Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

How do you feel about the quantity and quality of your sleep? If you are fighting fatigue and burnout, one of the first evaluations you should make begins in your bedroom. The quantity and quality of restful sleep you are experiencing are directly related to your ability to manage stress.

Sleep is our body’s time to repair and rejuvenate itself from the damage accrued in day-to-day life. How we sleep is as important as our actual need to sleep. Being able to sleep in a safe and comfortable environment, free from distractions, is key to nurturing meaningful rest periods.

Here are Three ‘Thieves’ that Rob You of Quality Sleep:

Inconsistent Bedtimes- Do the demands of your day dictate when you go to sleep and what time you wake up? Working until the wee hours of the night and getting up before dawn isn’t the best practice for your well-being. Setting a designated bedtime and sticking to it will encourage you to stay focused and finish your work when you are awake. Pareto’s principle states that the time it takes us to complete a task expands or contracts to fit the time we have decided to give ourselves to finish. In this case, giving yourself a specific bedtime will ensure that what you need to get done will happen in the time prior to your bedtime. Consistency in your bedtime routine will improve your stamina and help avoid burnout.

Smartphones and Devices- Smartphones, televisions, iPads, and computers are all designed to help make our work easier and entertainment more accessible. The truth is, these things have no place in your bedroom. Science is proving that screen time before bed is detrimental to your quality and quantity of sleep, and the time for intimacy that you may be missing with your partner. Consider making your bedroom a screen-free zone and a sacred space for rejuvenation and connection.

Anxiety and Worry- The connection between poor sleep and anxiety may seem like a “chicken and egg” scenario. Does lack of sleep lead to anxiety, or does anxiety cause lack of sleep? No matter the cause, anxiety is a thief of quality sleep. Getting serious about tackling whatever trouble may be happening in your life that is causing you to be anxious will help you find rest in the bedroom.

Here are Three ways to Improve Your Sleep Quality:

Soothing and Comfortable Environments- One of the best indicators of the quality and quantity of your sleep is the state of your bedroom itself. From the temperature of the room to the thread count of your sheets, the details matter. Having an environment that is free of distractions such as noise, light, or too few or too many blankets makes all the difference when it comes to your sleep. Create an environment that promotes comfort and calm, and your sleep quality will improve dramatically.

Exercise and Eating Well- Believe it or not, what you eat and how you exercise affects your sleep. Eating foods that are high in salt or too spicy for your digestive system during the day can affect your ability to stay in a deep sleep. Eating food too close to bedtime can also affect your quality of sleep. Drinking too much water and having to wake up multiple times to use the bathroom can break your cycle of restorative sleep and leave you feeling tired and worn out. Exercise is a key contributor to high-quality sleep. Cardio and muscle training are excellent ways to ensure you sleep deeper and harder. Even those with anxiety report that working out helps them fight insomnia that worrying causes. Schedule workouts multiple days per week to increase your quality of sleep.

Evening Rituals- Your body is set to a rhythm. You are working in sync with calendars, clocks, and other routines that create the rhythm of your life. Your evening rituals can enhance these rhythms and get you ready for a great night’s sleep. Begin with an evening routine that is consistent, and promotes peace and harmony in your home. After work, take some time to reconnect with your spouse, help kids with homework, and prepare for the next day. Pack backpacks and place them by the door. Verify what you need to be ready for the next day and get organized. Eat a healthy dinner at the table with your family and engage together in meaningful conversation. Limit television and computer usage. Make distinctive transitions between mealtime and bedtime prep: including showers, brushing of teeth, bedtime stories, etc. Remind your kids as it nears time for each transition. Being consistent and predictable in your evening routine will reduce conflict and improve the quantity and quality of your whole family’s sleep.

Author’s Personal Nighttime Routine- Everyone’s sleep needs are different. I find it easier to fall asleep and obtain quality rest when I follow a routine.  With this information in hand, it was a no-brainer to customize a bedtime routine of my own. My nighttime ritual includes a few different tips that you may find helpful in creating your own nighttime process. My strategy is to utilize sensory tools to help me in my sleep prep routine.  

The first thing I do is take a shower – but wait – not just any shower, one where the water is as hot as I can take it (of course making sure not to burn myself in the process). I do this for a few reasons; 1. To relax my muscles, 2. To ensure the “Body Restore” shower bombs (yes shower bombs, not bath bombs) dissolve with ease, 3. Some experts believe hot showers actually have skincare benefits such as improving blemishes.

The second step in my sleep routine is making myself a nice cup of tea. I use 2 tea bags at night. One is always a sleepytime/camomile tea, the second is one of my two favorites: 1. Teavana Beach Bellina or 2. TAZO Passion (thank me later). 

The third is super important. I am sure to discontinue the use of my phone during tea time (at least 20 minutes prior to sleep to hold firm on my content boundaries). During this step, I journal my day away. Here is a sample journal prompt I like to use “One struggle for me today was___________, however, I was extremely grateful that__________________________.” 

The fourth and final step includes preparing my mind for sleeping. I utilize the “Sleep Sounds” playlist on Apple Music. This helps me to slow my thoughts down and tells my brain it’s time to rest.

Sleep is a key factor in both preventing and recovering from burnout. Getting your family into an evening routine and your sleep environment ready for bed will help you optimize your sleeping time and have you feeling refreshed and ready for the next day.