It’s Time To Sleep!

It’s Time To Sleep!

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One gift that is free and oh-so rejuvenating is the gift of sleep; you can gift this to yourself starting today!  Sleep impacts our overall health in many ways beyond just feeling refreshed an energetic for our day.  It decreases stress levels, improves memory, and decreases inflammation which is associated with heart attack, stroke, diabetes and arthritis.  Getting good rest will also help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight; sleep and appetite are controlled in the same part of the brain and the more sleep deprived we are, the greater our appetite.
There is one simple rule to follow when preparing you for good sleep:  treat yourself like a child. That’s right; I’m asking you to create a routine just like you would for a small child…

Structure: 

Have a set bedtime every night so things stay consistent.  The average adult needs 7-8 hours of consistent shut-eye in order to be most productive, and feel well.  This means heading to bed around 10:00 p.m. every night and waking around 6:00 a.m.

Got kids? 
Children should be provided the following according to the National Sleep Foundation:
• Newborns:  Sleep in irregular patterns anywhere from 10.5 – 18 hours per day.
• 3 – 11 months:  9-12 hours every night plus 2-4 naps during the day
• 1 – 3 years:  12-14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period (including naps)
• 3 – 5 years:  11-13 hours every night
• 5-12 years:  10-11 hours every night

Avoid Caffeine: 

Just as we wouldn’t feed our children caffeine, especially right before bed, we should honor the same for ourselves.  If you do choose to drink caffeine in the day it is best to stop all caffeine after 2:00 p.m.  This will give your body enough time to process the caffeine before you head off to sleep.

Quiet Time:

Most often, children have a bed time routine which includes all the proper cleaning of food from the face, teeth brushing, a trip to the potty and a sweet bed-time story.   You’ll notice there was no “checking email, texting, or working on the computer” included in the routine.  Keep your routine as clean as a child’s routine.  Shut down all technology and phones at least one hour before heading to bed in order to achieve optimal sleep.  Take an hour of time before bed to relax, listen to classical music, read, journal about your day, or spend time with your significant other.

Eat Well:

We all need three balanced meals a day, and maybe a snack here and there.  I can’t imagine sitting my children down to a big meal at 8:00 at night and then sending them right off to bed.  As adults, especially if we’re entertaining or out with clients, we tend to eat large meals loaded with excess fat and salt late at night.  The purpose of sleep is to allow the body to repair and replenish.  Your blood is purified, your liver detoxifies the body, and all your organs are resetting for another day.  The body needs to be able to focus all of its energy on this, so when you have food in the gut that needs to be digested, the body will give up some of its “repair” energy for the needed digestion.

Make breakfast and lunch your biggest meals and go light for dinner.  As a rule, all meals should be consumed 3 hours before bed.  If you need a light snack before bed, eat an hour before you go to sleep.  Some foods known to aid in sleep are:  oats, bananas, tart cherries or tart cherry juice, and almonds.

Eat, Play, Sleep:

If you’ve read a book about raising a child it may have included the theory of “eat, play, sleep”.  This routine ensures that your child has structure in the day and gets plenty of activity before nap and bedtime.  We need the same in our lives.  Activity is important for sleep, as well as play!  Be sure to get up from the desk, take a walk and get fresh air.  Accomplish 30 minutes of exercise every day and schedule “play time” into your calendar.   Think about the activities you loved to do as a child and start incorporating some of that same activity in your life today, there’s no age limit for playing in the sandbox!

Remember that we have a choice in every matter, including sleep.  Make small changes so you eventually achieve your sleep goals.  If you head to bed at midnight every night, you surely won’t be able to switch to a 10:00 bedtime right away.  Start small and build up.  Go to bed at 11:45 p.m. for a few nights, then move it up to 11:30 p.m. and continue moving up by 15-min increments until you reach your 10:00 p.m. goal.  The pay-off is huge; you’ll feel better physically and emotionally and you’re most productive and happy when you’re adequately refreshed and energized.

Happy snoozing!!

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