Healthy sleep is so much more complex than it sounds. It sounds so easy (for some of you it probably is), but most of us don’t get enough sleep. Those of us who do often still aren’t getting good quality sleep. This month, I’d like to challenge you to join myself and my hubby in getting more shut-eye!
Before we jump into that, though, let me quickly recap our August Health Challenge, which was to detox. I ended up needing to increase my detox herbs more slowly than I thought, but it is important that I not take things too quickly. Since I’m breastfeeding, I don’t want to detox any faster than my body can break down the toxins. So, I’m still just taking one of each capsule a day. We’ve decided to extend the detox for at least another month, so I’ll be increasing the burdock root and milk thistle to twice a day starting September 1st. To help my body with the detox, I decided to add “sleep” as the September challenge.
Sleep is so important and yet so low on most people’s priority list. I include myself in that, as I’m writing this at 11:33PM. It’s just so easy to think, “Once the kids are in bed, then I can really knock some items off of my to-do list.” What really happens, though, is that the next day I’m too tired to work efficiently. I’m left with too much to do at the end of the day, so I stay up late to get caught up… It just gets worse and worse.
Why We Need Sleep
During sleep, our bodies repair themselves, detoxify, fight infection and simply rest. The cardiovascular system is allowed to slow down and muscles can rest and repair. Although the brain is still very mysterious to scientists, they all agree that adequate, high-quality sleep is needed for healthy brain function.
A lack in quality or amount of sleep causes many problems, such as:
- lack of concentration
- lack of coordination
- slowed response time
- impaired memory
- impaired problem-solving skills
- depressed immune response
- emotional instability
There are many other consequences, but that list of commonly known effects of poor sleep should be enough to motivate us to make sleep a higher priority. We’re ready to jump in, so please consider joining us!
My Sleep Plan
For this month, I’m going to stick to a schedule. After the month is over I’ll lighten up on it some, but I’d like to form a habit during these 30 days. I personally need at least eight hours to feel rested, but I do best on nine hours. That will be my goal. If you’re following along, set your goals according to your personal sleep needs. Some people do well on seven hours, but others really need nine or ten- just do what works for you!
- Consistent Wake Time: The girls tend to wake at eight, so I’ll set my alarm for 7:30. My hubby is a morning person (obviously, I’m a night owl) and he gets up at 6, which wakes me. The sleep after 6 isn’t deep sleep, but it does help.
- Consistent Bed Time: What I plan to do is have an evening routine that will get me in bed by 10:30PM, then I will read until I am drowsy. If I try to fall asleep before I’m tired enough, I just end-up being unable to fall asleep. My hope is to have the consistent wake time create a more consistent time for when I start to feel sleepy. I know from experience that reading in bed allows me to feel tired enough to sleep long before a computer or TV screen does.
- Magnesium: Both the baby and I sleep better when I remember to take a dose of magnesium early in the evening.
- Naps: Babykins still has some nights that she just doesn’t sleep well, so on the days following them, I’ll allow for a 30 minute nap. I’ll set my alarm to be sure that I don’t sleep too long (as if the girls would let me!!).
- Sunlight: Sleeping deeply is much easier if you’ve had some sun exposure earlier in the day. When I was gardening every morning with Pumpkin two summers ago, I slept really well! I plan to get some good morning sun exposure every day possible.
- Computer Off: To keep from being tempted to work on-line late at night, I’ll be turning the computer off at 10PM. If you see me on FB after 10 EST you have my permission to rap me on the knuckles with a ruler!
- Daytime Routine: In order to fit everything in without my late night work time, I’ll have to get more organized during the day. I am hoping that better sleep will quickly make me more efficient, but I know I’ll have to put some extra effort into getting a good routine established. Before our second baby was born, I had a wonderful routine going for several months, and I plan to make a few adjustments and try it again.
There you have it! Silly as it may sound, I’m absolutely dreading giving up this calm, quiet work time I have. If you’re a natural night owl that has successfully moved your bedtime to a more decent hour, I’d love to hear about it!