Shakespeare had it right. Sleep not only "knits up the raveled sleeve of care," it is as necessary to life as food, water, and exercise.
The final ingredient for our minimalist, whole, and healthy lifestyle is one we too often overlook, especially in our modern over-busy, over-stressed lives. Yet a deficiency in this area is linked to increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
Sleep is not the enemy of productivity; it is not what you do when there's nothing good on TV. It's essential.
How should I sleep?
- Without proper sleep, all your positive food, drink, and exercise choices are useless. Lack of sleep interferes with the production of leptin, a hormone which controls appetite. With increased appetite, it's easier for you to reach for comfort, convenience, and fast foods.
- Make sure you're getting at least six hours of sleep every night, preferably seven or eight. Getting less than that can lower your metabolism by 15%, meaning you'll gain pounds even without eating any more calories. Like your mother told you...go to bed!
- Turn off all devices, including your phone, at least one hour before bedtime, and leave them out of the bedroom. Multiple studies show that LED lights in screens disturb production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
- Darkness is essential to sleep, as it signals the body that it is time to rest. Light exposure at the wrong times will interfere with your body's sleep-wake cycles. If necessary, use blackout shades or a sleep mask.
- Adequate sleep helps build long-term memories. While your body rests, the brain processes and consolidates information from the day so it can be recalled later. Without adequate sleep, your ability to learn and retain new information will be impaired. That's why kids need bedtimes too!
- Take time in the early evening to talk through problems or areas of conflict with your spouse. Don't stew! Keep a "worry" or prayer list so you can write about issues that trouble you. Try to leave those concerns on the page as you get ready for sleep. Things often do seem easier to resolve in the morning.
- Use a bit of lavender essential oil in a reed diffuser in your bedroom or as a pillow spray. Lavender improves sleep by lowering blood pressure and heart rate and calming anxiety.
- Transition to a great night's sleep with one or more of these activities:
- take a hot bath or shower
- pray or meditate
- write in a gratitude journal
- do some yoga or stretching
- read a printed book (all devices off!)
- get pressing tasks off your mind by making a to-do list for tomorrow
- listen to relaxing music
- make love with your partner.
Sleep repairs your body, improves your memory, and just makes every day better.
Have a good night!