Summer is coming to a close, kids are going back to school, and the highways are pretty much back to their usual rush to get somewhere fast bottleneck. With life getting crazy again after a warm weather break, we’re devoting September to our favorite solution to relax and rejuvenate our precious minds and bodies. This month, we bring you some ways to invest more fully in the thing that eludes us when we get busy: sleep.
Here are 10 of our favorite tips to kick off your 9th month of the year.
Cool your room
Not the first time we’ll say it and not the last for sure. Whether during these warm weather months — and, yes, many of us are still in deep heat in September — or winter, keeping your bedroom at a bonnie 65ºF (18.3ºC) is optimum for sleep. As you know, we work off of the circadian rhythm, that ebb and flow of waking and sleeping that follows the natural rising and setting of the sun. The cooling temperature tips our internal clock off that it’s time to rest and prompts melatonin to release, thereby pushing your personal snooze button.
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
The theory here is it’s not about your alarm clock on your nightstand, but the one in your head. By getting into a rhythm — there’s that word again — of going to sleep and waking up every day at the same time, you get into a routine and you rest better. The same goes with eating at the same time everyday. Once you get yourself used to the pattern you’ve set for yourself, your body and mind naturally follow. You’ll feel more relaxed as time to sleep comes and when it’s time to wake, you will do so feeling more refreshed. You can do this by setting reminders on your phone. For example, I have my phone set to 10 p.m. for sleep and 5:30 a.m. for waking (I have two dogs who would never forgive me if I didn’t get up at the same time every day). That’s a solid 7 and ½ hours and all I get is a gentle “ping” on both ends as reminders. Very helpful.
Keep a sleep journal
Part of monitoring your sleep schedule and keeping it on track is to, well, track it. Sleep journals are excellent for this. They help you maintain your sleep and wake times as well as show you what may be disturbing or throwing them off. It doesn’t matter whether you write it down in a notebook or do it digitally, and you don’t have to write a giant tome about any of it. Keeping it concise and to the point can make it easier to chronicle and even stay with it.
Exercise (just not right before bed)
From yoga and the “evening constitutional” of a walk after dinner to moderate aerobic exercise, getting the blood flowing through your body helps you sleep at night. No one’s exactly sure why, but something to think about is this: When you move, your internal temperature rises and your endorphins kick in. Once those even out, your body relaxes, your temperature lowers, and you start to feel ready for sleep. The common thought is not to exercise too close to bed. It’s the equivalent of coffee for some people. For others, however, the time of day they exercise doesn’t affect them just as long as you are getting some sort of movement going for yourself.
Give yourself calm down time
Just as we do for our children by having them take a warm bath at night and reading them bedtime stories, we need to create a calm down routine for ourselves. A warm bath is good. A cup of herbal tea and some gentle music, maybe even sitting outside and watching the moon and just slowing the mind. After a long day of busy-ness, giving yourself a way to step back and relax, just let go and have the stress melt away, makes going to sleep that night much easier.
Tickle your senses
Whether it’s finding the kind of lighting, sound, scent or touch that relaxes you, indulging your senses in getting you a better rest is another helpful tip. There are noises and smells that affect our mind and body, calming our nerves, our muscles, and de-stressing us. Whether it’s white noise, the smell of lavender, or the feeling of cool, smooth sheets against your body, set up an area of your bedroom or even your living space to escape with some candles, mood lighting, and the sounds of sleep that work for you.
Get cozy with fabrics
The linens we wrap ourselves in go a long way toward making the time we spend in them that much cozier. Silk, satin, flannel, bamboo — only you can decide what feels best to you. Try out a few different styles and fabrics, colors as well. You’ll know it works when it works. Weighted blankets are great for some people, investing in electronically designed cooling sheets for others. There are so many wonderful options available to make your bedtime better these days, it’s very exciting.
Change your bed
The rule is to change your mattress every 7 to 10 years. Again, this is based on personal choice as well as the type of mattress you have. Although, let’s be honest, holding onto it for longer than ten years probably isn’t the healthiest thing in the world. If your mattress is sagging, is starting to smell, is lumpy, stained, or you notice body aches when you wake up, those are signs you need to replace it. As with bed linens, the world of the mattress has expanded in the 21st century and the variety is awesome. There are crazy sales going on all the time to make it easy to get a fantastic bed that suits your body and needs at a price that makes you smile. And then, of course, there’s the £1.2 million ($1.5 million) floating bed by Janjaap Ruijssenaars, if you are so inclined.
Eat to sleep
We’re big believers in eating well to sleep well. We wrote about it pretty in depth back in July. What we put into our bodies affects everything from our mind to our toes. Ultimately, there are foods that support your sleep health as well as your physical well-being. They feed your body and your mind, relax you and rejuvenate you. So, eat, drink, and sleep blissfully.
You’ve seen us talk about meditation in the past and here’s another reminder. It’s not about having a mantra, chanting, or anything like that. Simply said, slow your breathing and focus your mind. If it begins to wander, let it flow then bring it back to focusing on the breath. The time you take to free your brain from the stress of the day provides some well-needed space to let rest and relaxation creep in.
The personal choice of resting well
If you notice at the start of this, we said these are OUR favorite ways to get good rest. You may have discovered other options that work great for you. Each of our bodies and minds are different. What works best for you is what works best. While there are the familiar dos and do nots — do hydrate throughout the day, do not drink alcohol too close to bedtime, do keep your caffeine down, do not eat spicy foods before sleep, do turn off that blue light — discovering the best way to a blissful sleep is very personal.
On your journey to manifesting your very own best rest, we wish you a good night’s sleep, magical dreams, and blissful tomorrows.