I realize that I often talk about my own self-care practices on the blog but only in little snippets. My goal with this series is to take a look at different aspects and forms of self-care and help to explain how they work and how they can work for you. Although I am not an expert on any of these topics, I feel the information and experience I have gathered is something to be shared. Please leave me comments or messages regarding feedback about my posts or any question or insight you may have!
Sleep is essentially the bodies way to recharge and repair at the end of each day. To function at our best, experts suggest between 6-9 hours, depending on the person. Sleep is not just about quantity, however, it’s the quality that is important. Lately, I have been struggling to get quality sleep; while I am in bed 7-8 hours each night, I am often waking up and not getting into “deep-sleep.” This problem has lead me to examine my sleep habits and my sleeping environment; there are many factors about sleep that can be controlled for and lead to a better and more restful nights sleep.
1. Make your sleep space a place of comfort and relaxation:
A great sleep space has to appeal to you visually and also be functional. A good set of sheets and a comfortable mattress (or mattress pad) and pillows can do a lot to improve your sleep. You want sheets that can breathe and a pillow that supports your sleep style (side, back, or stomach sleepers each require different types of pillows).
2. Scents can be helpful to induce sleep and relaxation:
Lavender is a great scent for helping to induce sleep; I used Trader Joe’s Lavender Hand and Body Lotion. Some people prefer to use candles, oils, or linen sprays; any of these are great as long as they work for you. The purpose of having a scent, such as lavender, is twofold: not only does it help to illicit relaxation but it also is also a way to associate a certain smell with sleep.
3. A calming activity, such as reading or meditation, can be helpful in transitioning from a busy day to sleep.
The two things I do before getting in bed are a few minutes of deep breathing and a bit of leisure reading. Deep breathing, stretching, and meditation are great ways to calm the mind and body. Relaxation techniques such as these, when practiced regularly, are shown to relax the body in the midst of stress and anxiety. Leisure reading is also a great way to escape the events of our own lives and get wrapped up in some other place or space. The books I keep by my bed are light novels, inspiring self-help types (really recommend The Happiness Project), and the Bible.
4. Create separate spaces for separate activities.
To read, I sit in my chair with low lighting c/o my lap:
Separating spaces of work, relaxation, and sleep is so important. In my psych classes, I’ve heard several times that the bed is the place for only two things…and well, we’ve been talking a lot about one so I think you can guess the other! Living in my parents house, the only space I can really claim as my own is my room, so I have to make the most of it! That means having a desk/work area, a big comfy chair for reading and tv-watching, and of course my bed for sleeping. Your bed needs to be a place that you associate with sleep; if you find yourself waking in the night for longer than 20 minutes, the best solution is to get out of bed until you are tired again.
5. Fill your space with objects and images that give you peace:
Having items around your room that bring up positive images and memories is a great way to create a relaxing environment. The items can be souvenirs, photos, inspiring quotes, or framed pictures; any items that conjure up good feelings. I like to collect quotes and sometimes buy cards or paintings with inspiring sayings; good thoughts for good dreams. A great source for these is Quotable Cards which I love to buy single ones of and frame them.
A final tip is to dress for comfort; clothing and room temperature really matter in terms of good sleep. Your room should be cooler than 68 degrees and be mindful of having too many clothing layers, which can cause you to wake up feeling over heated. Having a great nights sleep requires different things for different people, but having a peaceful and relaxing place is a great start.
Tell me: what helps you relax and be reading for bedtime?
Have a great night and get some rest!
lots of love,