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Are you getting 7+ hours of sleep each night?

Dec 28, 2020

More than 50% of Americans get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. I am sure this is similar in other parts of the world as well. All the research points to how important sleep is, however, so many still struggle to get in the minimum of seven hours of sleep each night.

 

Why are we not prioritizing sleep? It may be that you feel that later in the evenings is the only time you have for yourself to relax watching television, catch up on social media, catch up on work, or take care of other household chores. For some, it may be that you wear it like a badge of honor that you don’t need many hours of sleep each night to function. For some, it may be that you can’t fall asleep when you get into bed, so you stropped trying to go to bed early and prefer to fall asleep on the couch. For some it may be that you feel like there are not enough hours in the day for you to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night and still accomplish everything else.

 

While these are all common reasons, none of them should be used as a reason for not getting enough sleep most nights. Unless you are the parent of a small child who needs you throughout the night, prioritizing your sleep and getting a sufficient amount will help many areas of your life. People who consistently do not get enough sleep can experience, weight gain, decreased immunity, increased health problems, increased moodiness, decreased concentration, and mental impairment that is similar to that which is experienced by individuals under the influence of alcohol.

 

If you are someone who does not typically get enough sleep, I challenge you to make the commitment to make this a priority, even if you have struggled with this ongoing. Imagine feeling alert and energized almost every single day. Imagine getting into bed and being able to fall asleep quickly most nights. Imagine being able to concentrate better, be more productive, and feel like you are at your best. Getting the appropriate amount of sleep can help make all of these things happen.

 

If you are looking to improve your sleep, here are some suggestions:

Make it a priority. You must make your commitment to improving your sleep schedule a priority. It will never feel like there is enough time, and in the moment, it may feel like Netflix is a better option than sleep, however, when you make improving your sleep a priority, you will be more likely to stick to your plan.

 

Go slow. Just like any behavior change you make; it is better to ease into it than to try to force something that may be challenging. You will be looking to create a new habit which can take time. If the issue is that you stay up too late, start going to bed just ten to fifteen minutes earlier until that feels easier. Then continue to increase in ten-to-fifteen-minute increments slowly, until you are consistently getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

 

Schedule your day. Each morning, schedule what you need to get done in your day including what time you need to be in bed. This will help you make sure that you are not overscheduling your day and will help make sure you are using your time wisely. As part of this, schedule out what you will do for the hour prior to going to bed. Be sure this time involves doing something that is relaxing so that you will be able to fall asleep easier when getting into bed.

 

Ask for help. If you feel like there is too much to do before you go to bed, ask for help. Whether you need other members of your household to help pick up or you need to delegate some work, figure out how to get some things off your schedule so that you have the time you need to get proper sleep. Figure out what can go, what you can get help with, and what can be put off until later. Ultimately you will get more done in less time when you start getting enough sleep and you are functioning at your best.

 

Decrease stress. If your mind races when your head hits the pillow, you will be more inclined to avoid going to bed. Anytime you are feeling stress, it is because of what you are thinking. You are likely making lists of all the things that need to get done or of all the worst-case scenarios that could play out related to something going on in your life.  Regular exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, and taking a warm bath can all help with lowering stress levels. However, learning to manage your mind is the most effective way to decrease stress. Coaching and practicing mindfulness meditation are both effective in helping with this. If you are interested in learning about coaching with me, you can get more details HERE.

 

Practice mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness helps us train our brains to stay in the present moment. When we are able to do this, we are able to reduce or eliminate worrying about the worst-case scenarios situations that could happen in our future. It also helps us reduce us overanalyzing and beating ourselves up about things that have happened in the past. If you want my free 5-Minute Mindfulness Meditation Guide, you can get it HERE.

 

Set the right environmental conditions. You may not like these, but I think you will like getting the right amount of sleep, waking up refreshed, and being able to function at your best more than you don’t like these! Sleep in a cool room. Get off screens at least one hour before bed. Don’t have a television on while you are sleeping. Don’t drink alcohol or eat too much before bed. Cut off caffeine in the early afternoon at the latest. Don’t exercise before bed. Reducing or eliminating these things will help you relax and fall asleep faster.

 

As I mentioned earlier...ease into this. It may make a world of difference for you to finally be getting the sleep your mind and body needs to be at it’s best. Try this for several weeks to several months and notice how you feel. Sleep is so essential to the rejuvenation of both our minds and out bodies. There is enough time for you to give yourself the sleep needed to show up every day feeling good and being as good as you can be!

 

~ Karen 

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Karen Vincent Solutions

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