Want More Sleep? Ask Yourself These Questions

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This week, we celebrate national sleep awareness week. And let me tell you, it couldn’t come soon enough. This upcoming weekend, we will be “springing forward” for daylight savings, and will be losing an hour of sleep. So, this post will (hopefully) encourage you to focus on your sleep this week, and present you with strategies to create better sleep habits for the future.

Sleep is Important

Tweet this: “Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” -Thomas Dekker

It’s a Body Builder
Sleep does your body good. It impacts your hormone levels, which in turn affect our ability to feel (or not feel) hungry, build muscle, and repair tissues. Also, sleeping impacts your immune system—the body’s defense system against sickness.

It’s a Brain Break
Sleep is your body’s way of restoring your mind. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep allows your brain to develop new pathways, which in turn helps our memories and ability to learn.

It makes us more successful
Arianna Huffinton tells us in her book Thrive that sleep boosts “our creativity, ingenuity, confidence, leadership, and decision making.” In fact, once Arianna began consistently sleeping for 7-8 hours each night, she became the person she never thought she’d be:

“One of the benefits of getting enough sleep was starting my day feeling like one of those horrible ‘rise and shine’ people you normally want to throttle when you are among the sleep-deprived majority. I hit the ground running, minus the morning mental fog.” -Arianna Huffington, Thrive according to a Gallup Poll) gets 6.8 hours of sleep . In contrast, the National Institutes of Health recommend that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night. So, how do we close the gap? Answer the following four questions:

1. How much sleep are you getting?

Check in with yourself. Fifteen minutes after you wake up (and actually get up), do you still feel tired? What about mid-morning? Late afternoon? What changes when you get a little more sleep?

Pay attention to your bedtime. For one week, keep a sleep journal. Note when you get to bed each night, and also note when you wake up. This will give you an idea of how much sleep (on an average week) you are truly getting.

Track your sleep. You might want to download a sleep application that tracks your movement during the night. In the past, I have used the Sleep Bot Application for my smartphone.

2. Do you know how to sleep better?

Adopt a bedtime routine to cue your body that it is time to sleep. Try drinking caffeine-free tea (I drink Yogi Bedtime Tea ), reading a book, meditating, or listening to soothing music.

Darken your bedroom at night. Invest in Blackout Window Curtains to keep the streetlamp (or porch light) from shining in your window.

Keep your bedroom a screen-free zone. Watching television before bed stimulates your brain, and might keep you awake. And, the light from a screen could wake you up as you are dozing off.

3. How will you find more time for sleep?

All of us–whether you are a student, busy mom, CEO, or a combination of all three—have 168 hours each week. And the most successful people, according to Steven Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People use their time to put “first things first.” Meaning, they prioritize the important aspects of life before everything else.

Need help organizing those 168 hours? Sign up to get the Better Balance Calculator to plan your own week. This calculator guides you through ten simple questions to help you organize your week—from eating healthfully, to doing chores, to sleeping.

4. Do you feel you can keep sleep a priority?

Set a bedtime and stick to it. In fact, I have a “get ready for bed” alarm that goes off each evening to remind me that it’s time to begin winding down.

Set a wakeup time and stick to it. Waking up on time each morning will motivate you to go to bed on time. Check out my post on Good Morinings to learn more about waking up well.

Find a buddy. It’s easier to take on a challenging priority when you feel supported. Try finding someone to check in with weekly who will keep you accountable to your bedtime and wakeup time. Learn more by reading my post about better balance.

Do you get enough sleep? Let us know by commenting here!

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
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  • Anne

    I wake up automatically without the need for an alarm, after 6.5 hours of sleep,usually feeling refreshed and ready to go. Will try some tea before bed to see if I can increase the time asleep to a full seven hours !

    • That’s great to hear! Everyone’s sleep needs are different. I’m glad you are exploring ways to increase it. I have found that my sleep needs depend on so many factors–whether I am coming down with a cold, the activities I am engaged in during the day, and my caffeine intake. Anyway, it’s always good to know your needs and plan accordingly. Thanks for sharing!