule All Week
Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day.  That is not what you want to hear, but not being on a schedule confuses your body. Getting out of the grove over the weekend is just going to make Monday even harder. And nobody needs or wants a difficult Monday.

3. Make Sure Your Bedroom is Dark
Light, especially blue light from a laptop or TV, signals to your body that it’s early morning. And that’s not the message you want to send at bedtime. Try to turn off electronics an hour before your bedtime routine
begins. That includes your phone too; you can leave it on in case of an emergency, but tweets and IG photos can be viewed in the morning.

4. Create the Right Environment
Get your brain in the habit of knowing your bedroom for sleeping. Don’t sit in bed to pay your bills, do your homework, watch television, eat, talk on the phone, etc., your brain will associate the bedroom with daytime activities. Instead, create an environment that is suitable for sleeping. Equip your room with soft lighting, comfortable bedding, and relaxing music. If you’ve got a television in your room, get it out. Your bedroom should be a place your body associates with nothing else but sleep.

5. Purge Your Thoughts
If you’ve got much on your mind: a do-to list, a meeting in the morning, a speaking engagement, or even a conversation earlier in the day that wasn’t pleasant, get out a paper and pen. Write those thoughts and/or
points down so you can get them out of your head. Clear your mind before sleep.

6. Limit Food and Drink Before Bed
Acids in the stomach level out, making heartburn and indigestion more likely to occur, as you lie down to sleep.  Also, your metabolism increases slightly to digest food, which can also raise your energy level. Stop eating at least three hours before bedtime. If you must snack on something, keep it small like a granola bar, some toast, or a
small bowl of cereal. No caffeine after 2 PM, as caffeine can stay in your system 5-10 hours. Alcohol may be a depressant, but after its sedative effects wear off, your sleep patterns will suffer.

Sleep deprivation is not a badge of honor. Sadly, in America today, it’s an attitude we’ve adopted to act like being so busy that you must go without sleep to get it all done is something to be proud of. Make changes today to get your sleep back on track. There will be times when going with little sleep is an unfortunate necessity, but it shouldn’t be
adopted as a way of life.

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