It’s no secret that sleep is one of the best health, wellness, and beauty hacks of all time. Think about it, don’t you feel (and probably also look) a lot better when you’re well rested? I know I do.
Honestly, when I don’t get enough sleep for multiple days in a row, then I usually get sick. Nothing crazy, just a scratchy throat and headache kind of situation. Essentially the epitome of what it means to be run down.
I know what you’re thinking, you’re in for a real wild ride once you enter motherhood.
Trust me, I know.
Sadly, although sleep is such a powerful tool at our disposal every single day, it’s something that so many of us struggle with for a variety of reasons. Since we’re all about maximizing those *free* health, wellness, and beauty hacks in our life, we need to hone in on what we need to do in our day to maximize our sleep at night.
The thing is, we all require different amounts of sleep. So I’m not here to say that x amount isn’t enough, or x amount is too much. I’m just here to remind you to tune into you in order to understand how much sleep you and your body needs.
Try to pay attention to how you feel when you have 7 hours, versus 5 hours. Or 9 hours, versus 8 hours. Which one feels optimal?
Shoot for that amount as much as humanly possible.
Blue light and screen time
Alright, we have to start off with a bang, because the truth is: we’re all getting way too much blue light and screen time on a regular basis. Sure, bluelight glasses might help, but really the best thing to do is to reduce our blue light exposure altogether.
First things first, if you haven’t already read my blog on how to turn your iPad and iPhone light red, then pause and read that. This will be a huge hack for you moving forward.
I like to turn my phone red once the sun goes down. Not only does this limit what I do on my phone, but it gives my eyes a break from the blasting blue light (yes, even if it’s on the warmest setting for night mode).
If you struggle to fall asleep, chances are you’re over-stimulated! And, let me tell you, blue light and screen time can definitely do that to you.
The best practice here is to reduce your screen time once the sun goes down. Or, if you’re in a place where the sun sets super early- then reduce your screen time starting about 3 hours before you go to bed.
I’m not talking cold turkey, don’t look at the phone for those 3 hours. Because that might be impossible work-wise. I’m just saying start tapering down the screen time about 3 hours before you’re going to sleep, to eventually be totally off the screen altogether at least an hour before you sleep.
If you like to watch a show before bed, then try to finish watching at least an hour before you sleep. Or, watch the show on a red screen iPad (haha my wife hates when I do this, but my eyes love it, so I don’t care).
Again, this is mostly important for those who struggle to fall asleep. If you can watch TV before bed, and fall asleep no problem, then you can just ignore me.
Otherwise, I’d like to challenge you to reduce the screen time for at least a week, and notice if you feel a difference.
Phew, easier said than done, right? I know there’s no magic pill to just simply dissolve our stress away. But there are outlets through which we can try to process it to help improve our sleep.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m stressed my sleep is affected so much! Usually this shows up in the form of waking up in the middle of the night with my mind going a million miles a minute. I personally don’t struggle to fall asleep, it’s the staying asleep that can be problematic for me when I’m stressed.
So, how can we reduce and process our stress more effectively? A few options that I love are outlined below.
I know this word alone can feel intimidating, but don’t worry! I’ve got you. I have a LOT of guided meditations on my app that you can trial free for 7 days. There’s also a ton of other teachers you can access on Youtube, Calm, or Headspace if my voice isn’t your preference.
I’ve found that when I meditate before I go to sleep, I will have a better sleep. This is true whether I do my meditation in the morning, daytime or evening. As long as I do it before the day is over, I feel better.
Typically when we’re stressed, the energy is high, fast-paced, and angsty. Meditation counters that will stillness, comfort, and calmness. Because of the stark difference between the two energies, it can be difficult to drop in right away. And that’s okay! Just try.
Another great way to move some of that more fiery energy is to actually work it out with the body. This can be any kind of physical movement that you like. I personally prefer yoga,walking, surfing, hiking, or weights.
I find that my stress is reduced even more when I move outside in the fresh air and natural light.
Talk it Out
This can show up in so many forms. Maybe you have a therapist, or maybe you journal it out. Perhaps you send a long voice note to your best friend, or you even talk to yourself on a long walk outside.
However you get it out of you, just get it out. I find that it keeps me up at night when the energy is stuck within. That’s usually a sign for me that I need to get the thoughts, feelings, and emotions out.
My therapist was actually the one who suggested this next part to me. When I told her I have so many lists and ideas running through my head when I’m stressed, and awake in the middle of the night- she told me to actually write them down.
Whether it’s in my notes app (red light backlight is on…duh), or even in the dark scribbling it onto a notepad on my bedside table. She told me to get it out, because otherwise it’s likely to keep me up longer now that I’m trying to remember everything, and keep it organized in my tired, scrambled brain.
I know morning routine’s are the talk of the town nowadays, but it’s the nighttime routine that sets you up for success the next morning anyways, isn’t it?
Also, back to energy- we’ve established that stress and insomnia is a very high energy. It’s airy. To balance air, we need the opposite force. We need earth.
Routine, ritual, structure- all of these things are very earthy. They’re dependable, reliable, and stable. And that structure helps to contain the air that is otherwise boundless.
So, create a nighttime routine! There’s so many different directions you can go here. It doesn’t have to be super elaborate, or ornate. Just like the morning routine that’s letting your body know it’s time to wake up and energize, the evening routine provides a few little signals to your body that it’s time to wind down and rest.
Here’s a few super simple ways to start:
I get it, cold showers are the cool thing to do right now. And, don’t get me wrong, the benefits are incredible. However, you’ll want to keep those as a part of your morning routine. Use warm water to soothe the body in the evening.
I like to actually take this time to visually cleanse the day off of me. This is really the first step in winding my body down.
You do you with the skincare routine, bb. I’m all about simplicity, and gentle care for my skin. You can read more about products I love in this blog if you’re interested.
Otherwise, do your own skincare routine here. The one thing I’ll say is this: try to keep it yummy. Give yourself a short facial massage, or tell yourself something nice as you apply your serum. I’m talking 30 seconds, okay?
We all have time for that.
I like to read a little bit before I wind down completely. My wife and I often watch a show together before bed, but usually I get ready before she does- which means I have about 30 minutes of alone time in the room before she comes up. I use this time to read or meditate.
Reading helps me to let go of work and the to-do lists, while still keeping my brain alive more than full numb out mode like TV. I read on my iPad with the red backlight. Of course.
Alright my friends, you gotta try these tips out and let me know how it goes.
Wishing you the sweetest dreams, and a fresh start to your day.