Today’s somewhat amusing, but totally understandable, popular New Year’s resolution is: Have better sleep. I dunno whether the people making this resolution are wanting more sleep, more restful sleep, fewer nightmares, less being woken up by screaming children, or fewer hangovers, but I think we can all relate to wanting better sleep in one way or another.
So, we kicked off this particular resolution by following it and not getting up to write when we woke up, decided we were still sleepy, and recommitted to bed. It’s perfect sleeping weather in Colorado. Supposed to snow so nice and overcast and QUIET, and may I just say thank you for quiet Sunday mornings. No neighbors slamming car doors, no neighbor kids outside yelling, just me and the kitties alone in a dark house is a good time to sleep off whatever cold bug I’ve picked up that’s trying to turn into bronchitis. But I digress.
Better sleep. To sleep better, you’re going to want to do several things. Make your bedroom a comfortable sleep haven, make a before bed ritual, and make a sleep schedule, and commit to sticking with it every day. Even on weekends, even on holidays… it can’t always be done, but when it can be done, it should be done, and “I don’t wanna” is not a can’t. So pick yourself a bedtime and hold yourself to it. When picking your bedtime also consider what time you need to be awake, and give yourself some time to transition in the morning rather than having to rush through your morning routine to get to work or get everyone to school on time. Your body and your brain both deserve to be treated more gently than that.
I recommend starting the day with some AM Yoga
which will add half an hour to your morning routine (plus any time spent getting into yoga clothes and pulling back hair and the like, which should be minimal), but is totally worth it to let your mind and body get used to the idea of being awake and being in use and feels amazing when your muscles are nice and relaxed from sleep. After that you can get everyone fed including yourself a nice healthy breakfast, then hop in the shower and go about your grooming and dressing routine and go about your day.
Don’t skip lunch. You don’t have to go overboard, but do make sure to eat something healthy. It keeps your metabolism going, but also makes sure you aren’t starved come dinner time and will help you minimize your calorie intake overall through portion control. Did you know lunch used to be the big meal of the day where everyone sat around the table and ate a big healthy meal together before resuming their daily work? I personally think that schedule is healthier for us, but modern life has made it far less convenient, so I won’t ask you to make that happen, it’s hard to have your big family meal when the family isn’t home. But still, make sure you eat something, and not something fast food.
Think about what you’re doing with your body throughout the day, particularly as you get closer to transitioning to sleep, but all day. Don’t take naps during the day. If you’re hungry or overly full at bedtime, you’re going to be uncomfortable and it’s going to keep you laying there staring at the ceiling, so make dinner time regular too, and don’t over indulge. Keep light snacks (like fruit or yogurt or peanut butter and whole grain bread or celery to put it on) around if you need a little something to not be hungry before bed. Give yourself a cut off time for stimulants too. Nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and will make quality sleep unobtainable. If you like an after dinner coffee or tea, that’s totally okay, but reach for decaf coffee and herbal tea. Save caffeine for the morning, or for lunch if you really have to have that soda. If you are a dedicated soda drinker (you shouldn’t be, that’s bad for every part of you with no health benefits, but if you are) start switching to those caffeine free sodas with dinner. If you’re a tea drinker, hold off on dumping sugar in it especially in the evening hours. Try some citrus slices if plain tea is too bland for you. Also watch your alcohol intake (though we HOPE you’re still with us on the alcohol free January challenge), alcohol can make you feel nice and relaxed and sleepy and then wake you up at night when the effects start wearing off, or give you an awful morning when the after effects have kicked in.
Know your bladder habits. We still want you drinking all that water we talked about, but you don’t want to look at the clock and realize you haven’t met your goal and try to cram it all in right before bed. Make it happen throughout the day so you don’t find yourself having to wake up for bathroom trips in the middle of the night. Interrupted sleep is rarely restful sleep.
When it’s time to start transitioning to sleep, I recommend making your bedtime ritual no less than an hour, but I’d give it at least an hour and a half because, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, I think you should be fitting in half an hour of PM Yoga.
We seem to have one of two lifestyles and not a lot in between, but our body either works hard all day and deserves some love and stretching and unstressing before getting into bed, or we’re sedentary all day at a desk job and then the couch and our body still deserves some love and to know that we care about it and still want to be able to use it even if we don’t as often as we’d like to and sitting all day is going to give you stiff tense muscles that need their own stretching and relaxing. It is easier to fall asleep with relaxed muscles and a quiet mind. Yoga will help accomplish that.
After yoga, take a nice hot relaxing bath or shower. Don’t hesitate to give yourself the indulgence of some aromatherapy when you bathe. We underutilize our sense of smell, and it has a huge impact on our mood and what our brain is doing in reaction to it. For bedtime showers or baths look for shower gels or bath salts or bubble baths that smell like lavender, vanilla, chamomile, jasmine, sage, ylang ylang, or bergamot. Men, don’t worry about any of those scents being too feminine, one because it’s 2017 and who cares anymore, but even more because if anyone does care don’t forget that you’ll be showering again in the morning and putting on all your manly products so no one will know what you smell like while you sleep except you and your partner, who has already deemed your level of manliness acceptable. There are some REALLY awesome bath products at Bath and Body Works that combine lavender and vanilla that I highly recommend spoiling yourself with at least once if you can’t afford to make it a regular habit. If you’ve ever shopped at Bath and Bodyworks you know it’s impossible to ever find the same scent two years in a row, but I first got some of these bath salts as a gift from my mother, no joke, when I was 14 years old. Which means they’re successful enough they’ve been making them for 20 years. You deserve to try that. If you are sensitive to bath products (they can encourage yeast infections and UTIs in some people), you can also purchase essential oils in the scent of your choice and gently rub a few drops onto acupressure points on your body after your nightly bathing, or you can dilute them with water and use a diffuser to scent the entire room and not just yourself.
