How do you feel about the quantity and quality of your sleep? If you are fighting fatigue and burnout, one of the first evaluations you should make begins in your bedroom. The quantity and quality of restful sleep you are experiencing is directly related to your ability to manage stress.
Sleep is our body’s time to repair and rejuvenate itself from the damage accrued in day-to-day life both physically and emotionally. How we sleep is as important as our actual need to sleep. Being able to sleep in a safe and comfortable environment, free from distractions, is key to nurturing meaningful rest periods.
Here are three ‘thieves’ that rob you of quality sleep:
Inconsistent bedtimes- Do the demands of your day dictate when you go to sleep and what time you wake up? Working until the wee hours of the night and getting up before dawn aren’t best practice for your wellbeing. Setting a designated bedtime and sticking to it will encourage you to stay focused and finish your work in the times you are awake. Pareto’s principle states that the time it takes us to complete a task expands or contracts to fit the time we have decided to give ourselves to finish. In this case, giving yourself a specific bedtime will ensure that what you need to get done will happen in the time prior to your bedtime. Consistency in your bedtime routine will improve your stamina and help avoid burnout. Interestingly chaotic sleep times also cause sleep jet-lag which is similar to normal jet-lag.
Smartphones and devices- Smartphones, televisions, iPads, and computers are all designed to help make our work easier and entertainment more accessible. The truth is, these things have no place in your bedroom – harsh I know! Science is proving that screen time before bed is detrimental to your quality and quantity of sleep. Consider making your bedroom a screen-free zone and a sacred space for rejuvenation.
Anxiety and worry- The connection between poor sleep and anxiety may seem like a “chicken and egg” scenario. Does lack of sleep lead to anxiety, or does anxiety cause lack of sleep? No matter the cause, anxiety is a thief of quality sleep. Getting serious about tackling whatever trouble may be happening in your life that is causing you to be anxious will help you find rest in the bedroom. * If you feel your anxiety is consuming you please speak to your doctor, there are different treatments available for extreme anxiety.
Here are three ways to improve your sleep quality:
Evening rituals- Your body is set to a rhythm. You are working in sync with calendars, clocks, and other routines that create the rhythm of your life. Your evening rituals can enhance these rhythms and get you ready for a great night’s sleep. Begin with an evening routine that is consistent, and promotes peace and harmony in your home. After work, take some time to reconnect with your family, housemates or if you live alone, call a friend. Prepare for the next day. Spend a few minutes checking what you have to do the following day, what you need to be ready for and get organized. Eat a healthy dinner at the table with your family (or yourself if you live alone). Limit television and computer usage. Make distinctive transitions between mealtime and bedtime prep: including showers, brushing of teeth, bedtime stories (if you have kids), etc. Being consistent and predictable in your evening routine will reduce conflict and improve the quantity and quality of your whole family’s sleep.
Soothing and comfortable environments- One of the best indicators of the quality and quantity of your sleep is the state of your bedroom itself. From the temperature of your room to the warmth of your bed clothes, the details matter. Having an environment that is free of distractions such as noise, light, too few or too many blankets or the chair that doubles as a clothes horse (!) makes all the difference when it comes to your sleep. Create an environment that promotes comfort and calm, and your sleep quality will improve dramatically. There are two great alarm clocks that help promote the activation of melatonin which is our sleep hormone and manages our sleep/wake cycle. I use a Lumie light but the Hatch is amazing too!
Exercise and eating well- Believe it or not, what you eat and how you exercise affects your sleep. Eating foods that are high in salt or too spicy for your digestive system during the day can affect your ability to stay in a deep sleep. Eating food too close to bedtime can also affect your quality of sleep. Drinking too much water close to bed time and having to wake up multiple times to use the bathroom can break your cycle of restorative sleep and leave you feeling tired and worn-out. Exercise is a key contributor to high-quality sleep. However, and this is important, if you are in a period of increased stress for a long period of time then high intensity training like running, cycling and HITT classes may be doing you more damage by increasing your already stretched cortisol hormone so it might be better to lower the intensity and do daily walking, swimming, yoga or pilates for a while. Even those with anxiety report that exercising, whether it’s walking or running, helps them fight the insomnia that worrying causes. Schedule something every day that is not putting your body under undue pressure to increase your quality of sleep.
Sleep is a key factor in both preventing and recovering from burnout. Getting you and your family into an evening routine and your sleep environment ready for bed will help you optimize your sleeping time and have you feeling refreshed and ready for the next day.