We all know that sleep is pretty important. What many of us don’t realize is how critical it is to our overall health and wellbeing. When we’re talking about sleep we mean deep and restful, not the ‘tossing and turning’ kind. Sleep is critical to supporting your immune system! Studies show that not getting enough of it can leave you more vulnerable to viruses. Lack of sleep can also affect the speed of your recovery if you do get sick! Additionally, sleep deprivation can have an effect on building immunity after being vaccinated. On top of that, a recent study conducted at University of Washington exposed that the time needed for the vaccine to do its job took 2-3 times longer in the group of the sleep-deprived subjects compared to the well-rested ones! Not getting enough quality sleep can also lead to some serious health issues including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, just to name a few! What about an occasional night out, you may ask. Although it’s not great and you may feel tired, irritated and spaced out, a night without sleep won’t seriously harm your health. What’s really important is making sure you’re getting enough sleep on a daily basis. Quality rest will not only help you maintain your physical and mental wellbeing but can also resolve some underlying issues that are making your life more difficult. That being said, you should treat sleep as a necessity, a base of your everyday living. Even if you feel anxious, stressed or just not that tired, you can learn how to get a restful sleep every night. All you have to remember is that practice makes perfect, and getting your body into a routine is key with those techniques. And remember, there’s no better time to start than NOW!
1.Find out your family’s sleep requirements
Everyone is different and so are our sleeping needs. In an ideal world, you would have the time to go to sleep and wake up in line with your body’s internal clock, without worrying about putting the alarm on. Lockdown is the ideal time to run this experiment, as we all have more time to sleep-in. All you have to do is make sure all of you go to bed and wake up at your natural times. The next day repeat that, but make sure to write down the time everyone fell asleep and woke up the next morning. That will give you an idea of how much sleep everyone requires and so you can start adjusting your evening routine to make sure you all get enough sleep.
2. Program your brain for sleep
We humans like things being regular. And so your brain likes to rest at the same time every night. Once you find out how much sleep you all need you can start setting the daily routine by scheduling bedtime for all of you. It can be difficult to start with but will get easier with time once your body and mind get used to the regularity. Remember, it’s not all set in stone and leave room for flexibility, as there may be days when it simply won’t be possible.
3. Consider your productivity
We all have different working styles and although many things can be adjusted, some just can’t. If you are most productive in the early mornings and you like to get things done before the kids get up, try going to sleep an hour or two before your scheduled bedtime. This way you won’t have to sacrifice your sleep for morning productivity and you won’t disturb your circadian rhythm too much. If you are more productive in the evenings give yourself a deadline for going to sleep, especially if you have to get up early in the morning.
4 Find time to unwind
Although resting before getting rest may sound strange to you, it will actually help you fall asleep faster. Noone’s got the time to do it all but try at least some of the following:
Relax the body
- Take a warm (not hot) bath – it will help you reach an ideal temperature for rest. Try adding a few drops of lavender essential oil for some relaxing aromatherapy.
- Do yoga – Gentle stretches and asanas will help you relax the muscles. Remember to not overdo it!
- Have a warm drink – Ayurveda advises warm milk with nutmeg as a natural sleep aid. You can also try a relaxing herbal tea.
Relax the mind:
- Meditate – It will help you clear and calm the mind.
- Make a to-do list for the next day – Getting it all out on paper will help your brain let go for the night. It’s especially good if you’re suffering from ‘evening anxiety’.
- Distract the mind by reading or listening to stories – It will help you fall asleep more easily and it’s something you can practice with your children.
5. Get some herbs
Herbs are a natural way of helping you achieve a healthy body and mind. Instead of reaching for the sleeping pills try one of the following teas next time! You can include a relaxing herbal tea in your family’s daily evening routine.
The best herbs for facilitating sleep are:
- Lemon Balm
6. Ditch the screens
Don’t use your smartphone for at least an hour before going to bed. The blue light emitted from screens including phones, Ipads, laptops, can delay the release of melatonin, increase alertness and disrupt your body’s internal clock! Planning this evening downtime will be easier once you know your sleeping schedule. This can become the perfect time for some self-care and family time, especially if you’re finding it difficult to gather everyone together regularly! You can also use this time to take a bath, read or put your kids to bed. Not using screens can help you squeeze in some quality time with yourself and your loved ones!
7. Prepare the room
You now know how to prepare your mind and body for a restful sleep. What’s left is getting your bedroom ready. As you’re falling asleep your body temperature drops, that’s why the best temperature for sleep is between 17-19 degrees! For babies and toddlers, it should be slightly higher – about 21-23 degrees. Make sure the room is dark, quiet and comfortable. Investing in a good quality mattress is always a good idea! Your bedroom should be a relaxing environment, try to keep the TV and other electronic devices out.
Now you’re equipped in the necessary knowledge to approach your evening routine like a true biohacker! Remember that the key is trying out different techniques and finding what works for you. It will take some time but once you find that perfect routine for yourself and the family, your body and mind will thank you for it!