Sleep Tips for Your
Confident Healthy Life

Cutting your sleep hours too short? Having trouble falling or staying asleep? You sure can't live a confident life if you're not energetic. Try these tips to help ensure a more peaceful and productive rest time.

Keep the room dark. Some studies show that our quality of sleep can be disrupted if the room is too light. No use fighting evolution; we are not nocturnal creatures in general (although some of your biorhythms may tell you otherwise — you night owls know who I'm talking to). Regardless of when you rest, make the room dark.

Create a pre-sleep ritual. By transitioning from your active hours to rest time, your body and mind will begin to prepare for sleep as you go through your usual wind-down activities. Read something calming before bed, dim the lights down a bit, turn off any noises in the house, or stretch. It is also a great time to write in your food diary or your exercise journal. Your ritual may be anywhere from 10-30 minutes, with longer being better as it gives your body and mind more time to downshift.

Turn off the TV, radio, and other electronics. Electronics are known to stimulate us and to throw off our body's natural patterns when it's time to snooze. They may SEEM relaxing but in fact can hinder our falling or staying asleep. Give yourself some non-electronic and quiet time during your wind-down ritual.

Keep the bedroom as a bedroom. Don't watch TV, talk on the phone, use the computer, or text message while in bed. It can mess with your body's rest patterns. Ideally, keep your bedroom for sex and slumber. And if you must have electronics in the room, make sure to shut them off as part of your pre-sleep ritual to let you begin to downshift.

Reduce your caffeine intake and/or consume it earlier in the day. Some people are much more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you're having trouble with sleep, it's worth experimenting to see if this makes a difference for you. And remember, even decaf tea and coffee still has a little bit of caffeine in it, so if you are super sensitive, try herbal tea instead.

Relax your mind. A few minutes of meditation can be a wonderful way to end the day. Or try some personal affirmations to set positive thoughts in your mind before bed. Find what works for you that sets your mind at ease and helps you relax. Deep breathing for a few minutes with your eyes closed can be extremely effective at preparing you for rest.

Declutter your bedroom. Make your bedroom a restful, peaceful room that you look forward going into each night. Clutter is a psychological (sometimes physical!) stress that can subconsciously make us feel overwhelmed and out of control. It can also make us feel like there is not enough space in our life. Clear some space in the room so your eyes and mind have an opportunity to rest.

Make sure there is no mirror facing you in bed. This is a feng shui thing and some people are more sensitive to it than others. If you can see yourself in a mirror when you are in bed, it may make you feel slightly uneasy (as the energy is being reflected back at you). If this is the case for you, try moving the mirror or throwing a towel over it when it's time for bed.

Smell something relaxing. Some people swear by aromatherapy as a means of relaxation. Lavender is especially popular as a rest aid. Bergamot, chamomile, jasmine, and sandalwood are also used. You can often find essential oils at health food stores or local spa stores. Or enjoy a soothing cup of herb tea that contains one or more of these scents in it.

Get warm. Take a warm bath, shower, or a hot tub dip before bed. The warmth is relaxing in and of itself, but the real benefit begins once we are out of the water. We begin to get tired as our body temperature starts to drop, so when we climb into bed all warm and snuggly, we begin to cool off and sleepiness sets in.

Don't exercise too close to bedtime. Exercise often revs us up and can make it hard to fall asleep after. Try to exercise no closer to bed than two hours. Give yourself adequate time to really wind down physically and mentally.

Don't eat too close to bedtime. Your body wants to focus on repair and renewal during sleep, not on digestion. (Your digestive system needs rest, too.) Try to eat no closer than 2-3 hours before bed. If you are truly ravenous, have a very small quantity of a carbohydrate, like a piece of toast, a small piece of fruit, or a tiny bowl of cereal. Going to bed lightly hungry can actually help you sleep better and cuts down on your late night eating when some people consume way too many calories (break the dessert habit!). Eating and then going right to bed is a recipe for weight gain (sumo wrestlers do this to keep the fat on).

Avoid bright colors in your bedroom. Soothing colors in your room may help you relax more. You may love the color red, but it doesn't exactly make you want to doze off. Blues, greens, and other soft colors can encourage you to drift off (I love a light periwinkle myself). Children may be especially sensitive to color, so take note if your kids are having trouble napping in their bright yellow or red rooms. Dim the lights to reduce the effect of bright colors.

Be protective of your rest time. After dealing with health issues for years, I am painfully aware of how critical it is for me to recharge my batteries. So I am overprotective of my downtime and make sure to get good rest every night. Plus I just feel SO good when I stay refreshed and renewed — it's a major quality of life thing. Why settle for less?

Getting enough rest is obviously essential to our well-being and yet we are a frighteningly sleep-deprived nation. Running on "fumes" does not work and costs us our health and enjoyment. Without adequate and high quality sleep, everything else begins to fall apart. Make your downtime SACRED and a foundation for your good health and confident life.

Get your priorities straight. If you're trying to do to much or have too much to do, figure out what else can go, because you must get your sleep!

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