I’ll never forget this. I was in college working toward my Bachelor of Fine Arts, and I had a professor talk to our class about sleep. She told us that if we were getting enough sleep each night, we weren’t trying hard enough. If we weren’t sleep deprived, we weren’t putting in enough time toward our education.
I’ll never forget that, because it infuriated me. There’s an innate knowledge in all of us that sleep is great, and with all of the research based evidence to back that up, how could someone with authority be shaming a group of people into sleeping… less?
My friends and I got together after class and dissected the teacher as college kids do. Our hyper-critical lens of her misguidance sparked this feeling of revolt in us. We would try to sleep more, and we wouldn’t let someone of authority pressure us into depriving ourselves of what we needed to be healthy, focused, & happy.
Fast forward a few years, and I had recently quit using substances. Up until that point in my life, I always slept so deep. I mean, I could sleep through anything. It was blissful to sleep. So when I got sober, this new terror called insomnia paid me a visit. I don’t mean tossing & turning for a night, I mean maybe 7 hours of sleep a week. It was brutally painful to try and get through a day without wanting to cop a heavy buzz, especially knowing that would eventually put me to sleep. After weeks of this, people were starting to notice that I didn't look so good. A co-worker of mine gave me a sleep tea blend she made. It took a few days to work, but eventually I slept. I slept!!!! After weeks of on and off insomnia, I was sleeping again. I stored that experience in me. This is clearly an extreme example, but even a few nights of poor quality sleep cumulate & manifest as issues within the body.
But I'm not writing to share a few anecdotal thoughts on sleep, I'm writing to share with you my tips for a better night sleep. You deserve the best night (or day if you're a night shifter) sleep you can get. The sweet spot for me is 9 hours, but that isn't possible for everyone. My hope is that however long you sleep, you can make it that good good sleep!
Tips for Great Sleep
Re-prioritize sleep in your life. There’s many reasons why sleep is de-prioritized in our lives, but the first step in shifting the quality of your sleep is by actively making sleep a priority.
Set a bed time. They’re not just for little kids. Having a set bed time and wake time helps put the body on a cycle, creating ease within your being.
Stop eating two hours before bed. Give your body the proper amount of time to fully digest your food to improve quality of sleep! If it’s not possible for your life, start taking a digestive bitter before your dinner. Digestive bitters support a productive digestion and can help minimize the amount of energy needed to fully process your meal. It’s important not to skip this step if you are eating close to bed time. The body uses so much energy to digest food, and the process takes hours start to finish. Another hot tip is to eat a low-carb dinner, or something easily digestible like soup or congee. Eating foods that are quickly processed by the body will allow you to slip into a deeper sleep sooner.
Limit Screen Time. Yeah, we’re all addicted to our screens. Not only is it important to remove yourself from the constant influx of information, but the lights of our phones are overly stimulating. If you find yourself cycling through thoughts or struggling to quiet your mind, that’s a clear indication you need to put your phone away. Try putting your phone away from your bed at least an hour before bedtime.
Dim the lights & Switch up your nightly tasks. Reading, folding laundry, journal, even sweeping are helpful for me to organize my mind and cultivate ease. Sometimes just laying in bed with a dim light feels good. Let your brain unwind & sort through the day before bedtime.
Black Out Curtains. While they may not block out the sound of your 65 year old neighbor head banging to oldies alone in his driveway until midnight on a weeknight (why does he do that!!!!), they will make your room the perfect shade for sleep. Blocking out light pollution makes a huge difference in allowing our body to slip into the deep relaxation needed for great sleep. Not sure if it's for you? Hang a towel over your window for a few nights & see the difference.
White Noise. My fiancé is a light sleeper & our block can get pretty noisy on the weekends. We use a white noise app with a large variety of sounds to choose from. It does a great job at creating a sleep-worthy sound scape in our bedroom.
Ear Plugs. I slept with ear plugs for close to 2 years straight, even when I lived in the Mojave Desert on the fence line of a National Park. Ear plugs are great for blocking everything out & once you get used to the feeling of them, it makes for sinking into deep sleep a breeze. Seriously!
Keep a sleep aid nearby. If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep or if you wake in the night, taking an herbal sleep aid can help take you back into relaxed state of being. You want something that you know you’ll take. I keep Lay Low on my bedside, and if need be, I wash it down with a small sip of water. The taste isn’t offensive like alcohol-tinctures & I don’t have to sit up to swallow a pill. Easy.
& If you don't believe me that we NEED great sleep to be our best, check out my 11 fav reasons why SLEEP RULES!