After bathing then do your before bed activity of choice. Rub on lotion, exchange massages with your partner, write in that journal you should still be keeping daily, or get cozy with a good book (not SO good that you won’t be able to put it down and sleep.) If you’re someone who routinely has trouble sleeping try some chamomile or sleepy time tea while you read or relax in the bath. If tea isn’t your thing try some melatonin. It’s a natural substance already in your body and won’t hurt you. If you sleep better cold, turn down the thermostat. If you have a hard time quieting your brain run a fan or a white noise machine. Don’t have extra unneeded light, buy new shades or curtains if you need to. Your brain needs dark sometimes, so don’t sleep with the TV on. Really if you want to have good sleep you won’t even have a TV in your bedroom. Your bedroom should be used for sleeping, your sex life, and any pre-bed activities, and that’s it.
Do remember to do that journaling. Remember back at the beginning of the post when we mentioned avoiding nightmares? Dreams are your brain’s way of trying to work things out. Help it to not do it in freak out mode by taking some of the load off while you’re awake. It’s one of the reasons we teach children to say prayers before they go to sleep. Or why some cultures teach children to use Worry Dolls to tell all of their fears and worries and sadness to and then put under their pillow for the dolls to take away their worries in the night. We need to let things out or we do lay there ruminating and let our brain turn around in circles all night.
Once you hit your bedtime, and this may be important the first few nights, but if you lay there tossing and turning and ruminating more than 15 minutes, get up. Go to another room and do something quiet until you feel drowsy again. Then make another go at it. Don’t let bed become the place you quietly agonize over everything wrong. Get up as many times as you need to, eventually one time will be the right one and the more you follow the routine the easier it will get and the less you’ll have to get up and the better it will work. If you’re dealing with another issue like restless leg syndrome symptoms, then go see your doctor about that, but for the mean time my friends who have been diagnosed with it (I was too but declined treatment, cause meh, it doesn’t bother me often so I forget how much it sucks when it does) have suggested to get up and go drink a big glass of water, and to put a bar of soap under your fitted sheet. I have NO idea where anyone got that idea or why it works, but have verified it with multiple sources. Still go get yourself checked out though.
Don’t let your kids sleep with you, put them in their own beds. You deserve sleep, they deserve sleep, you’re a parent, they’re a child, don’t blur lines. Set expectations and boundaries and stick to them.
Pets can sleep with you though. That’s allowed. You’re heartless if it’s not.
As for today’s list of tasks:
Do some laundry. You may have a mountain of laundry stashed somewhere, like everyone I seem to know, but commit to doing a load of lights, a load of darks, and a load of delicates today. Washed and dried and put away neatly. If that means a trip to the laundromat, so be it, you’ll have the bonus of getting use multiple machines at once 😉
Clean your Master Bathroom. Same routine you should be getting used to. Start at the top and work your way down. Dust your light fixtures, get the finger smudges and dirt off the switchplate, windex your mirrors, clean out your medicine cabinets and dispose of anything expired or empty. Get your vanity or counter tops cleaned off and de-cluttered and organized. Clean out your cabinets and any closets you might have. Dust any shelves, wash any towels. Scrub out your sink(s), clean out your drains, scrub the toilet both inside and out. Scrub down the shower and/or bath, clean any windows and their fixtures. Clean out that drain too. Polish up all your faucets and other metal fixtures. Sweep and mop the floor and you’re done!
Use the Rowing Machine at that gym I’m sure you’ve joined by now. Get in at least a good 15 minutes on it at a steady, brisk pace.
Adjust the resistance as necessary to be a little challenge but not be killing yourself to where you can’t make it the whole 15 minutes. If you still haven’t gotten into a gym, then do some cardio at home. The rowing machine works both your legs and your arms, so find something that will do both, even if it’s jogging in place while making rowing motions with your arms while holding a couple of tin cans or something for weight.
Give yourself a Body Acne treatment. No one wants to think about it but we all get blemishes on our backs, our buts, our inner joints, all sorts of unfun places. They’re usually indicative of stress or an external irritant, but they can just pop up for no good reason to make your life a little more obnoxious. Back acne is so common it’s gotten it’s own trendy little name… Bacne. There are a million ways to treat it, drinking an appropriate amount of water is one of them, but since we all hate them, let’s pay some special attention to them today. Even if you don’t have anything currently it’s good preventatively as well. So we’re gonna take an Epsom Salt bath.
Super easy. All you need to do is poor 1-2 cups of Epsom Salts into the bathtub while you fill it with warm water (1 for small baths, 2 for large, 1.5 for normal), then soak in the bath 15-30 minutes, or more, it won’t hurt you. Don’t use anything else in the bath with you, no bubble bath or shower gels or anything, just use and the salt, though you may use a loofah if you want to for blood circulation and opening up your pores to maximize the benefits. After the bath drink at least 8 oz. of water, and that’s all there is too it 🙂
Since we’re already into the afternoon I’ll see y’all on Facebook shortly for the Question of the Day 🙂
A word about music: We include songs for a reason. Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much. Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason. If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
MP3: Who Needs Sleep?