One of the best things you can do for yourself, as far as self care goes, is get enough sleep!
Sleep is when your body repairs itself. Your body replenishes it’s immune cells during this time, repairs tissue and this is the time when protein synthesis and muscle recovery take place. Sleep is a big deal for me, probably because I’m a fairly routine person. Can you think of a time or two when you’ve had a few nights in a row strung together of poor sleep?
Getting enough sleep regulates hormones (cortisol, leptin, ghrelin), improves athletic performance, reduces stress levels, improves focus, creativity, and memory. Enough is different for everyone, but typically 7-9 hours each night is recommended.
How do you create a sleep routine?
- Limit caffeine in the afternoon. If I do have caffeine in the afternoon, I am sure to be done drinking it by 2:00pm. This time may be different for everyone, but I’ve found if I do have caffeine after 2:00 I have trouble falling asleep at night. This could also vary depending on what time you go to bed.
- Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Staying with a schedule helps your body get into a sleep rhythm. It’s called a circadian rhythm. Your body will start to feel tired at the same time each night and start waking up at the same time each morning. In many ways we are creatures of habit and this habit helps ensure we get enough sleep each night.
- Have a wind down routine. Do something quiet at night: read a book to yourself or kids, take a bath, drink hot tea, stretch, yoga, meditate. Try not to use your phone or computer as your wind down routine as the blue light from it’s screen can decrease melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone which signals your body that it’s time to to go sleep. It also acts as an antioxidant in your body and has been shown to help prevent and manage Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Make sure your room is dark, quiet and the temperature is right for you. Some people find an eye mask or sound machine are helpful. They even have sound machine apps for your phone you can download. These could be helpful when traveling as well.
You may find it helpful to set an alarm at night! This alarm is your signal that it’s time to start your wind down routine and get ready for bed. Prioritize your list of things to do and when the alarm goes off the list is done-zo.