The older I’ve gotten, the more value I understand sleep to have. And I value my sleep….every little second of it.
I used to not be this way. There was a point in time where it wouldn’t have phased me to get 3 hours of sleep, work a full day and take care of my family. Well not anymore folks! Now, when I’m ready for bed, watch out! In fact, a running joke my husband makes when I’m crabby is “well Jenn needs a nap or a snack”. Most cases I probably need both, not gonna lie.
The National Sleep Foundation compiled information from a 2 year study on sleep and what did it find? Well for starters the recommendation for 8 hours of sleep holds true, but mainly for adults. Teenagers, children, and the elderly vary. (I’m convinced I’m still a child by the way since they are recommended a whopping 11 hours of sleep….that sounds glorious to me).
One thing I think is important to remind ourselves too is that it’s not always about the quantity of sleep, but also the quality. If I go to bed at 8:30 PM and my room is humid hot which causes me to toss and turn, chances are even if I wake up at 7:00 AM, I’m not going to feel well rested.
One thing I talk to my clients about often (not to mention friends or family) is sleep hygiene. Here’s the general rundown I give:
- Turn off your electronics. This one is one I actually find is the hardest for most people, myself included at times. A lot of people have substituted reading a book for reading on their phone, or playing a game. What’s wrong with that? Well, the major issue is the light from the screen messes with your circadian rythym and makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. Try turning your phone or electronics off about an hour before bed. Replace the time scrolling through Facebook with something else you can do sans electronics.
- Avoid caffeine late in the day. Did you know there is actually optimal times to consume caffeine? And yep, it’s based on your circadian rythym. When you’re sleeping, just before you wake your cortisol (stress hormone) levels increase giving you the “jolt” you need to get out of bed and get moving. This is why you shouldn’t (yes I said SHOULD NOT) reach for your coffee pot immediately while rubbing the sleep from your eyes. The optimal time for caffeine is about 1-2 hours after waking, and have only one to two cups at that time. Then nothing after about 3:00 pm…or at least not 5 hours within your typical bed time. I used to be one of those immediate coffee grabbers- so I hear your skepticism. But trust me, I saw a major difference in my energy levels and even my anxiety when I started caffeine at optimal times.
- Take a warm bath or shower and then keep a cool room. Your body will have to work a little harder to adjust your body temperature, keeping you relaxed and prepared for sleepiness.
- Exercise or move your body during the day. Have you ever noticed if you spend the day lounging on the couch watching Netflix it’s hard to fall asleep that night? Well, if you think about it, it makes sense. Your body didn’t have to expend much energy to Netflix and chill, so of course you’re not going to be as tired.
- Go to bed and wake up around the same time. This helps your body’s natural clock (aka circadian rythym) stay consistent, and when your internal clock is consistent you are less fatigued because your body doesn’t have to work as hard at figuring out what the heck you are doing.
- Listen to your body! This one may be the most important. It’s okay to need sleep and to allow yourself time to sleep. It’s not lazy to listen to your body and take care of your sleep needs. That said, if you feel you are sleeping too much or despite getting enough sleep still feel tired, go to the doctor. Things like low Vitamin D, Thyroid disorders, depression, and other physical illnesses can sometimes be the cause of daytime sleepiness.
So everyone, sleep is important! Make sure you get what you need.
Until next time,