“I’ll sleep when I’m dead”…Why You Shouldn’t Wait!
Did you know May is “better sleep month”? This isn’t the first or the last time I’m writing about sleep, because it is such a crucial piece of our health puzzle. Lack of sleep can lead to depression, weight gain, reduced productivity, health problems and overall diminished quality of life. Sleep is the time for our bodies and our minds to rejuvenate, recover, repair and prepare.
Insomnia and chronic “tiredness” are some of the top conundrums in current culture. As brought to my attention by Casper, at a recent Sleep Symposium Ariana Huffington stated: “Many of us are so used to being tired all the time that we think that is the new norm. If you go to Google and type in “Why am I…” Do you know what is the most common autocomplete?
“Why am I so tired?”’
So much can be done about this problem, but finding the source of your sleep woes is the first step. Often this can only be done through trial and error, so here are some of the common problems and potential solutions sent to me by my friends at Casper.
A comfortable mattress may seem like more of a luxury than a necessity but a high quality bed is a sound financial investment. A proper night’s sleep will help improve your decision making ability, increase your productivity at work and make you a nicer person to be around overall. Even better news: Casper’s mattresses are comfortable and affordable. But for someone like me who travels a ton, I can’t just worry about my home sleep. Thankfully I no longer have to worry because BedGear sent me this awesome travel kit while I was doing the retreat at Canyon Ranch.
Comfort goes beyond just high quality bedding. Bedding with wicking capabilities or cooling technology can help your sleep be more sound. It also helps to program the thermostat to drop to a lower temperature during sleeping hours or utilize a fan to keep things cool. We tend to have a deeper and more stable sleep in cooler weather.
The next difficulty in our path to sleepy-town is one I have addressed before. Anxiety and/or busy mind is a problem that plagues many of us but can often be simply solved through the creation of a bedtime routine. A meditation app such as HeadSpace or Gaiam meditation can be a useful tool before bed as can repeating the same yoga sequence (try these poses from a past blog of mine) each night before you lay your head to rest. Just like sleep training for children, adults can highly benefit from setting a routine. Going to bed at the same time every night and waking at the same time every morning will do wonders for your ability to catch shut eye faster instead of tossing and turning trying to get your body and mind to shut down when it isn’t expecting to go to bed yet. Plus having the same routine every evening will help quell some of your anxiety because you know what to expect and it gives your busy mind something else to stay focused on.
Another culprit of our culture is screen time. Did you know that the blue light emitted from our smart phones, televisions and other electronic devices actually wakes us up? We often use these things as tools to “wind down” before bed but the light these screens give off simulate our brains into thinking it is actually daylight, preventing us from shutting completely off and can trigger our minds to become even more active by suppressing our melatonin production (a chemical needed to help us go to sleep). You can read more about how blue light affects your circadian rhythms (sleep cycles) in this post by Dr. Breus- The Sleep Dr. So skip the scrolling and pick up a book instead, like Shawn Stevenson’s “Sleep Smarter”.
If you are a light sleeper, ear plugs or white noise may just help do the trick. They make everything from apps, to sound machines these days, even a simple fan may do the trick. If you are also using it to keep cool, well that’s just a double bonus.
You’ve probably heard that a warm glass of milk before bed can help you sleep. Well how about a delicious bowl of jasmine rice, warm milk and lavender. Here is a recipe I found that I just can’t wait to try! The smell of lavender is known for its relaxing qualities and turmeric has been promoted to help with sleep regulation.
Sleep is a big deal and living by the moto: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” may bring death a few days closer to your door. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to increased risk of health complications. So use some of these tips to improve your sleep routine and you may just live a longer life. I hope they help and feel free to share what works for you!
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!