Did you know that I used to be a TERRIBLE sleeper? I would live on 3-4 hours per night, every night! Now, I get 7-8 hours per night and am SO much happier and healthier! It wasn’t easy changing from someone who was almost proud of lack of sleep to someone who has a “normal” sleep schedule, so I want to share with you my Sleep Secrets: How & Why To Have A Good Night’s Sleep!
I am guessing that you know most of the reasons we need a good night’s sleep – it helps keep our immune system healthy, helps us feel better the next day, helps you make better decisions, helps you drive (and do anything else important) better, and so on.
Well, as a model and makeup artist, you’re probably not surprised to know that my skin and skincare are super important to me, which is a big part of why sleep is so important to me. Sleep is how our bodies heal, so it is a huge factor in having great skin (along with hydration, diet, and taking good care of it with hygiene). I can even visibly see a difference in my face sometimes after a good night’s sleep!
Additionally, if you follow me on instagram, or you’re in our “Too Fit To Quit” group on facebook, or you’ve seen any of my other fitness posts (which I am going to classify this as, along with nutrition), you know that I work out a lot, and that my main workout is weight lifting. Sleep is a HUGE part of weight lifting, believe it or not! It helps SO much with muscle recovery. As you may or may not know, when we do resistance training, we create small tears in our muscles. When we sleep, as long as we get adequate protein during the day, our bodies rebuild the muscle tears, making our muscles bigger and stronger. That’s why we need to get good sleep!
Now that I’ve convinced you WHY it is important, let’s get to HOW to do it!
Here are my tips for good sleep hygiene!
1. Try your best to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. I know that we can be super tempted to nap on weekends when we don’t have to get up, but I promise it’s worth it to get yourself out of bed and get moving, even if you nap later. Your body will get into a rhythm and know when you should start to feel tired!
2. Speaking of rhythms, another way to reinforce this is to have a “winding down” routine at the end of your day where you do something relaxing. This could be meditation, reading a book, taking a bubble bath, romantic time – whatever. Doing something to separate the potentially hectic parts of your day from bedtime is another way to signal your body that it should be sleeping soon – and if you’re someone like me whose mind tends to race at night, this is especially helpful!
3. Limit blue light at night. Our smartphones, TVs, lamps, and other household appliances emit blue light that is similar to daylight. Our bodies haven’t adapted yet to the fact that the unnatural light doesn’t mean daylight/time to get up! Ideally, your “wind-down routine” includes things you can do by candlelight, but if it’s unrealistic to have a screen time curfew, using an app like f.lux to turn your screen more orange as night comes, or the night setting on your smartphone can help. Another option are blue-blocking goggles* to keep the blue light out and help send your brain the right messages!
4. Another important curfew is a caffeine curfew. Depending on how sensitive you are to stimulants, you may want to consider setting a time after which you won’t have any more coffee, energy drinks, etc. Mine is USUALLY noon, but on days I know I am going to be staying up later, I increase it to two or three, which also depends on how tired I am feeling that day. Even being conscious of caffeine and its effects on your energy levels (the rises, crashes, and the effect on sleep) is a great start!
5. You didn’t think I’d not include fitness in this blog on How & Why To Have A Good Night’s Sleep, did you? I strongly recommend working out in general, but also think it is super helpful to get a good night’s sleep! Many people say they don’t work out because they don’t have energy, but I find it’s a catch-22, because once you are in a good habit of it, working out gives you more energy! “Working out” isn’t the only thing to consider, however. The type and timing of workouts is crucial! For me, doing HIIT workouts or cardio (which I don’t do as much) give me lots of energy. For that reason, I try to keep them in morning or afternoon, so that I am not too hyped up to go to sleep! Weight lifting, which is what I do most, tends to have either a slight energy boost, little-to-no impact on my energy, or can be exhausting and relaxing. I try to do those workouts in the morning, but don’t feel a huge impact if I do them at night. Yoga, on the other hand, usually relaxes me really well, so that is my favorite workout to do at night. Pay attention the next few times you work out, and make note of how it impacts your energy, and try to use it to your advantage in your workouts!
6. Nutrition, even aside from caffeine, can have a huge impact on your ability to sleep/fall asleep. While conventional wisdom says to have your higher carbohydrate meals for breakfast, you probably already know that I don’t believe in conventional wisdom in regards to nutrition. When we eat a meal high in carbohydrates, our blood sugar spikes. That’s where the term “sugar high” comes from! But think about shortly after the sugar high… You aren’t tired because of the extra things you may have done while you had all the sugar in your bloodstream – you’re tired because our bodies produce insulin to try to regulate our blood sugar. Again, since we haven’t adapted to the amounts found in processed foods, sometimes our bodies overdo it, and our blood sugar crashes, and we feel exhausted. This is where “food coma” or “the itis” comes in. This isn’t always a bad thing, though. You can use it to your advantage by timing a decadent dessert or carb blowout just a bit before bed so that your food coma helps you drift off to sleep! I wouldn’t, however, recommend using carbs as a sleep aid, unless you are hoping to gain weight!
7. Sleep aids… While I have little experience with prescription sleep aids (because a doctor told me when I was 13 that he didn’t want me to become dependent on them so young when I saw him for insomnia), I can give you a little bit of advice when it comes to some natural suggestions! I haven’t seen a huge impact on lavender (essential oils, room sprays, lotions, etc) on my sleep, but still incorporate it because it smells nice. Melatonin is another frequent recommendation, but I don’t like the side effects – I feel like I have to have it SUPER early, or I have a “melatonin hangover” and feel incredibly groggy all day. My favorite, which has been a life saver, is Magnesium. I didn’t even know it, but supplementing magnesium helps A TON! The first time I did it, when I woke up in the middle of the night to use the rest room, I actually had to hold on to the wall because I felt like an exhausted zombie – I slept SO HARD! And when I woke up, I felt very refreshed. I can’t recommend it enough! We use the unflavored/unsweetened kind*, but there are lots of flavors like raspberry lemon*, orange, holiday spice, etc, or if you are already drinking enough water and don’t want a big glass before bed, you can even apply magnesium oil topically! Another thing to consider – magnesium will not absorb into our bodies without calcium. So, if you’re a vegan or not a cheese fiend like me (seriously, look at my recipes – they are almost all cheesetastic), you may want to either supplement with calcium at the same time, or buy the powdered magnesium/calcium combo! There’s also magnesium flakes you can buy to put into your bubble bath – and you can then multitask with the second suggestion above as a wind-down routine!
8. Make your conditions ideal for sleep. This means temperature (how cool or warm is the room you’re sleeping in?), sheets/pillows/attire, a good mattress, and a dark and quiet room (or white noise app/machine). Whatever works for you, try to make it consistent in your bedroom! Other advice is that if it is possible, use your bedroom ONLY for sleep and romance. Avoid the temptation to do work, exercise, or homework or anything stressful in your bedroom so that it brings your mind to a relaxed place when you enter, and you start prompting your mind for sleep!
Well, that’s How & Why To Have A Good Night’s Sleep! I hope my eight tips are helpful! Which was new to you? Which have you tried? Have I missed any? Comment below!
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