Many of us dream of getting more sleep—a restful, profound and delicious kind of sleep. I recently spent time around a four month old baby and witnessed nature’s simplicity: a good sleep means baby is happy and a bad sleep means baby is grumpy. It reminded me how important sleep is for humans, at any age.
As a wellness practitioner and coach, providing support around my client’s sleep health is an important touchstone. It plays a huge role in helping them strike a balance in their lives and overall health. There are many factors to consider when talking about sleep but the bottom line is that we all do it and we certainly all need it.
Why we need sleep
Sleep has been the subject of countless studies and scientists have had many theories about why we sleep. What we know is that sleep assists in the body’s restoration, accelerates wound healing and supports the immune system. It also supports brain function, helping with clearer thinking and emotional regulation. More simply, it has the potential to be a reset button and a tune-up, every night.
What’s got us so wired?
Our culture favours the go, go, go—valuing productivity and ambition over balance and self-care. Our stress levels and exposure to screens and artificial light negatively affects our nervous system which prevents us from getting the full night’s sleep we need to reset and restore.
How much sleep do we really need?
The average adult needs 6-9 hours of sleep per night. We all have different ways of getting sleep. For example, some people nap while others never have and never will. Observing your sleep patterns with mindful awareness is a great tool to foster a harmonious relationship with your specific sleep needs.
What is sleep hygiene?
This term refers to the behaviours and practices that promote a good night’s sleep. Sleep hygiene recommendations may help you get into a routine that promotes better sleep opportunities. If you are having trouble sleeping, below are six sleep hygiene tips for you to explore.
6 Tips for Great Sleep Health
Maintain a regular sleep routine by going to bed and waking around the same time.
Create a sleep ritual and engage in relaxing and winding down practices. This may look like shutting off all screens at a certain time every night, making a herbal tea before bed or reading a book.
Tell yourself “I deserve to rest” and believe it. You are not lazy. There is ample time for you to tend to all your duties and work, once refreshed. You have done enough for today. You are enough. Sleep benefits everyone including you and you will not miss out on anything.
4. Set it up
Set your bedroom to a comfortable temperature and turn off bright lights. Make it inviting. Get into your comfortable and clean bed. And an important note about beds, they should only be used for two things: sleep and romantic endeavours.
5. Lay the body down
Let it happen. Welcome sleep in.
With issues like sleeplessness or insomnia, it really comes down to acceptance. When we are trying too hard to go to sleep, we fire up the nervous system and actually create the opposite effect of sleepiness. Get rid of the fixation and practice a compassionate approach. Remind yourself that the body will demand sleep when it is ready. Freeing the mind from negative self talk will allow it to shut off to make way for sleep.
Still having trouble sleeping?
Look deeper into the issue. Keep a sleep journal or inquire:
- How many hours of sleep am I getting per night on average? Am I waking up feeling refreshed and rested?
- Do I have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?
- Am I able to perform my daily activities and work?
- How long has this been going on?
- Overall, am I happy and healthy?
- Am I experiencing stress and anxiety around work or relationships?
- Too much caffeine? A snoring partner? Diet and meal times? Late afternoon naps?
Look at what you wrote down. Seek support and help. Get curious and consult with practitioners like an acupuncturist, ayurvedic practitioner or a wellness coach. There are people and resources out there that can assist you in developing tools to restore broken sleep. Doing yoga, getting physical exercise, having a massage, practicing meditation, counting breaths, or using essential oils and sleep masks may all be of great use.
Sleep is the great healer and any deposit made in sleep is ALWAYS a good investment. Look into your sleep patterns and sleep hygiene and give yourself the gift of sound sleeping. Showing up in our awake life with energy and enthusiasm is important and sometimes the most productive thing we can do is to just get some sleep.
Coco Finaldi is a passionate and disciplined holistic wellness practitioner & movement/ yoga educator. Coco discovered yoga in 2001; the gateway to her rich scope of practice which encompasses bodywork therapy, wellness and life coaching and education, AIM School of Yoga and Holistic Self Care Mentoring. Her unique skills, experience and flavour make her offerings authentic. She generously shares her love and commitment to the greatest wealth - one’s health - and does so earnestly. She practices what she preaches and offers herself as a support and anchor to her client’s desire for growth, change and positive movement forward. Visit www.cocofinaldi.com for more information. (Holistic Life Coach, Naturotherapist, Thai Massage Therapist & ERYT since 2003)