If I don't get a good night's sleep, I can barely function the following day. I am sure a lot of our readers can relate to that, and in fact, studies have shown that women do need more sleep than men. In the last couple of years, I have started to look at the simple act of going to bed as a ritual: All of the steps we take before going to sleep contribute towards the quality of our sleep which contributes to our quality of life.
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Benefits of experiencing a good night's sleep:
- Healing the body (Think of sleep as the time that the body is literally restoring and healing itself. Pretty clever!)
- Losing weight or helping you retain a healthy weight
- Boosts memory and creativity
- Sharpens attention
- Lowers stress
Long-term, chronic sleep deprivation increases risk of weight gain, depression, and even diabetes. Having a good night's sleep, not just once, but consistently, is one of the keys to maintaining overall well-being, happiness, and health. Aren't those things we all want to achieve?
There are a few quick fixes that could help immediate sleep issues such as: Don't consume caffeine or sugary drinks in the afternoon/evening, try not to eat a big meal right before you go to sleep, and keeping your room tidy. (That last one really helped me! I realised that my sleep was being affected by mess in my room. Once I tidied up, and these unconscious distractions were away from my immediate surroundings, I was sleeping much better.)
But how can we achieve a great night's sleep when we're all so busy all of the time? If you gift yourself an extra 30-60 minutes before bed to incorporate some of these ideas into your routine and manage to achieve fantastic sleep, within no time at all you will feel the benefits, mentally and physically! You will probably find you're much more productive after a good night's sleep. You'll probably end up gaining time, and if you have more energy, you'll achieve so much more!
We'd like to share with you 5 more tips to help turn your bedtime into a perfect, sleep-inducing ritual:
1. Turn off your phone.
30-60 minutes before bed, turn off electronics. I know it's hard. I know Facebook is addictive and you have e-mails to check, but Facebook will still be there in the morning, as will your emails. Do yourself a kindness, switch it off and leave it downstairs. If you need it for an alarm (like I do!) turn off the WiFi and put the phone on the other side of your room. Leaving work (and potentially stress) outside of your 'sleep zone' will do marvels for your mental health, wellbeing, and sleep quality.
2. Reading before bed
Instead of scrolling through Instagram, watching repeats of the Kardashians, or stressing about work (no judgement: all things I have been guilty of) try settling into several pages of a book instead. Reading before bed really is such a great way of switching your mind off from what has been going on that day, and sinking into a pure state of relaxation.
If you don't feel like reading, there are a multitude of meditation videos on Youtube (note: you don't need to look at your phone, you just need headphones) which are perfect for ultimate relaxation and peace. Sometimes, I fall asleep halfway through the meditation! Winding down with meditation, or even meditating when you wake up, does wonders for peace of mind, stress levels, helping you to sleep, improving brain function ... the list goes on.
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4. Gentle exercise and stretching
Easing tension in the muscles with gentle stretches improves circulation which aids in getting a good night of sleep. Stretching relaxes the body and steadies the breath, removing tension that may have built up during the day. Here are 7 yoga exercises to help you fall asleep faster. (http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/7-yoga-stretches-help-you-fall-asleep-fast)
5. Finally: Set the mood, and use the power of fragrance.
If you've turned off your phone and prepared some time for reading, meditation, exercise, or even all three, then you've taken some big steps towards improving sleep! With so much brightness from technology/lights around us these days, it's important to let your body know when it's time to sleep. Make sure that the lights are dimmed, to signal to your body clock that it's ready to settle down for the night.
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If you've followed some of these steps you should now have a perfect, peaceful sleep space: A gorgeous tidy bedroom, no distractions or stresses from the outside world, low lighting, and a beautiful fragrance.
I'd love to see more people taking care of themselves: sleeping properly, practicing self-care, and showing self-love. With all of those things comes a happier, healthier, more confident society!
I'd love to hear from you! Please share with us in the comments how you ritualise your sleep practice, or if our steps have benefited your sleep cycle!