Sweet Sleep: Cool Tool #43

napping kittyMy partner taught me to see sleep as an integral part of wellness. When I first moved in with her, most of my lifestyle was a wellness lifestyle. Exercise, healthy foods, yoga, etc.

Yet in trying to fit the most into my days I was getting six or fewer hours of sleep a night. She’d encourage me to get to bed earlier. She would say, “Sleep is a beautiful thing.” I saw it as a necessary thing.

 A Beautiful Thing Indeed

As I changed my sleep habits I was surprised at the benefits I reaped.

  • More energy.
  • Fewer food cravings.
  • More focused, productive, and creative.
  • Less irritable.

And research not only backs up my benefits, but also shows advantages of which I wasn’t even aware.  Check out these gems.

  • Learn better.
  • Less inflammation. (And inflammation has been associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging.)
  • Better brain function.
  • Lowers risk of obesity.
  • Improved immune function.
  • Lessens your chance of depression.

Experts recommend between 7-9 hours a night for adults. I’ve heard a number of people say they need less than that. My experience from working with many people is that the optimal number of hours really varies from person to person. And the optimal amount will vary depending upon what’s going on in your life.

Your Perfect Number

My rule of thumb is to pay attention to how you feel. Try these questions on.

  • Is your brain clear or foggy?
  • What’s your reaction time?
  • Do you feel compelled to stop for a double mocha latte every morning?
  • Are you irritable?
  • Do you find yourself yawning or reaching for a sugary snack most afternoons?
  • Do you feel rested, ready for the day, when you awaken?
  • Are you catching colds and the flu?

(I’m not saying there is a direct correlation between any of these symptoms and your lack of sleep. Just consider your answers as clues in the game of figuring out the perfect number of hours for you to spend in dream land.)

My optimal number is between 6-7 hours. If your answers lead you to believe that a little more time with your head against a pillow would be a good thing, then begin to make sleep more of a priority. And continue that paying attention thing.

More Sleep

A few ideas to get you started:

  • Figure out why you’re not making sleep a priority. This piece of info alone has been a game changer for some of my clients.  
  • The 3000-year-old medicine of Ayurveda recommends being in bed by 10:00 p.m.  (If you’re not even close to that, start with baby steps. Inch your way toward 10, even if you just go to bed five minutes earlier each night.)
  • Sleep hygiene seems to improve when you have a bedtime routine. Pick a routine that helps you let go of your day, one that helps your mind slow down.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, as well as heavy foods before bed. If you’re sensitive like some of my clients and me then any caffeine, yes even the amount in green tea or chocolate, can impact your sleep.
  • Exercise, but not too close to bed. I used to attend an evening power yoga class. I was so “powered up” afterwards that sleep eluded me.

Be kind to your beautiful wholeness and get the perfect amount of sleep tonight. Would love to know what works for you.