How many of us aim for that sweet, scientific suggestion of 8 hours of rest per night? How many of us actually reach that goal of 8 hours? Is that really all we need?
Depending on your age, it looks like around eight hours of rest per night is the “goldilocks” amount for rest; just enough. Some of us crash and slip into a deep sleep for up to 10 hours a night, some of us struggle to gather pockets of naps throughout a night and total at about 5. What is it about rest that connects to our overall wellness, happiness, and health?
While doctors aren’t 100% sure of the purpose of sleep (let alone those weird, wild dreams we seem to have), most can agree that it’s a sort of “reset” for our bodies. We shut off our consciousness for the dark hours, our bodies function on the bare basics, and we lay motionless for hours. During these hours, our body sort of rejuvenates, as long as it’s the “right” kind of sleep. We go through an overnight fast where our bodies aren’t working so hard on digestion, but on repair and restoration. Our heart rates drop, breathing comes to a steady wave, and hopefully once we’re awake, we’ll feel ready to conquer the day.
What are the foundations on getting the best nights sleep we deserve? We start hours before actually hitting the hay. When you eat late meals, it can cause heartburn or even slight energy spikes that can cause us to be restless. When your body is digesting, it’s not in peak condition to fall asleep. We also need to look at what we’re drinking. Most of us have a soda or two a day, but are we drinking it close to when we should be getting ready for bed? Soda normally contains caffeine and sugars, both of which cause energy spikes that can leave us tossing and turning hours after we’ve laid down for bed. If you drink soda, coffee or caffeinated teas, try to cut back at least 4-5 hours before you intend on going to bed.
What else can we do to make sure we get a good nights rest? Most of us are connected to our phones, tablets or laptops for most of the day. The constant flow of these blue light sources triggers parts of our brain that is kept awake by the same natural stimuli – the daytime sky. Blue lights tell our brains that it’s daylight, time to get up and at ‘em, not to get prepared for a restful sleep. Cutting back on our consumption of electronics in the evening hours is a great way to not only give our brains and eyes a rest, but to settle down for the evening as well.
Along with these basics, we can help ourselves when we find it a struggle to get good sleep. If you live near a busy road, in a large city, or maybe even work nights so your days are left for you to rest, you may have bright lights keeping you up all night. Invest in some thick, dark black-out curtains to hang for most of your rooms. Drape these across your windows when you need them, and they will block out most, if not all, of the light pollution, making it easier on your eyes and easier for you to fall fast asleep. If you dig the taste of teas, try a calming cup or two of a wide variety of flavors! Chamomile is a fantastic, great tasting tea that is known world wide for bringing calm, peace and tranquility, perfect for dozing off. Valerian root, while it may have a funky taste and smell (some liken it to stinky feet!), it can hit you like a small dose of a tranquilizer and will help you fall asleep fast.
Something I’ve recently invested in myself are essential oils! Smells trigger parts of our brains that help guide us through our world, whether it be the smell of delicious food, the smell of a loved one’s perfume, or a field of flowers. The top go-to choice of most people with peace and sleep in mind is lavender! A fragrant, calming scent that you can use to help fight the insomnia away. You can put a few drops into a diffuser, or even on a cotton ball and place the ball into your pillow before bed. The smell will calm and relax you until the next thing you know, you’re waking up bright and early, relaxed and ready to take on your day!
We all know a good nights rest is what we need to feel our best, and also helps us along our wellness journey. Sleep repairs and refreshes, and helps gives us the energy and clarity we need to become the best “us” we can be! If you have more tips, feel free to leave them in the comment section below!
I can’t wait to see you all here next week, where we’ll touch on our connection to community and chat about fitness and how this can help deepen our sense of wellbeing!