Happiness Habits – Day 17: Sleep: The Key To Happiness
Sleep is important for your health, well-being, and how alert you are. Not getting a good night sleep can impact your performance during the day. Chronic lack of sleep can cause all sorts of health issues and even weight-gain. It can also lead to depression. In other words, not getting the sleep you need makes you feel bad.
On the flip side, making sure you get sufficient rest can help you feel more energized. You get more done, which boosts your self-confidence and your overall happiness. Making sure you get your beauty rest makes a lot of sense. I’m sure you’ve seen this in action. When you don’t sleep well, or don’t get a chance to get enough rest, you end up grumpy and agitated, right?. You’re now in a cycle where your stress levels go way up, which makes you feel worse. You don’t get work done, or it’s done less than well, you start to feel depressed and that leads to more sleepless nights. It’s a nasty, vicious cycle. And yet, I see over and over people making sleep their LAST priority.
If you can break that cycle and make sleep Priority Number One, everything changes for the better. You’ll wake up in a great mood and ready to tackle the day. You’ll get work and chores done and still have time to relax and unwind. That leads to a better night sleep, and an even better morning the next day.
One Step at a Time
The big question then is how do you get to this state of sleep-full bliss and a solid 8 hours of rest at night? By making sleep a priority. Yes, there are times in our lives (like the arrival of a newborn, for example), when getting a good night’s sleep isn’t a possibility for quite some time, but for most of us, working on a reasonable bedtime routine is not that hard to achieve.
And routine is the keyword here. Good sleep discipline is a learned behavior to develop into a habit. It takes a little effort on your part to change your habits and establish a good sleep and bedtime routine, but it will be well worth it. I promise!
- 1. Start by setting a regular bedtime (that’s lights out, not getting in bed and watching TV or reading), about 7-8 hours before your wake time and do your best to stick to it – even on the weekend and holidays. Our bodies get in a rhythm of walking and resting hours. Help your body get there by staying on schedule.
- 2. Spend some time in the two hours before bed to relax and calm down. Stop working, take a nice warm bath or shower, don’t exercise too late in the day, avoid caffeine at least 4 hours before bed, and turn off all electronic screens at least an hour before you’re ready to fall asleep. Turning down the lights, playing soft music, and reading an old-fashioned paper book (preferably not a thriller!) are all great ways to relax and prepare both body and mind for sleep.
- 3. Sleep naked. According to sleep specialists at the Cleveland Sleep Clinic, sleeping in the nude helps you regulate your temperature.
- 4. Vary your sleeping positions. Changing your sleeping position can make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep.
- 5. Use a suitable pillow. If it’s too thin, your head will overflex backwards or sideways, which is uncomfortable, disturbs your breathing, and causes neck pain and headaches the next day.
If you’re still having a hard time going to sleep after implementing a routine, consider supplementing with magnesium and /or melatonin. A lack of either one of those substances in your body can make it much harder to fall and stay asleep. Stick with your routine and you will get into a habit of getting plenty of sleep. That will lead to more energetic, more productive, and happier days. Win!
[From time to time, I’ll point you to something that I think would be useful during this Happiness Habit Challenge. Sometimes it’ll be a book, sometimes it’ll be another website or blog post, sometimes it’s my own offering. If I get any benefit from it (rarely), I’ll let you know.]
As some of you know, I’m a Sound Healer, using tuning forks to help clear various issues. I created a recording of a special set of tuning forks that help your brain relax and dump stress-related toxins from your cells. It’s called The Sweet Sound of Sleep. Listening to the MP3 sound file for five minutes before going to bed allows you to rest more easily and deeply. Check it out. If you purchase it, we both win!