One of the most often overlooked aspects of a healthy lifestyle is sufficient sleep.
Sleeping is not only necessary, but it can be extremely healing for us. It's a time where our muscles recover, our bodies relax, our brains get a break and we can drift off into dreamworld.
Everyone wants to be able to wake up with a jolt of energy before the sun comes up. It's no reason that people want this energy, waking up fatigued and groggy with no desire to get out of bed isn't the most empowering way to start your day.
I believe that every one is different. Some people are early birds, and some are naturally night owls. You can try to fight this any way you want, but some people just aren't meant to be up early, and that's okay!
However, I do have some tips and tricks listed below that may help you get a better night's sleep so that you can start your day with boundless energy and endless possibilities!
about being an early bird
I am naturally an early bird, and always have been. I don't think I've slept past 9:00AM my entire life. I am such an early bird that no matter WHAT time I go to bed (be it 9:00PM or 3:00AM) my body will always automatically wake me up around 6:00AM. This is the exact reason why I am so diligent about getting into bed at a decent hour, because if I don't, I won't get enough rest and recovery that my body needs to keep me functioning at my highest.
The key to waking up early is giving your body the dreamiest + deepest sleep possible with the least amount of interruptions. It's not about getting MORE hours of sleep, but about making those solid hours very deep and meaningful.
tips for a healthy sleep routine
Adapt a nightly routine
I can't stress how important this is. There are so many ways to unwind during the day, but many of us just go directly from working on a project or scrolling through Instagram directly to bed. This is OK sometimes, but doing this repeatedly isn't sending a signal to your brain that it's time to go to bed. Instead, this sends stress signals to your brain and you'll be going to bed with too much stimulation and racing thoughts. There are many ways to develop a nightly bedtime routine, but mine is as follows:
turning off cell phone 1-2 hours before bed
taking a shower/bath
dry brushing, self oil massage
sip a cup of tea
10 minutes meditation using the Calm app
turn on my white noise machine (or iPhone app if I am traveling)
jumping straight into bed!
This routine works for me because I can do it from anywhere (home, hotel, etc) and makes me feel peaceful, grounded, and calm before heading into dreamland.
Get on a consistent sleeping schedule.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time is so important. Your body is a clock and works like one. Setting your circadian rhythm is extremely important, and sticking to that and honoring it. Everybody is different, but I like to head to bed around 10pm, fall asleep by 10:30, and wake up refreshed without an alarm around 5:30 or 6:00AM.
Get off electronics 1-2 hours before bed, and sleep with them in another room.
This is so important, especially in this day in age. Think about it this way, the information you absorb goes directly into our conscious and subconscious. How many times have you fallen asleep to the blaring sound of television, only to wake up at 3:00AM to turn it off? Even though you are asleep, you brain and senses are still alert, so all the information you absorb (especially the few hours right before sleep!) will directly effect your sleeping behavior. Give your eyes a rest and make a promise to yourself to read in bed instead of mindlessly scrolling the internet!
Even more importantly, start sleeping with your cell phone in another room. This will remove temptations to check your phone if you wake up in the middle of the night. It's also a great habit in making your bedroom a sacred space which I talk about more below.
Cut off caffeine after 12 noon.
SO important! Caffeine is a stimulant, so a cup or so in the morning is totally fair game, but a 2nd or 3rd in the afternoon can disrupt your sleeping pattern. If you struggle with an afternoon slump, rather than grabbing a cup of coffee, try fixing yourself a tall glass of H2O, going for a walk around the block, or eating a nutrient dense snack like a fat ball. If you are a coffee drinker and are so fatigued around 3pm that you can't stay awake and NEED a 4th cup of coffee to make it through to dinnertime, you may have adrenal fatigue.
Get the TV out of your room and make your bed a sacred space.
One of my favorite healthiest home tips is not owning a television at all. I know this isn't what everyone wants, but at least removing it from your bedroom makes it a sacred sleeping space only. Make a promise to yourself that you will not lay on your bed during the day or in "real people clothes". Keep electronics out of the bed as much as you can and only step into bed when you are ready to wind down. If you are used to watching TV in bed, try reading a book. They are a great way to fall asleep.
Skip the late night workout sessions.
Studies have shown that high intensity workouts and sweat sessions too close to bedtime could potentially disrupt your sleep. Getting your heart rate up so close to bedtime gets your adrenaline pumping and sends signals to your brain to keep going. A PM restorative candlelit yoga class or light pilates session is totally fine, but skip the 8PM spin class. Of course, every person is different, and this may be the only time you can squeeze in a workout. However, if your schedule allows, start waking up earlier to squeeze in an AM workout, You'll be surprised to find that you have more energy throughout the day.
Get blackout shades for your bedroom
Remove EVERY single source of light from your bedroom. Digital clocks, streetlights, cell phone lights, even night lights. They are sources of light and send signals to your brain to stay awake. If you must, buy an eye mask to remove all sources of light. This has helped me reach deeper levels of sleep than you can imagine.
Turning off the ceiling fan
I used to wake up with a headache each morning, until one of my followers asked me if I slept with my ceiling fan on. I told him "yes", since I did. He told me that ceiling fans can cause morning migraines. A/C is totally okay, but if you have a ceiling fan, try turning it off at night to wake up headache-free.
Some things that help me sleep:
Tea in bed. I love sipping on hot herbal tea right before bed as I read. Below is my favorite brand!
A white noise machine has been one of the smarted $50 I have ever spent. I started sleeping with one when I lived in New York City and my apartment was so loud from the streets below. I now am addicted!
What are some of your favorite healthy sleeping techniques?