I remember a coworker laughing and saying to me, “you’re always tired!” It was during a time of stress in my home life. I had a young toddler and 3 kids in many after school activities, not to mention, the usual homework, injuries and illness that come with childhood. My mother had recently passed away and we were all still feeling that grief. My kids and I were very close to her. Really, I just wasn’t taking care of myself or getting to bed at a decent time. I was only getting about 6 hours of sleep a night, on a good night.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep a night for most adults.
I really stopped to pause when my coworker said that to me. I began to question why I was always so tired, and what could I do about it?
For a while, people have been treating those that can get by on little sleep like they have some kind of magic power that is highly desirable. But now, I think many of us are starting to understand that sleep is even more important to our health and helps us be even more productive for our work than the few hours we may have gained from staying up longer.
Studies show that decreased sleep can be linked to major health concerns, such as:
- heart disease
- kidney disease
- high blood pressure
Lack of sleep lowers your immune function and you may be more likely to contract illnesses, such as colds and viruses.
Not only is sleep important for your health, it also can impair brain function. That’s not too great for productivity! Lack of sleep mimics driving while intoxicated, or even symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
What can you do if you are having trouble sleeping?
- Check your sleep environment- It should be cool, (Sleep.org recommends between 60-67 degrees, which is much too cold for me. I prefer 72 degrees.) quiet and dark. Use a sound machine if the quiet keeps you awake. Is it time to invest in a new pillow, mattress, or sheet set?
- Is your medication keeping you awake?– Some heart medications, antihistimines and many other medications can keep you awake. Check the side effects and maybe talk to your doctor about an alternative. **Do not stop any prescription medication without consulting your doctor first.**
- Have a bedtime routine– Just like when you were little and your parents bathed you, read you a story and put you to bed, you should have a routine that signals your body it is time for sleep. Bathing lowers your body temperature when you step out of the water, which signals your brain that it is time to relax. Reading a book, not looking at something electronic, also can calm your brain. Read a book that is not too overstimulating (like mysteries and scary stories). Dim the lights and relax in bed while you read.
- Don’t eat a few hours before bed– Eating late can cause heartburn, indigestion, and may even affect insulin levels. Your body requires energy to digest food.
- Get 20 minutes or more of sunlight daily, preferably in the morning– Sunlight helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural sleep and wake cycle. If you can’t get outside, sit by a bright window or use your brightest light. Shut down technology devices an hour or so before bed. The blue light emitted from them can disrupt your body’s natural clock.
- Use essential oils to aid in relaxation– Essential oils such as, lavender, vetiver, bergamot, frankincense, melissa and roman chamomile can help you relax enough to fall asleep and to stay asleep during the night. Use in a diffuser to get the benefits aromatically or use them topically on your feet.
- Join my FREE 5 Day Sleep Better Naturally Challenge– This challenge is full of tips and tricks to get better sleep without the side effects of pills and alcohol. I’ll be sharing more ways to get to sleep and stay asleep throughout the night.