Sleep Hygiene is one of the more critical components of any health and wellness journey. Do you have a sleep hygiene checklist?
Weight Loss and Sleep
Naturally, when you think about losing weight or feeling better, the first things that come to mind are exercising and eating healthier. Rarely does anyone consider sleep when thinking about health, weight loss and general energy.
Not everyone can get that rock solid night of sleep every single night, but it is worth it to look at your sleep hygiene to see where areas of improvement are. That’s where the sleep hygiene checklist comes in. Taking one area at a time and building better habits that will improve your quality of sleep will benefit you in many ways.
When you get a good night’s sleep, you are going to wake up more energetic, happy, and able to tackle the day. That helps you to function better for workouts, staying focused at work, and balancing everyday stressors.
The Sleep Hygiene Checklist
Need to improve your sleep hygiene? Use this checklist to help master your sleep habits and improve your health and wellbeing.
Sleep Tip #1 – Consistency
You may go to bed nearly the same time each night during the week due to your work or school schedule, but when it comes to the weekend, you’ll be all over the place. This was one of the harder transitions for myself over time, but once you get your bedtimes and wake times to consistently fall in the same time frame – ideally within an hour – you will benefit immensely from not only the ability to fall asleep, but to stay asleep.
Let’s say, for example, you get to bed around 10pm on weekdays. But on weekends, it’s as late as 1am and sometimes as early as 8pm. That is a massive variance for your body.
How do we make this more consistent to improve sleep hygiene?
First, it’s important to ask yourself what is your ideal sleep time? Maybe you are currently going to bed at 10pm, but you would prefer 9pm. I’d recommend starting to get into bed around 9:45pm (15 min increments) for 4-7 days, then 9:30pm, then 9:15pm, followed by the actual goal of 9pm. Within a few weeks, you will have naturally navigated to your ideal time.
Use the same concept for waking up. If it’s best for you to wake at 6am but you are currently waking at 7:15am, you will want to slowly work your way there. Start by waking up 15 minutes earlier to get yourself waking at your ideal time.
Next, tackle the weekend sleep schedule. Try to stay within 60 minutes of your weekday schedule. So, if you wake Monday-Friday at 6:30am, you will want to wake up Saturday and Sunday between 6:30am and 7:30am. If you go to bed Monday-Friday at 10:00pm, then go to bed over the weekend between 10:00pm and 11:00pm.
Consider tracking your sleep to better understand the reality behind your sleep versus going off your perception only. This will allow you to track improvements made from actions you’ve taken with your sleep schedule.
Sleep Tip #2: Dark Space:
Creating a space that has minimal light pollution is imperative. When we have light in our rooms, it impedes our body’s natural ability to create the hormone Melatonin, which regulates our sleep and wake cycles. Even dim lighting can have this effect.
So, watching reruns of ‘Friends’, reading under a light, or having a nightlight on is not ideal for getting into your natural circadian rhythm. Removing your TV from your room, buying black-out shades, and being conscious of what lights are in your room will be solid steps forward in improving your dark space.
Sleep Tip #3: Turn Up Your Senses:
I personally love using my senses of taste, smell, and hearing to enhance my mood to go to sleep. Try each of these in any way you choose and feel the vast difference with time and consistency.
With taste, I enjoy either a cup of chamomile tea or a cup of warm water with magnesium powder in it. Both are so relaxing, taste lovely, and will ease you into an excellent night’s slumber.
For smell, I like to use a diffuser that has Lavender in it to help calm my senses. I only use lavender in the evening, so it triggers my body and brain that it is time to rest and sleep. (Whereas I use more of a citrus blend in the morning to trigger waking up and energy.)
When it comes to the hearing sense, it’s nice to turn on something to help your busy brain shut down. I call it “Monkey Brain” – you know, when you just can’t seem to get it to calm down and wind down?
Distracting yourself from the spider web of thoughts with something calming is proven to increase the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. I personally enjoy either instrumental music or guided meditation. There are many playlists on Spotify or iTunes made for sleep and they use sounds like thunderstorms, ocean waves, birds, pianos, or even the rainforest. Apps like Calm and Insight Timer will provide thousands of options for guided meditations that will make your mind melt.
Sleep Tip #4: Turn off Screens
Don’t hate me here, but I’m going to suggest you remove your TV from your bedroom.
In fact, the same goes with your ipad, tablet, or phone. It’s just too tempting to stay on and scroll through social media or news platforms. If we are all honest here, we know we can blow an hour just scrolling through Tik Tok or Twitter without even noticing. The TV playing is only going to keep you up later because of the “one more episode” mentality and all of the sudden, it’s 1am! Not only is this not conducive for a good night’s sleep because of how it loads your brain with that much more to worry about, but the screen’s blue lights truly have an effect on your circadian rhythm. (See ‘Dark Room’ above)
Reserving your bedroom space for sleep and only sleep will allow for your body and mind to identify that space is just for rest and sleep. Not activity. You will find you will fall asleep earlier and be able to stay asleep longer with the removal of your screens.
Sleep Tip #5: Legs up the Wall
Placing your legs up the wall while lying in bed will promote a handful of benefits for better sleep.
It is a gentle, partial inversion that can be held for 10-15 minutes. It reverses the circulation, promoting lymph flow and helping with swollen feet and ankles. This pose will also help low back pain and allow you to tap mindfully in diaphragmatic breathing. (The expansion of the diaphragm in a full 360 degree motion). This type of breathing in this partial inversion will calm the mind and soothe the body, preparing it for a beautiful night’s sleep. You can also try it if you have awoken in the middle of the night so you can get back to sleep.
Those that have high blood pressure, glaucoma or any spine/neck concerns should consult with a doctor prior to holding legs up the wall.
Sleep Hygiene Checklist in Practice
Take the next 45 days to implement each checklist tip listed here, along with utilizing a logbook to track your sleep. You can clearly identify what does and does not work for you to find the perfect combination to help you with your sleep. When you begin to sleep better, your weight loss and health & wellness journey will get into momentum!
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