Get More Sleep
I was so giddy with excitement I almost wet the bed. Literally. After 10 years of old mattress use, I recently received a new firm, cushy mattress to support my back and lull me to dreaming comfort.
My beauty sleep rates right up there with kale as a must have. Multitudes of scientific findings have my back - elevated mood, increased focus and creativity, improved weight loss, better memory and cognitive skills, longevity, and even enhanced sex drive all result from getting consistent zzz's. Makes me wonder why people brag about getting so little sleep. You know these people - "I only need 4 hours a night!" I have one word for those people - "liars."
I have one golden rule - if I'm sleeping, don't bother me. Some of my friends have witnessed me operating under 7 hours of sleep. I dare you to ask them about it.
I decided to compile my list of habits to cultivate regular reset and recharge time. For that is really what we are doing. Our bodies - physical, mental and spiritual - repair as we sleep. If you're on a regular workout schedule, sleep is imperative to repair muscle tissue. You can't keep breaking it down - at some point you need to stop and rebuild.
We digest and eliminate thoughts and emotions through dreams. That moment of bliss just before you drift off to la-la land? It's probably the closest many of us will come to spiritual enlightenment.
Follow at least 6-8 of these, and you'll be off to a land filled with unicorns and rainbows in no time:
- Invest in a good mattress. Firm is best for lumbar support, but most people like the comfort of a medium firm mattress. Your preference may also depend on if you like to sleep on your back or side.
- Keep the room cool. Recommended sleeping temperature is 65-68°. Some experts say as low as 60°, but I ain't no polar bear. I don't think this will come as a shock to anyone when I say men usually prefer an Arctic type chill in the room, while the ladies prefer more of a tropical cool breeze. Personally I don't love air conditioning, so as long as I can get away with keeping the windows open and the fan blowing, I do. Which, given I now live in Texas is about 3 days out of the year.
- Speaking of air - crack a window or two to circulate fresh air, even during the winter months. When I lived in NYC, the noise from the street was just too unbearable. I can quickly make a case for living in a quiet, rural setting.
- I know this must be about the 50th time you've read this in my blogs but turn off all electronics by 9:00-10:00pm, depending on what time you go to bed. And for the love of God, please don't watch TV right before bed. Do I need to tell you that the bedroom is no place for television? Your room is meant for three things and three things only. Sleep. Reading. I'll let you come up with the 3rd.
- Keep fairly consistent sleep hours no matter the day. Don't "make up for sleep" on the weekends. The occasional 2 am dance party is always necessary. Just don't make it a habit.
- While we're on the topic - early to bed, early to rise. According to Ayurveda, we start to get pretty sluggish during the Kapha cycle of the day, or from 6pm-10pm. Which is why, if we stay up much past 10pm, we may feel that "second wind" at 11pm or midnight. That's no burst of energy - that's Pitta time when that "second wind" energy should be digesting thoughts, unprocessed emotions and "stuff" we've accumulated throughout the day. I know being in bed by 9:30pm is unheard of in most cities - heck in NYC you're usually just sitting down to eat - but do your best to at the very least start winding down by that time.
- Since we're talking about eating, it's best to not eat past 7 or 7:30pm (Ayurveda would say 6 or 6:30pm but I'm well aware the world we inhabit does not really accommodate that unless you are seven or seventy) and certainly not a heavy meal. Again, I understand this flies in the face of the American way, but unless you're taking evening strolls under the moonlight, it's best to keep it light. Most of us are eating and parking our butts on the couch. As mentioned above, sleep is our body's time to digest thoughts and emotions and it can't do that if it's still working on the steak and mashed potatoes from 2 hours ago.
- Have a hot toddy. Warm milk with spices can calm and soothe us to prepare for deeper rest. Try warming some milk with cinnamon, coriander, and black pepper. Strain spices and whip it up with a little coconut oil and honey. Or try homemade ginger lemon tea with some honey. When all else fails, try this Ojas drink and forget about it.
- Speaking of drinks, avoid caffeine and other drinkable stimulants after 3pm. I know, I know. Sacrilege for many of you. But consider the reason you may only need 4 hours of sleep a night is because you are too jacked up for your nervous system to calm down. Also, I'm not your mother, but know that alcohol, including wine, does NOT help you sleep better. It actually disrupts a healthy sleep cycle. That's all I'm going to say on that.
- And last but not least don't EVER . . . ooops, sorry. It's 9:30pm. Computer shut down.
What habits do you have to help you get your sleep? Share them in the comments below.