5 strategies for better sleep
What if you could go to bed and fall asleep in a few minutes?
Without tossing. And turning. And stressing yourself about it?
What if your sleep could be uninterrupted and you could wake up feeling rested and energized in the morning?
I think you would all agree with me in saying that we are experiencing unprecedented times.
The world as we knew it changed in a blink of a second.
Almost all of us used to be very busy people.
We were waking up very early in the morning, having a cup of coffee and maybe some breakfast on the run.
Some were rushing to drop off the kids to school.
Then rushing like crazy in the busy traffic on the way to the office or our meetings.
We were having lunch on the run, most likely from fast food, or a food truck, or a vending machine. Often we were even skipping lunch.
Deadlines were coming in fast, projects, and tasks were piling up like crazy.
And at the end of the day, we were all rushing back home.
Some were driving the kids to activities, others were rushing to cook dinner for the family or were rushing to the gym for a cardio or spin or a yoga class.
Some were also joggling in side hustles.
And when the day was almost done, we were all searching for some stress relief options: a glass of wine or two, Netflix, endlessly scrolling through social media to take our minds off of the insanely busy days, and weeks and months.
There has never been one person I know that wasn’t complaining about not having enough time to spend with their families, friends, or simply by themselves to get a breather and relax.
We were all living from one holiday to the other to unwind and recharge.
And one day our wishes were granted.
In a different, unexpected, and scary way, but it did happen.
Almost from one day to the next we were stuck at home. Some with our families, others alone.
And the ugliness of the reason that brought us to this place, the insecurities around our jobs, our businesses, and our future brought up a lot of issues, fears, and anxiety.
I’ve seen that in myself and all the people I’ve been interacting with since all this worldwide lockdown started.
Everybody is struggling to readjust to the new reality.
But the thing is, it’s not easy!
And we are using coping mechanisms which are not always the most beneficial ones for our health: extra snacking, extra drinking, late nights watching Netflix…
…They might be at hand, but they’re not the best options.
They just add extra kilos and, a lot of guilt and shame and, they are just like gasoline on the fire to anxiety.
Poor quality sleep, anxiety, and binging (of whichever type) seem to be the common thread in all the interactions I’ve been seeing lately, in my coaching calls, during discussions with friends, family, and people I work or get to interact with.
And they can take a real toll on our health and our lives, each of them feeding off each other and creating a vicious cycle.
If you’re asking me, I think sleep is under-rated.
I grew up thinking that sleep was a waste of time. Not that long ago I used to pride myself on being able to go by with only three or four hours of sleep every night.
We are a sleep-deprived population in a perpetual state of tiredness.
Under the pressure of social arousal and/or stress factors, many of us fall far behind with sleep.
We go to bed too late at night and we barely drag ourselves out of the bed in the morning.
The situation is even worse now, with the COVID-19 reality which has turned our lives upside down.
The thing about sleep is that it’s the time when our brains get to process all the experiences from the previous day.
During sleep, our bodies detox, flush out debris and recover.
For kids, sleep is even more important, as it’s the time when their brains and their little bodies grow.
You’ve probably heard the term circadian rhythm. This is the sleep-wake cycle, a 24-hour internal clock that we all have running in the back of our brains, which regulates the way our brains and our bodies work.
This internal clock is strongly connected to daylight and darkness.
When the night falls, the brain sends the signal to our bodies to relax and rest, and when the daylight sets in, to wake up and be aroused.
At night our bodies release melatonin, an essential hormone for good night sleep.
In the morning they release cortisol, helping us to feel awake and energized.
When we’re sleep-deprived, the hormones in our bodies are thrown off balance and, besides feeling lousy, grumpy, and lacking energy, we will most likely feel the need to overeat.
Learning to optimize day and night sleep cycles based on our metabolic needs is an important element if we want to stay healthy, sane, and in a good mood.
Here are a few ideas and strategies I have to offer to improve your sleep and your overall well being:
- To the best of your ability, aim for going to bed and waking up around the same time every day, no matter whether it’s weekend or not.
- Create a sleep routine that we’ll allow your body to unwind and create a correlation in your brain between the activities in your routine and sleep. Having a bubble bath with some essential oils, reading a book that might transport you to a different world, writing in your journal are just some examples to inspire you.
- Open the bedroom windows to allow fresh air in before going to bed and lower the temperature in the room for a proper sleep environment.
- Close the shades to have complete darkness during your sleep and take a trip to the window to open them and breathe in fresh air first thing in the morning. If stress and anxiety wake you up at night and you can’t fall back asleep, refer to your routine if that’s available, as it will trigger the routine – sleep connection in your brain.
- Meditation and/or breathwork are very effective tools in calming the mind, soothing the nervous system, and relaxing the body for good night sleep.
I included a link down below to a guided meditation and breathwork I recorded for you. It should help you fall asleep easier, sleep through the night uninterrupted, and wake up feeling rested and energized in the morning.
I hope you will find it useful and that it will help you as much as it helped hundreds of other people whom I taught this exercise to before.
Please leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts about it.