Making Sleep Your Top 2021 Self-Care Goal
Posted on January 04 2021
How are you sleeping lately?
Has 2020 done a number on your sleep habits? If so, you are not alone. Even before the pandemic, one in three Canadians were not getting enough sleep, and, in the 18-64 age group, as many as 55% reported difficulty falling or staying asleep. [i] I’m sure that has only worsened during 2020. Poor sleep is associated with a multitude of negative health effects including obesity, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease and reduced overall well-being.[ii] And we know how life feels on no sleep – pretty awful. For me, sleep is the true foundation of self-care. Every other good habit (or niyama) layers on and; makes life better, but without good sleep, it’s not enough to let me live my best life.
My own sleep journey has not been an easy one; I’ve personally struggled with sleep since my early teens. For me, it has always been the inability to calm the racing thoughts that plague me both when trying to fall asleep, and to fall back to sleep when I wake up during the night, usually to visit the loo. It’s worse when I’m very stressed or anxious, but even when I’m not, it still happens – my brain is just wired that way. I spent decades trying to figure out the best solutions for me, and I am happy to say that for the last 3 years, I’ve been sleeping better than I have in my whole life.
I’m sharing below the 5 crucial things that have moved the needle for me, in hopes that they help you find your way to enough good quality sleep in 2021!
Good Sleep Hygiene is the number one thing you have to implement and stick to.
- Regular bed and wake times. I can’t stress this enough. Every time you stay up super late or sleep in for hours, it’s like you have switched time zones. It upsets your circadian rhythm, essentially giving you jet lag. Try not to vary your sleep and wake times more than 30 minutes until you are consistently sleeping well.
- No screens an hour before bed. That means computer work, emails, TV, social media scrolling, texting. And charge your phone outside of your bedroom. If you use it for your alarm, invest in a real clock.
- Establish a wind-down routine that you enjoy. This might be a bath, meditation, journaling, reading an actual book, listening to a podcast (resisting the screen!). Make it something you enjoy and end each day with it to reinforce the signal to your brain that you are preparing for sleep.
Committing to good sleep hygiene can be challenging to start, but it has the most impact and is so worth it. And once your sleep patterns are well established you can make exceptions now and then without losing sleep.
Change Your Attitude When You Can’t Sleep
Along your journey to better sleep, and even when you are sleeping well, there will be nights when insomnia strikes again. For me, there is one night most months during my cycle that insomnia hits. When it happens, it’s important that you don’t just lay there “trying to sleep” and spiral into counting the hours left, increasing anxiety about the next day and just plain stressing over it. One bad night is not the end of the world. You will make it through the next day, and your body will compensate with deeper sleep the next night. So don’t just lay there, use a small reading light to read a non-fiction book, or get out of bed and do something quiet and non-stimulating until you feel sleepy. You may even have to repeat this a few times. But don’t lay there stressing.
No Caffeine After Noon.
Do not reach for that afternoon coffee or matcha! I know, most stuff you read advises no caffeine after 2pm – which is fine for good sleepers. But if you already struggle with sleep, any caffeine in the afternoon can be troublesome at bedtime. And many of us carry a gene that makes us metabolize caffeine more slowly, meaning your morning espresso may still be with you in the afternoon. If you like that warm beverage break in the afternoon, try a turmeric latte (without espresso) or an herbal tea.
Consider a Natural Sleep Aid
Sleep Like Buddha contains 3 trusted and proven natural ingredients to reduce stress-related sleep issues and help you fall asleep easier and stay asleep, without melatonin or the morning grogginess that some sleep aids can cause. Over the past 25 years, I have tried almost every natural product or ingredient for sleep. This formula contains the 3 ingredients that, in combination, have been most consistently effective for me over the years. It is specifically formulated for stress-related sleep issues and “busy brain”. You can take up to two capsules per night, and you can take it at bedtime and/or if you night wake and struggle with falling back to sleep. As always, chat with your health care practitioner to ensure there are no contraindication with any medication you might be on, and if you do try it, allow a week of regular use for full effects.
I know, so much easier said than done! Especially now, with so much uncertainty and loss as part of our every day lives. 2020 literally redefined chronic stress; we are all living under a thick blanket of it, all of the time. But while we can’t control the stress life throws our way, we can help our bodies to adapt and thrive.
- Make sure you get outside, even for 10 minutes daily, especially if you work from home. And get your exercise in – whatever moves you – 30 minutes daily should be your goal.
- Learn a new skill, whether it’s cooking something new, knitting, or a language, keep your brain active in a positive way.
- Practice gratitude. Anxiety has a much harder time co-existing with gratitude. If you have kids, try the dinner time gratitude list: have everyone share the 3 things they are grateful for today.
- Consider Adaptogens. Adaptogens are plants that help the body adapt to stress. Daytime Zen Stress Support contains 3 Ayurvedic adaptogens plus an amino acid that helps calm brain waves. Together these 4 natural ingredients work together to reduce feelings of stress and overwhelm, increase focus and memory, and reduce stress-related fatigue, so your energy levels are much more even throughout the day.
It is my sincere hope that these recommendations help you get the good quality sleep you need to make 2021 a year in which you personally thrive. Wishing you health, happiness and sweet dreams!
Love & Peace,
[i] Statistics Canada Health Reports. Jean-Philippe Chaput, Suzy L. Wong, Isabelle Michaud. Duration and quality of sleep among Canadians aged 18-79. Statistics Canada, 2017
[ii] Institute of Medicine Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research. Colten HR, Altevogt BM, eds. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2006.
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