Spring Forward? But I wanna Sleep!

It might be the worst Sunday of the year, the middle Sunday in March, you lose an hour of sleep.

I am really fortunate, I have always been a good sleeper. Not only am I good sleeper but I also love sleeping; that feeling the next day when you wake up feeling relaxed and refreshed, it’s similar to the exhausted feeling I have after a tough workout.

Not everyone is as fortunate as I am with sleep. There is a significant part of the population that has trouble sleeping. And the majority of us don’t get enough sleep. Regardless of how much sleep you get, it’s important to make those sleep hours count.

Now that you have lost that hour what can you do to get it back? Ok well you cannot really get it back but here are some sleep tips to help you feel more refreshed and alert.

Create a sleep cave:
We have a spare room in our basement and it only has this one tiny little window at the top of the room that is shrouded by the window gutter, so it’s dark. And because it’s a basement it’s also really cool. We call it the cave and anyone who comes  to visit loves sleeping in the cave.

Create a cave for yourself’; a sleep place that is dark and quiet. Keep the temperature lower at night, purchase those blackout blinds and create a sacred area that is for sleeping and relaxing only.

Take Your Phone Out of Your Room:
On the topic of creating a sacred sleep space…In the last year I have stopped sleeping with my phone beside my bed, in fact I keep it out of my room all together. I used to leave it in ‘Do Not Disturb‘ mode but that’s not enough.

The back light, known as blue light, tricks our minds into thinking it’s day light. Create a time each day when you are going to put your phone down for the day and stop communicating with the world.

Don’t have a home phone and worried about an emergency. Your phone can be just outside of your room so you can hear those emergency calls (the ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode has several options for allowing calls to get through).

With your phone away from you, you won’t be tempted to look at it if you wake up in the middle of the night or for that to be the first thing you see in the morning. Saying ‘good morning’ to your partner without a screen in front of your face will also improve the dynamic of your relationship; it reminds them how important they are to you.

Trust me, it makes a huge difference to take your phone away from your sacred sleep space.

Create a Routine:
We are all affected by circadian rhythms. Your sacred sleep space starts with a nightly routine. Putting your phone away, brushing your teeth, doing some stretches to help you sleep better.

In Charles Duhigg’s, The Power of Habit, he discusses how to break a routine and/or start new healthier ones. It won’t happen overnight or even over the course of a week; plus you need to try some different routines to see what works best for you.

It is also really important when you’re creating a routine to try to fall-asleep and wake-up at roughly the same time everyday, even better if you can get your sleep patterns to follow day-time schedules. You’ll feel a lot more alert if you go to bed when it’s dark and wake up when it’s getting light; your body gets in tune with nature and you just feel more alert and alive.

I recommend finding a favourite book, writing down the steps you take before you head to bed (including when and where you’ll leave your phone) to help you pattern a nightly routine. Before you know it you’ll have formed a nightly bedtime ritual, likely getting up around the same time, and find you’re sleeping better.

Eat if you’re going to get hungry:
People say don’t eat after a certain time because it will affect your sleep or you won’t absorb the calories. I don’t know that I believe any of it until I see the science. But what I do know is that it is super annoying to be woken up in the middle of the night because you’re stomach says ‘I’m hungry.’

You’re far better off to eat something to ward off the hunger and stay asleep. Even keep snacks beside your bed if you find you’re getting that hungry (I have a stash of peanut butter M&M’s in the drawer of my bedside table!).

Sleep is the magic elixir of life. It keeps you looking healthy, it helps prevent the ageing process, it just feels great to wake up refreshed. We all have competing schedules where we feel like there are never enough hours in the day. It’s amazing once you start sleeping well somehow it seems like you can accomplish even more.

Sweet dreams!