We've all been there. We're tired, exhausted even, but we can't sleep. It.is.miserable. You toss and turn in bed. You count sheep. But nothing seems to help. Poor sleep isn't just frustrating, it can affect many aspects of your life. So let's talk about WHY it's so important to get good sleep, and HOW you can achieve it.
Benefits of Good Sleep
We all know we feel better when we get a good night's rest, but what are the other benefits?
According to health.gov* there are plenty of benefits. They list them as:
- Get sick less often.
- Stay at a healthy weight. (We're all looking for help for our weight goals, right?!)
- Lower your risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease.
- Reduce stress and improve your mood. (Two biggies!)
- Think more clearly and do better in school and at work. (Less brain fog = a very good thing.)
- Get along better with people. (Friends and family will thank you...)
- Make good decisions and avoid injuries - for example, drowsy drivers cause thousands of car accidents every year.
So what are some ways to improve our sleep? No doubt a routine is key for a good night's sleep. So what are some things you should be including in your nighttime routine?
1. Exercise - Try to be active sometime during the day. Getting your heart rate up is healthy for your body, and will aid in better sleep. The trick is not to do it right before bed. Make sure you get your exercise in 3-4 hours before bedtime. Otherwise, you may find yourself all hyped up rather than ready for bed.
2. Bedtime - First off, get a sleep schedule. Yes, this is for more than just babies. Our body's like routine. Have you ever had a job that required you to wake up early, then even after you no longer worked there you still woke up at the same time? That is because our bodies are creatures of habit. So find a bedtime that works for you, and stick with it as much as possible.
3. Amount of Sleep - Just as a routine bedtime is important, so is a routine amount of sleep. Again, when your body knows what to expect for going to sleep and waking up, it will start to do it naturally.
4. Routine - Not only is a sleep schedule routine important for good sleep, but so is a bedtime routine. Think of something you can do 30 minutes before bed to start winding down. This will signal to your brain what is coming and help prepare it. Maybe it's a bath, some light stretching, some meditation, whatever will help you settle down.
5. Limit Stimuli - Phones, TVs, family, friends, computers. These all tend to make us more alert and awake. So at least 30 minutes before you hit the hay, lay off these things. Fill those last moments with quiet, tranquil activities like we discussed in number 4.
6. Your Bed is for Sleep - And of course intimacy. But it is not for eating, watching tv, or scrolling through social media. Train your brain that when you are in bed, you are sleeping. If you spend too much time in bed doing other things it confuses your brain.
7. Nighttime Wakefulness - Maybe you fell asleep without any problem, but you find yourself awake in the middle of the night. What do you do then? Do not spend more than 20-30 minutes awake in bed. If you are awake after that much time, get up and do something relaxing in another location. This goes back to training your brain that your bed is for sleep. Read on the couch, do some meditation, but AVOID screens! The light from our screens wakes us up, so that will not help.
Essential Oils and Sleep
As a certified aromatherapist, I know essential oils can benefit the sleep bettprocess. My sleep oil is Arborvitae. If I need an amazing night of sleep, I diffuse Arborvitae in my bedroom. Sometimes I diffuse it by itself, sometimes I add a little Serenity or Frankincense. You can make diffusing essential oils something you do as part of your bedtime routine. Starting up the diffuser can be another signal to your body that it is time to settle down.
Now just because Arborvitae works for me, it doesn't mean it will work for everyone. But that is the great thing about essential oils. There are SO MANY that can aid in sleep. It may take a few tries, but you should be able to find YOUR sleep oil. Here are a few suggestions:
Some of these can be used internally (added to tea or in a veggie capsule) to aid with sleep. Others can be diffused or appliled to the soles of your feet, wrists, or palms. Always check the bottle to see what ways are safe to use each oil.
What do you do to help get better sleep? Have you found tricks that work for you?
I promise you will be a happier, healthier mamma if you can get a good night's rest. You deserve it!