My name is Amanda and I blog over at
Diary of a Semi-Health Nut!
I am a dietetics student trying to live a semi-healthy life by balancing healthy food, fitness and a sweet tooth. I’m so excited to be guest-posting for Janetha, a fellow Blend Retreat attendee. Actually, she helped coordinate the retreat, which I am so grateful for! She is super friendly and kicked butt in all of our bootcamps. (Yep, I watch/judge others when I workout…don’t we all??)
Today’s topic is sleep.
You might be thinking, “Sleep? What’s that?” Sleep is essential, but it is often the thing we forgo most when our schedules get busy. I have not always been the greatest at making time for sleep and it definitely took its toll. After having a major breakdown that I found out was mostly sleep-related, I made it a priority to figure out how to get the best and most sleep possible each night.
There are many benefits to getting a good night’s rest.
One of the biggest improvements I see in myself is that my mood is significantly more positive when I am well rested. Other slightly obvious benefits include improved concentration, alertness, and work performance.
It also benefits our motor skills. I remember seeing a study on the news comparing an over-tired body with a drunk body. One group of people were given enough alcohol to be legally intoxicated, where the other group was made to stay up at least 24 hours. Each person in the group drove (on a closed course) in their respective states and found that being too sleepy is basically like driving drunk. Scary.
Yet another benefit to getting good sleep is hunger control. When you get the right amount of sleep, your hunger hormones are in balance. When you are running short on sleep, the hormone that makes you feel satisfied with the food you eat goes down, while your hunger hormone goes up. Crazy right? (Source)
Are you convinced now that sleep is important for your physical and mental well-being?
My Formula for a Healthy Sleep Life
Planning + Environment + Routine = Healthy Sleep Life
One of the biggest things that I see in my own life and others’ is that if we don’t plan on getting to bed at a certain time or getting a certain amount of sleep, it doesn’t generally happen. I work some crazy hours between my three jobs. I have to be to my coffee catering office at 6am Saturdays when I’m working the farmer’s market. For my wing-n-beer job, I can be at work until midnight or later. Planning my sleeping time is essential since I don’t sleep during the same hours every night.
I have even gone as far as putting the time I want to get ready for bed in my phone so that if I am out with friends or doing things around the house I realize that I need to be getting to bed soon.
Sleep environment is different for every person, but it is important to find out what works for you. I lived in the basement growing up for a number of years and out of that I learned to love sleeping in the dark and with background noise (falling asleep to the washer and dryer was like a lullaby). I now have blackout curtains, which help very well when I need to get to sleep earlier in the summer when the sun is still out and also allows me to sleep in after my wing-n-beer job.
I also have a sound machine that I adore and take with me when I sleep in hotels. Another small thing to pack for great hotel sleep is a sleep mask. I was wary of buying one because I felt high-maintenance and makes me think of a snooty rich lady with her furry sleep mask in her lavish silk sheets. If you like to sleep in the dark, these work great.
If you are one who falls asleep to the television, you may want to know that studies show having light such as a tv on when you are sleeping doesn’t allow you a very deep sleep. Plus the fact that some commercials blare at you…you could be waking up and not realize it. My solution? Put the television on sleep. This also helps remind yourself that you are trying to get to sleep and not stay up watching tv shows or movies. Along the same lines…try to watch something that you don’t care to see the end of. The worst thing to do is put in a brand new movie at bedtime. You will stay up the two hours watching it (or try to).
|I know Gilmore Girls backwards and forwards so I can watch them at bedtime. :-)
Along the lines of electronics…your phone. Yes, it is awesome how popular you are with all the Facebook and Twitter notifications, e-mails and texts…but how can you fall asleep when you’re checking your phone every 5 minutes. I have a “sleep” setting on my phone where it doesn’t even so much as vibrate for Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. I have it vibrate once for a text and the ringer is on low (in case someone really does need to get ahold of me).
Something else that might keep you up…your alarm clock. That glowing light that tells you that you really really should be sleeping right now. Just turn it to face the wall. Trust me, you don’t need to know it’s 2am when you wake up to go to the bathroom.
Another key to a good sleeping environment is to keep your room (or at least your bed) for sleeping only (okay and other bed activities….you know what I mean). You shouldn’t be on your laptop or do work projects in your bedroom or on your bed. You want to feel relaxed when you walk into your room…not overwhelmed or stressed. I only use my bedroom for sleeping and getting dressed. I keep my laptop and homework out of there.
Also, if you get anxious at night about things that need to be done the next day, keep a pad of paper and pen next to your bed and jot down your thoughts, then leave them until the morning.
Having a bedtime routine can also be helpful, but this also depends on the person. If as a child you had a bedtime routine, and couldn’t sleep unless you went through all of the steps (bathtime, reading a book, being rocked to sleep), you may not be falling asleep as quickly because as an adult, you simply threw out having one.
This can be as simple as getting ready an hour before you want to be sleeping and reading in bed with only a lamp on. You could also get ready for bed and watch your last tv shows in the dark (making sure to stop at a certain time!).
|I would not recommend reading the Hunger Games series before bed…you won’t put it down!!
I like to get all ready and into my pjs, then have a bedtime snack if I’m hungry (I cannot sleep if I’m hungry), bedtime tea and either read or watch something in my room.
Oh and don’t drink caffeine at bedtime. That is never ever a good idea. ;-)
This whole sleep thing has been a learning process for me, but it has been so worth it!
I encourage you to work on some of these things for a great sleep life! :-)
*~Amanda aka Semi-Health Nut~*
What is your biggest obstacle to getting restful sleep?
What is a movie/show you have watched so many times you could recite it in your sleep?