Hello again! It’s Cody. When I am working with clients, there are typically four main things we are continually checking in on and navigating through. Nutrition, movement, stress, and sleep. I often think clients are surprised when one of my first questions for them involves sleep. The conversation usually goes something like this:
“What does sleep look like for you?”
Sometimes there is a pause and the client is like, “What did you say? Sleep?”
And I’m like, “Yes yes, sleep. Like what time do you go to bed at night?”
I’ve learned there seems to be two kinds of people. Those who prioritize sleep and those who do not. My husband and I have ongoing conversations about this (JB looooves his sleep and always pushes for an early bedtime whereas I’m like, “just one more episode!”). So all you non bedtime people – I hear you. I have not always made sleep an importance in my life. I have always been a morning person and have been known to think I can survive on less sleep than most people. Whether this is true or not (probably not..) I learned my lesson. Sleep is just as important – and arguably more important – than nourishing your body with energy and nutrients, moving in a way that feels right, and managing your stress. Really because if you’re not sleeping that effects your appetite, movement typically isn’t helpful when your body is under stress from crappy sleep and managing stress and your mood is really really hard when you’re sleep deprived.
When people think of the term “healthy”- I don’t think they always consider sleep a crucial pillar. When in fact getting proper sleep can help defend your body against disease, can help regulate your hormones, and it certainly effects your brain. I find it interesting that proper sleep ensures your mind is sharp and able to make good decisions.
Has anyone here ever felt like they were so tired they couldn’t think? Or after a few days of late nights you find yourself a little bit less “in control” of your choices. This can definitely trickle into your relationship with food and exercise. For example, in the early days of motherhood- I found myself functioning on such little sleep I really did feel like a walking zombie. As a result, I felt far from mindful in all aspects of my life. It felt like such effort to even think, so being mindful or “in tune” with my body was out the window.
Yes, there are seasons like this and your body can handle it and it’s okay if you are on Team No Sleep right now. Trust me, I’ve been there. You will survive and it is okay if you are not “in tune” with your body at the moment. Hang in there!
However, if you have the choice to prioritize sleep, it can be a really amazing thing. Do you have trouble falling asleep or getting up in the morning? Now that I have a baby, I must prioritize my sleep. There is no more sleeping in on the weekends. No more “making up from the night before.” –> which I learned, doesn’t exist. You can’t make up for sleep debt down the road. Those days are over and it was necessary I adjust my habits. I also had to admit that I am not a super woman and I do, in fact, need adequate sleep. Perhaps you can relate and you’ve been wanting to improve your sleep habits but don’t know where to start? If that’s the case, maybe what I have learned will help you, too! These are just a few thoughts but really, I’d love to hear what helps you nourish your body with sleep. Any new ideas?
- Start your bedtime routine 30 minutes before you actually want to get in bed and try to get into bed around the same time each night. If you are like me, you inevitably get distracted or remember the tasks you have to do before you get in bed. For me it’s things like switching my laundry to the dryer so it doesn’t stay wet all night or making coffee so I’m happier in the morning. (caffeine = better mood) Or, maybe you forgot you have to put sheets on your bed. I’ve done all these things, so maybe my mistakes help you be successful with an early bedtime!
- Try to go to bed with a good attitude. It helps to not dread the morning. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, try writing that all down in a journal before you hop into bed. The HeadSpace app also has quick 3-5 minute meditations to help you wind down and calm yourself. Or listen to some Beyoncé before you go to bed – whatever works! And when you get in bed earlier with enough time to get 8 hours of sleep, that means you get to wake up more on your own terms – not after 6 hours when you’re alarm is blaring.
- Don’t bring electronics into bed and do anything except read/sleep/sex in bed – your bed then starts to associate the bed with work vs rest and gets confused.
- Drink water all throughout the day, don’t be like me and realize you are thirsty 10 minutes before bed, making you chug your whole water bottle then later resulting in potty break wake ups all throughout the night. No fun when you are trying to get a full night of uninterrupted sleep.
- If you are hungry, get a snack. Don’t just ignore it because you are already in bed. Ignoring hunger only causes your blood sugar to be up and down and stresses your body. Same rule applies if you wake up in the middle of the night feeling hungry. Go to the kitchen and get a snack (and maybe that means you need to eat more during the day and/or have a bedtime snack – or a heartier snack – if you’re waking up hungry) Even if it means you’ll have to brush your teeth again. It’s worth it. Your body needs food when it says it’s hungry.
- Try stretching before you get in bed if you have been sitting a lot that day. Definitely doesn’t have to be intense or for a long period of time. I just find if I reach down and touch my toes before I hop in bed, my legs feel less restless. Can anyone relate?
- Create a relaxing bed time routine. I seem to fall asleep easier if I have just gotten out of a hot shower or bath.
- Essential oils. I recently ran out of my lavender essential oil but I looooved diffusing it in my room for good sleep!
- We love a good sound machine in our house. Our Dohm sound machine is in the baby’s room but we use this iPhone app in our bedroom and it works great.
When you are establishing a new routine, give yourself some grace, compassion and patience. It takes time and at first you have to take it one step at a time. Maybe start by making coffee the night before so it’s warm and ready to go as your alarm goes off in the morning. Start by setting a reminder on your phone to go make the coffee as you head to bed. Soon enough, you won’t need the reminder and it will become a nightly ritual. One step at a time you can develop habits that consistently help you prioritize your sleep. What are your personal sleep goals? We would love to hear!