Getting enough restful sleep is one of the most significant things you can do for your health.
We all know it and feel it. To look and feel your best, you need to sleep enough, and when you don’t, you cannot continue for very long until things start falling apart.
Sleep is the best mind-clearing process. It is also a crucial step in cellular healing, and a lot of cleaning and clearing happen in your brain and body while you slumber.
When you sleep, your immune system gets revitalized. Hormones and metabolism are balanced along with general maintenance, tweaking and repair being performed in all bodily systems.
This means sleep is also detoxification time, hence the possible detox symptoms in the morning: body odor, bad breath, eye gunk.
When it comes to healthy choices, consistency is everything. Sleeping well only during the weekends is not the answer to sleep deprivation.
Actually waking up later than normally on Saturday and Sunday alters your body-clock, which easily leads into staying up (or at least awake) later on Sunday evening. This combined with the early wake-up on Monday, you start the new week just a little bit slower, a little bit more tired and stressed, than what feels good.
And still, there is life outside strict rules and bedtime hours. Gatherings and parties happen, you do not want to go home just yet, and you cannot always plan everything by minute. What you choose for yourself eighty per cent of the time is much more important than any occasional deal.
If you feel you need more sleep to wake up refreshed, the biggest thing is to decide to sleep more. And if you do not have enough time to sleep more, it is probably time to re-examine your priorities.
Just like with meditation, investing in good sleep actually comes back to you. You are more inspired and productive, you get things done more easily and effortlessly with a clear head and a rested body. Your metabolism functions better and your hormones are balanced.
I am far from perfect with my sleeping habits. I sometimes stare at my computer screen way too late in the evening and constant traveling has its effect on my inner clock.
And if I go through a day hurrying, and do not take any time to calm down – a little yoga or bath break for example – guess what? I do not sleep that well.
You know the feeling of being tired and hyperactive at the same time? Not good.
And still, sleep is what I am always happy to invest in. It always feels current and right. Most nights you will find us in bed by ten, including our dog Hilma, who is usually the first one to climb in.
If you want to improve your sleep and sleeping routines, here’s a couple of things to consider.
Our bodies have their natural rhythms. Even though most of us live and work in environments that are artificially lit and, to a great extent, alienated from nature and its cycles, our body-clock still exists. It benefits from clear and consistent signals regarding day and night.
Daylight, preferably sunlight, is the best wake-up call and clock altering tool for our brain and body. Spending some time in daylight outdoors every day feels good and does you good.
Especially when changing time zones, I try to adapt the new daily rhythm instantly and let my brain know what time it is by exposing myself into the natural cycle of daylight and dark.
It is impossible to sleep well if you are constantly over-stressed. Quieting and slowing your mind calms the body.
Along with keeping calm through the day, slowing down in the evening makes it easier to relax into sleep come bedtime. Dimming lights and shutting electronic devices does wonders to the spirit of your home.
Cell phone and computer screens are very stimulating to the brain. If you are not willing to shut them down altogether, try at least dimming the light of the screen to its minimum and avoid visiting sites and apps that tend to make you tense, irritated or overwhelmed.
I often change from work mode into evening mode with a good walk with the dog and going to sauna afterwards. If I have not done that by bedtime, a bath or even a quick warm shower has an instantly calming effect.
Rituals such as changing into comfortable clothing can also help with slowing down. I like to sleep naked but when brushing my teeth and preparing for bed I usually tie my hair up and put on my bathrobe. Familiar textures and routines bring comfort and adjust your mood.
Ideally, our bedrooms should be noise free and completely dark with fresh and cool air. Living in an apartment building in the middle of the city you cannot always block all noise, but make the best of what you have.
Besides burning incenses to scent the bedroom, I keep a small lavender pillow under the pillows I sleep with. The scent is amazing. Not too strong. Just soothing and calming, forecasting sweet dreams.