15 Tips to Harness the Rejuvenating Power of Sleep!
The irony of sleep is that it is so often overlooked as a primary function of our health and well-being. It’s one of the first things we quickly discard in our hectic routines erroneously thinking we can ‘catch up on it,’ or ‘sleep when we’re dead.’ Our bodies regenerate at night; they recreate bad cells, process toxins, cleanse systems, focus our minds, ramp up our muscular strength. There’s nothing quite like waking up feeling completely focused and inspired with the energy to take on all of your dreams!
So we all know that we are supposed to get a good night’s sleep; however, how exactly do we do that? Well, first of all there is the consideration of SLEEP PATTERNS. Like anything health and fitness-related the best advice is to listen to your body. Some people need their 8, other people don’t need 8 and can cat nap and still be fine with less sleep at night. I don’t advocate any particular sleep pattern, just listen to your body and know what works for you! Sleep patterns can often be cultural, generational, and biochemical as well. We all have those friends who are ‘night owls’ and seem to better function between the hours of 10pm and 4am!
Getting a good night’s sleep will definitely help you improve your fitness goals.
The key to know if your sleep patterns work for you is how you feel when you get up. If you are waking up tired and fatigued with a cloudy mind, you might need to adjust EITHER your sleep patterns and the tips I’m sharing in this article, OR both. If you wake up feeling completely rejuvenated then it sounds like you’re getting a great night’s sleep! You still might benefit from some of the sleep solutions below.
15 Mix and Match Solutions to Better Sleep!
1. Dryer Your Pillow
Allergens and dust can interfere with our sleep by plugging up our air passageways. A tip I use is to dry my pillows every other day for 15 minutes. I still wash my bedding at least once a week, but I throw my pillows in the dryer for 15 minutes every other day. This kicks out the dust and allergens that can be transferred to our pillows by us, our clothes, pets, environment, etc.
2. Nose Strips
If you have mild sleep apnea, you may want to consider buying nose strips. These open your airflow and can give you a good night’s sleep by simply allowing yourself to breathe. If our air passageways are blocked we often are getting up frequently throughout the night thereby never getting into our deepest REM sleep, that’s the rejuvenative type.
3. Dark and Quiet
Our ancient ancestors slept because it was dark out! Our modern life can make that scenario a bit more complicated. Create a space that is dark and quiet, this is a great sleep aid. If you have lights that you cannot immediately block out, find a nice, clean, soft dark shirt and place it over your eyes when you sleep.
4. Green Tea
Drinking green tea is not just beneficial as a cleanser, it is also said to be a good sleeping aid. I love teas and personally need to drink more.
5. Warm Shower
Setting a ‘ready-for-bed’ routine is a fun thing. A great way to wash off the stress and events of the day is to take a nice warm shower. The warm water relaxes the muscles and creates a relaxing embrace; imagine yourself in a luxurious spa!
6. Avoid Screens
This one is a tuffy for most people, I think. As much of our modern entertainment stimulation comes from televisions, computers, or phones, avoiding screens before bedtime might amount to less of a technique and more of a habit-shifting lifestyle change! It’s really simple, however, just find something else to do. Read a ‘real’ book, talk with your family, take a five minute walk, or stretch out. Screens block the production of specific sleep-friendly chemicals that our brains produce to help put us in a tranquil state.
7. Thought Listing
I often think myself to sleep. I have thoughts running over and over in my head leading me into a restless state and I find myself groggy the next day. What helps me to combat this state is to write pressing ideas and solutions down. I just jot down a quick LIST of things to do the following day or ideas to write about; I’ll often receive my most brilliant insights just as I lay down so I’ll get up and list them out quickly then return to bed refreshed knowing they are safe and accounted for.
Relaxed muscles can produce a relaxed state of mind. Try stretching for a few minutes, nothing strenuous and complex, just basic muscle stretches to relax your body. If you have problem areas, focus on those. When I sleep I like to elongate my spine it helps me relax and puts me into a deeper sleep.
9. No Caffeine After 12pm
Another tuffy for many people, especially me! Caffeine is not a bad thing, but it can interfere with your sleep patterns if you consume too much of it too close to bedtime. Then again, it all depends on your tolerances and your body. I’ve had days where my habitual consumption of caffeine was elevated more than normal and it effected my sleep; other days where I laid off the coffee for a few days and then drank a cup right before I slept and had one of the best night’s sleep ever! Like anything in life, it’s all about moderation and balance.
10. No Alcohol Before Bedtime
This is a no-no. Alcohol is a serious threat to sleep; the obvious irony is that we inevitably consume it right before sleeping. Detox for at least a week, you’ll feel better! Again, moderation!
11. Don’t Exercise Too Late
This is another know your body situation. Personally, I’ve never liked working out in the evening or late at night; however, our schedules may only allow late workouts. For me, I’m at my max weightlifting strength and performance during the day and that is exactly when I like to target my training. If you are working out or exercising too close to bedtime, it can throw off your sleep patterns as your body needs time to slow down its metabolism and end certain chemical cycles that it goes through with intense physical activities. Also, post-workout nutritional meals factor into this as well as the body is now focused on digestion rather than cell rejuvenation. Exercise at least 3 hours before sleep is what I hear being recommended
“It’s all in your mind!” Our mental health is so importantly connected to our physical health, and our mental state before sleeping plays a huge function in how much recuperative sleep we get. The key here is to RELAX. Get in a happy state. A quick meditation can often do the trick to clear the mind of pressing issues and even provide answers to them by quieting the soul and letting the Universe speak to us! When you meditate before as a part of your ‘ready-for-bed’ routine you might find yourself making more lists as well. Breathe for life!
13. Avoid chronic stress
Oh stress, oh stress. Reducing stress in our lives is something that cannot be overstated. I talk about stress in this article: The Single BEST and WORST Things for Your Health, and about avoiding chronic burnout in this article: 10 Ways I Got Rid of Burnout Once and For All – My Emergency Burnout Kit!
14. Daily Diet
What you consume definitely affects your sleep. I am not going to write presumptively sweeping, stereotypical comments on nutrition here as people’s bodies and lifestyles are immensely different. I would say consult a physician or dietician you can trust on how to best maximize your diet; avoid too much internet speculation on serious health-related issues. Just know that there is a connection between diet and sleep. For example, many say: “don’t eat right before bed…” Well, I can do this and sleep just fine; there are as many counterexamples as there are examples, so go and get a qualified, licensed opinion on your specific body’s needs. Again, know your body.
15. Drink Water
I saved the BEST FOR LAST! I am a self-proclaimed water cheerleader! One of the best things you can do for your health is to DRINK WATER! Drink 8 – 10 glasses a day if you can. Again, know your body! 8 – 10 might be too much for you depending on your age, weight, physical activity, etc., so know what is right for you. I drink a lot of water because I workout 5 days a week in addition to hikes and other strenuous physical activity . . . I need it! Water flushes your system and keeps you hydrated. I drink coffee, which is a diuretic, and I take into account things like this when looking at my daily water intake.
Feel free to write down the numbers of the solutions that work for you; mix and match as you need to produce the best results! Happy Sleep and Rejuvenation! 🙂
I hope this article has benefited you! Thank you for reading this article and being a part of NOW-Power!
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