America the Sleep Deprived
“I just got to catch up on my sleep!”
“I need my beauty rest!”
“You should always strive for a full 8 hours!”
“I’ll sleep when I die!”
How many time have we heard ourselves or others say these things? And how many times have we actually followed through with these reminders and advice? Currently 1 in 3 Americans don’t get enough sleep (at least 7 hours). Unfortunately this is an epidemic in our culture. We take pride in our busyness and wear it as a badge of honor when we should be applauding each other for resting. Humans were meant to take breaks. We were made to sleep. Yet, we are more connected and busy than we have ever been in history of humanity. With the pressure of the corporate world breathing down our necks, the pressure to climb the ladder moves us to work endlessly until we make it to the top. We overbook ourselves and try to juggle a social life, work life, home life, and somehow sleep falls in there somewhere. We go to therapy and say we are stressed and exhausted. We get prescribed sleeping pills. We cope in other ways by over-caffeinating. We leave no time in our days for self care. We don’t exercise, we don’t eat healthy, and we don’t sleep. This leaves us burnt out and running on constant fumes. It can only be a matter of time before the burnout brings us to a screeching halt and we find ourselves at the end of our ropes. The problem is, we aren’t creating boundaries for ourselves when it comes to sleep.
Sleep Means Everything to Our Bodies
Many people imagine sleep as a waste of time where our bodies lay comatose doing nothing for 8 hours. This is untrue. Our bodies are healing and repairing themselves. They work tirelessly through the night to equip us for the next upcoming day. When you fall asleep your body begins working on a long laundry list of tasks. Sleep helps balance out your hormones, produce more white blood cells to defend yourself against viruses, and reduce inflammation. Sleep is important. It’s crucial to our overall health and well being. When a person get’s a good amount of sleep during the night, they eat few calories, are more athletic, are healthier emotionally and have better social interactions. We need to start viewing sleep as an ally and not a hindrance in making ourselves weapons and warriors in our daily lives.
Make Sleep A Priority
Okay, so yes, we’ve all know that sleeping is in fact important. Everyone knows this. But getting the right amount of sleep can be a different story. It can be downright impossible for some people. 60% of Americans have a sleeping disorder. Some people experience anxiety, insomnia, sleep apnea, meanwhile while the other majority just aren’t trying hard enough. Clearly counting sheep doesn’t cut it anymore. Sleep must be made a priority, better yet, a best friend. Sleep will heal your body and sharpen your mind. In order to do that, one must make room for it. It's never easy cutting certain things out of your life, but sleep will make your life better. For example, consider that you might have a huge work project coming up and have to put in extra hours during the night for it. You might think to yourself, “if I can just power through this, I’ll sleep when I can later, and eventually be done with it.” The truth is, when you get an adequate amount of sleep, you will function better and faster than if you were to power through the night with a coffee in one hand until the break of dawn. Stop working until midnight or until one, two, or three in the morning. Set a deadline and stick to when you will stop working each night. Our circadian rhythms have been bumped off course because artificial blue light from our phones, computers, and televisions. We are disrupting melatonin from being released into our brains in order for us to get sleepy. Turn off or limit your time on electronics so your body can get back on track.
Create A Sleep Ritual
Having a pre-sleep routine can drastically change the way you view sleep. Thoughts become actions which become habits. Therefore it’s a good idea to sit down and consider what you would put in your night time routine. Evaluate your room and what you will need in order to achieve this. It’s important to look at your bedroom as a sanctuary where you can retreat to in order to find rest. Here are a few tips in order to get your sleep routine on point.
1. Make a goal for yourself to be in bed at a certain time. Stick to it.
2. Don’t eat before going to bed.
3. Turn off/limit the use electronics at least two hours before going to bed
5. Listen to relaxing music
7. Start turning off lights early on
9. Clear your mind: reflect by writing in a journal
10. Get morning tasks out of the way: pick out your clothes and make lunch for the next day
11. Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time everyday. Consistency is key.
12. Don’t check your clock. Calculating how many hours and minutes of sleep you will get from this exact moment won’t get you there any faster. (We’ve all played that game before and it never ends well).
13. Never underestimate the power of a good pillow, blanket, mattress, pajama’s, and room darkening shades. Investing in sleep with give you exponential benefits in other areas of life.
14. Discover your ritual, and then do that every night.
Sleep can make you a better person. Instead of pushing it away or even wrestling with it, embrace it and welcome it. With a little bit of dedication and determination, you will begin to realize just how impactful doing this will be. So friends, stop the scrolling, put down the phone, douse yourself in lavender oil and get to sleeping! It’s time to hang out with your best friend more!