My Two Favorite Tips for Getting Better Sleep
If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not alone. Studies say more than 1in 3 adults in the US sleep less than 6 hours per night. That’s far less than the recommended 8-10 hours for optimal health.
Stress at the office and an endless to-do list keeps us working longer hours than we should. When we finally hit the sheets to go to bed, our mind stays occupied with the things we didn’t get to, and tomorrow’s tasks. We know we can’t perform our best without a good night’s sleep, which creates even more stress and anxiety about our insomnia.
If stress is preventing you from getting the sleep you need, you’ve likely experienced one or more of the following symptoms:
- Brain fog
- Poor memory
- Inability to focus
- Trouble making decisions
- Emotional reactivity
- Increased anxiety about sleep
A consistent good night’s rest, on the other hand, promotes the following:
- Mental clarity
- Improved focus
- Elevated Mood
- Greater sense of well-being
- Increased fertility
- Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
What Causes Sleeplessness?
In a nutshell, a terrible night’s sleep is caused by stress. We each have our unique stressors, but they all lead to the same thing. Stress, worry, anxiety, and frustration release adrenalin and the stress hormone cortisol, which keeps us awake long into the night.
As I’ve learned from my training in HeartMath, stress also does something much more subtle. It interferes with the steady, consistent rhythm of the heart. You may or may not be able to feel it, but the chaotic heartbeat caused by stress and negativity keeps us fidgeting throughout the night and prevents us from relaxing.
How Can I Fall Asleep Sooner?
To fall asleep sooner, we need to guide the body out of its stressful state. Positive feelings and emotions such as compassion, joy, and gratitude are very good ways to do this. When we think kind thoughts about ourselves and others and open our hearts in appreciation, the rhythm of our heart evens out. It begins to more closely mimic the rhythm of the heart while sleeping. This steady rhythm releases us from the stress that keeps us awake.
Daily meditation is a wonderful tool to help minimize the symptoms of sleeplessness and prevent the accumulation of stress. But my two favorite tips for a good night’s sleep are far easier places to start.
My Top Tips for Sleep SOS
Develop a Self-Care Routine
Self-care is a big part of releasing ourselves from stress. We might not always have time in our week to schedule a massage, practice daily yoga, or spend a day to ourselves. But we can create simple daily rituals that bring us joy and a sense of well-being. Essential oils are the perfect tool for these quick and easy moments of self-care.
Tip 1: 20 minutes before going to bed, rub 2 drops of frankincense on each of your feet. If you can, take the time to give your feet a gentle massage. Develop a sense of peace and well-being as you thank your feet for supporting you throughout your day.
Disconnect from Technology
Our smartphones are amazing devices, and make our lives more efficient in many ways. But in the minutes just before bed, they cause nothing but sleeplessness. The blue light of our phones suppresses production of melatonin, a necessary hormone for sleep. Not only that, but checking out phones before bed inevitably triggers stress. We see something that upsets us, or we’re reminded of one more thing we need to do. We end up staying awake longer than we should, or we toss and turn, thinking about what we have to do tomorrow.
Tip 2: Set healthy technology boundaries for yourself. Stop checking your phone at least one hour before bedtime. Turn it off, set it to airplane mode, or keep it in another room. Ideally, purchase a separate alarm clock so there’s no need to have your phone nearby while you’re sleeping.
Settle the Rhythm of Your Heart
Self-care rituals and the avoidance of technology are simple things we can do to settle and soothe the rhythm of the heart. With the extra time you’ll have by not checking your phone, there’s one more thing you can do to reduce stress. Practice an intentional heart-opening technique.
Bonus Tip: Before you go to bed, spend 5 minutes or more reading your positive affirmations. As you read your affirmations, feel them in your heart. Remind yourself of the amazing person you are today, and the amazing person you’ll be tomorrow. In your gratitude journal, review at least three things you were grateful for today, and set intentions regarding how you’ll demonstrate your gratitude tomorrow.
The more we stop and pay attention to what’s good within and all around us, the more we free ourselves from stress and the rhythm of a turbulent heart. Find greater balance and a steady heart-beat with these three simple tips, and I guarantee you’ll sleep through the night!