This year I changed the wallpaper on my phone. I have a beautiful flower with the quote, “Love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle.” This image is a friendly reminder to make choices to create better health and vitality.
There are many ways to improve your health and vitality. Sleep is one of the most important ways to improve health. When I do not get enough sleep, I get stressed and do not feel like taking care of myself the next day.
And I’m not alone. According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 adults do not get adequate sleep.
Not getting enough sleep is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions—such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression—that threaten our nation’s health. Not getting enough sleep can lead to motor vehicle crashes and mistakes at work, which cause a lot of injury and disability each year.CDC.gov/sleep
Along with the health concerns mentioned above, lack of sleep can affect our mood. When we don’t get proper sleep, our bodies can tense up, leading to irritability, depression, and increased stress.
In a sleep study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, they found that the “results show that higher sleep regularity was significantly related to higher morning and evening happiness, healthiness and calmness during the week.”
It’s essential to establish a regular sleep schedule, even on your days off. To determine how much sleep your body needs, you’ll need to go to sleep at a regularly set time that allows you to get at least 7 hours of sleep. Seven hours of sleep is the minimum amount of time that adults need to sleep, as recommended by the CDC.
Once you make this change and catch up with your sleep, you’ll find that you wake up without an alarm. You’ll have better health and vitality! You’ll feel less stressed and much happier! To establish a regular sleeping pattern, you’ll need to do a few things every day.
3 Tips to Guard Your Sleep for Better Health and Vitality
1. Give your body adequate time every night to wind down before sleep.
Exercise creates endorphins that give us energy. And while that’s a good thing, you want to give your body adequate time every night to wind down. To naturally relax before going to bed, you need to avoid exercising 2-3 hours before your scheduled bedtime.
A warm bath is another way to wind down before bed. Consider taking one with some relaxing essential oils, like lavender or vanilla, an hour or so before bedtime. Diffusing calming essential oils can also help prepare you for sleep.
Some foods can help to relax your body too. Try having a banana or a handful of peanuts or pistachios about three hours before going to sleep. These foods contain tryptophan, which creates melatonin, a hormone that makes us sleepy after being consumed. Avoid eating too close to lying down, as doing so can cause heartburn and acid reflux. I try to stop eating several hours before bedtime.
2. Give yourself a bedtime and go to sleep.
Go to bed every night at the same time, even on weekends. I know this sounds boring—weekends are for staying up and having fun. But hear me out, going to bed at the same time every night helps you be happier and perform better. It’s worth it!
I have been working on getting to sleep at a set bedtime for almost two years now. There are times I am good at it, and then other times I stay up way too late. I always feel better when I go to bed as scheduled. It is an essential part of my health.
Tell your family and loved ones that you now have a bedtime and are going to sleep each night at the same time. Ask for them to support you in getting the right amount of sleep.
For me, this was hard. I live in the east coast time zone, two of my children live in the mountain time zone, and my sister lives in Hawaii, which is 5 hours difference. My usual thing was to talk to my children and sister in the evening. Now, we make sure we talk before I head to bed.
When I started to go to bed each night with discipline, I noticed a difference in how much better I felt. It took me about one and half weeks till I started feeling better, but I did.
3. Set reminders on your phone to go to sleep.
Alarms are a great way to remind you to prepare for sleep and go to bed. My second reminder is 10 minutes after my first reminder because I often ignore the first one. The second alarm generally gets me up and moving towards the bed. It’s easy to get absorbed in a task so setting reminders on your phone is a great way to go to bed on time.
I learned about better sleep practices and so much more from the book “The Circadian Code” by Dr. Satchin Panda. I invite you to get the book to gain an in-depth explanation of the circadian clock—why it’s important, how it works, and how to know it isn’t working.
With intentional practices to relax in the evening and create boundaries around a set bedtime, you will get better sleep! Better sleep is an important part of self-care. Getting a good night’s sleep is an easy and natural way to improve your health and vitality.