Rest Well to Accomplish More
The first month of 2020 has come and gone. Have you found yourself setting any resolutions or refocusing on any goals?
As a coach, I’ve noticed a common goal for the new year is to get back to weight loss efforts or make better food choices. Whether it be through food changes or exercise, a typical area of focus is to improve our physical health and care for our bodies.
Although food and exercise are quite important and can make a big difference, I thought this month it would be fun to focus on something we don’t often think of as a goal or resolution but can set us up for tremendous success when we get it right.
I’m taking about a good consistent restful night of sleep.
When we are busy and, on the go, in our minds and our actions, sometimes sleep can be the first thing to go. But sleep is crucial to functioning well and most adults need an average of eight hours to be at their optimal.
Have you ever found yourself going through one of those times when you know you aren’t sleeping well, and you can feel how that lack seeps into your day? Maybe you have a harder time focusing, or you end up eating or drinking more in order to keep yourself up and pushing through. Maybe you feel like your memory is off or you can’t find the same enthusiasm and desire to make changes.
A lack of sleep could be a factor.
If this resonates with you, here are some ideas to reconnect with better habits for a restful night sleep.
Establish a relaxing bedtime routine: It can be helpful to transition to sleep time by making specific choices to move into a rest mode. Some ways you can do this are by turning off screens (TV, phone, iPad), dimming the lights in your home, and keeping your bed a work-free zone.
If you find that you can leave the computer in the other room and turn the phone off, but you can’t seem to turn your brain off at night, a helpful part of a bedtime routine can be writing out your worries from the day or your to-do list for the following day. Journaling our thoughts gives them a place to be released so we can focus our energy on rest.
Sometimes I like to think of the mind like a closed container holding our thoughts, circling them around.
When we take time to write, its like opening a door and walking our thoughts out onto a page so they have a place to live outside of our mind giving us more mental space to relax, restore and prepare us for a new day. The important thoughts we need to remember for the next day can be saved for a review in the morning and the worries can be ripped up and released to make space for something new.
Lighten the load in the evenings: Use the earlier part of the day to eat larger meals and any caffeinated beverages or chocolate so you can be lighter on them in the evening. If you find you aren’t sleeping well and you are used to having a nightcap, it could also be helpful as an experiment to take out the evening alcohol as it has been found to worsen, not improve, our sleep.
Lightening the load as the day carries on when it comes to any form of stimulation we feed the body, including our exercise routine, can help our body and mind to wind down and prepare us better for sleep. If you tend to eat, drink, or exercise later in the day and struggle with sleep consider taking steps to switch up your routine so that you can free yourself up for a better night sleep.
If you are looking for a better night sleep and any of these ideas resonates, try switching up your routine and implementing one of the changes to see if it helps to make a shift.
As a final note, whatever change you find yourself aspiring towards this year, I’d like to share words of inspiration to remind you that change takes time and nothing is going wrong when we need to reinforce something new multiple times for it to stick or to feel like it’s making an impact.
In the words of Henry David Thoreau: “A single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
Trust the process as you make changes and if you’d like more one-on-one support on this journey, give us a call at the Whole Foods Market Medical Center and come to meet one of our Health Coaches to help you along the way.