Sleep is so important for so many reasons. Yet it is one of the first things we sacrifice when life gets busy. However, sleep deprivation is not a badge of honor or something to get accolades for. Quite frankly, it is dumb to sacrifice your health, beauty, and productivity.
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The reality is that we need to prioritize sleep. We need to stop treating sleep as if it is something we can pick or choose. Sleep is essential!!
In fact, sleep deprivation has many harsh side effects harming your well-being, including:
Increased Weight Gain
A lack of sleep has been linked to increased weight gain. When you are tired you are far more likely to load up on easy to grab junk foods. These foods contain higher calories than their healthier alternatives and are usually highly processed with high sodium and/or sugar content.
In addition, you tend to eat more when you are tired and your sleep deprivation slows down your metabolism.
All of this leads to an increase in weight gain.
Aging your Appearance
You’ve heard the term “beauty sleep”, well it’s a real thing. When you fail to get sufficient sleep, you age quicker. Skin makes new collagen when you sleep, which prevents sagging. More collagen means skin is plumper and less likely to wrinkle.
Thus, sleep deprivation can lead to twice as many fine lines. Not only does lack of sleep lead to more wrinkles, but it also leaves skin drier, which can make lines more visible.
Increase in Negative Moods
But perhaps the most important thing sleep deprives you of is joy, happiness, and a sense of peace and contentment.
There has been numerous studies and research on the effect sleep has on your mood.
Insufficient sleep increases the risk of developing stress and depression. According to David Dinges, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, not getting enough sleep can be psychologically damaging. You are more likely to feel irritable, angry and hostile when sleep deprived.
In addition, if you are sleep deprived, you are especially likely to react negatively when something doesn’t go well. Not only that but when things do go well, your sleep deprivation will rob you of your ability to reap the emotional benefits of that positive experience.
As if the above isn’t bad enough, when you are sleep deprived you have a tendency to be less friendly, and less empathic. So you see, failure to get sufficient sleep wreaks havoc on you and your relationships.
However, it’s not all bad, addressing sleep problems does make a difference. If you are struggling to maintain a positive mood or looking for ways to maintain a more consistent positive mood, the solution may be as simple as getting your rest.
Studies have shown that while you may be more irritable, short-tempered, and vulnerable to stress after a sleepless night, once you sleep well, your mood often returns to normal.
But what if you find yourself struggling to get to sleep, what can you do?
Here are 10 easy ways to fall asleep when you can’t:
1. Get on a Regular Routine.
I am big on routines. You can read the importance and benefits of having routines here. But, routines can also help you get a good nights sleep. Having a regular evening routine will tell your body it is time to go to sleep. When you do the same things each evening before bedtime, you will naturally trigger the idea that it is getting time for bed and your body will begin to relax.
No matter what you include in your evening routine, make going to bed (and waking up) at the same time, part of that routine. This helps set your internal clock.
2. Essential Oils.
My son has had a hard time falling asleep since the age of 18 months. Of course, lack of sleep exacerbates behavior problems. Several years ago, friends started suggesting something called vetiver. While I had never heard of vetiver, I was desperate enough to try almost anything. I purchased the vetiver and an oil blend called serenity. Along with the oils, I also purchased a small diffuser to place next to his bed.
This first night I put the vetiver in a roller bottle diluted 50/50 with coconut oil and rolled it on his feet. I then put two drops of the serenity blend in the diffuser, which I placed on his nightstand.
No lie, the kid fell straight to sleep. I was still a bit skeptical and thought for sure this was the placebo effect. Night two the same thing. I was still a bit skeptical but continued each night. After a week I was fully convinced and a firm believer in the power of essential oils to help you sleep.
In fact, probably a year later when my son was at camp, I did not put on the diffuser and my daughter came to me and said she could not sleep because she was so used to the serenity. I put the diffuser on for her and she fell right to sleep.
So if you are struggling to fall asleep, I highly recommend giving essential oils a try. I do use doTerra, but I believe any pure blend will do the trick. If you need a diffuser, Amazon has a great deal right now on this diffuser.
3. Brain Dump.
If your mind just refuses to quit when it’s bedtime, grab a piece of paper and a pen. Write down all those thoughts that are causing your mind to race.
I like to write my to-do list for the next day as part of my evening routine. Once I write it down, I can stop thinking about it until the next day. As important ideas pop into my mind that I want to work on, I write those down as well. Whatever it is, that has your mind racing, write it down. By getting your thoughts down on paper you will clear your mind for relaxing.
4. Start a Gratitude Journal
In addition to brain dumping, start a gratitude journal. Ending your day with writing even one or two things (but aim for 5) you are grateful for that day allows you to focus on the positive aspects of your day. Focusing on the positive keeps your body from releasing those stress hormones, which keep you up at night. Of course focusing on the positive is a sure way to boost your happiness level.
Of course, focusing on the positive is also a sure way to boost your happiness level.
5. Create a Comfortable Environment
Make sure your bed is comfortable. If you are struggling to sleep, it may be worth the splurge to purchase some high-quality sheets. I found these 800-thread-count sheets, on Amazon. Also, make sure that the covering on your bed is not too heavy and that your pillows are in good shape.
6. Exercising Regularly.
Even just 20 to 30 minutes of daily exercise can help you go to sleep faster when evening rolls around. This is especially true if you get outdoors to do your exercise.
A nationally representative sample of more than 2,600 men and women, ages 18-85, found that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week provided a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality.
However, you need to work out earlier in the day. While exercise can and does help improve your sleep, it’s important to schedule workouts earlier in the day or in the early evening. Your body naturally produces adrenaline during and after your workout. If you work out less than two hours before bed, that adrenaline boost may keep you up and lead to further sleep deprivation.
7. Don’t Toss and Turn
If you’ve been lying in bed awake for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed and try a relaxing activity like reading. Thinking about how you cannot sleep will bring on even more stress. So rather than laying in bed tossing and turning and watching the clock tick away, it is better to get up and try and relax your body.
8. Drink Chamomile Tea
If reading doesn’t help you relax, drink some chamomile tea. Chamomile, specifically, helps to relax your body. Let me tell you that Sleepytime herbal tea is aptly named, no kidding, it will help you relax and then sleep easier. If you don’t like Chamomile, any warm drink that does not contain caffeine will help you to relax and get in a sleep frame of mind.
9. Listen to Soothing Music
Soothing music can improve both sleep quality and duration. Try classical, or a soft instrumental CD. I love this CD for creating a peaceful environment. This CD always creates a calm environment in my home when I have it on.
10. Consider a Sound Machine.
Honestly, my sound machine was one of my all-time favorite gifts that I have received. I love this thing.
My sound machine has six nature sounds to choose from and is made to help you relax. Often one of the things that makes it hard for me to fall asleep is having too many things on my mind. When I turn on my sound machine, I am able to focus on the gentle sounds and clear my mind.
In no time, I am drifting off to sleep. I actually use it anytime I am looking to relax and unwind. If you find you are having a hard time falling asleep, a sound machine may worth looking into.
Sleep in tomorrow and remember it is better to sleep in than wake early and be tired all day.
If you have any tricks and tips that help you fall asleep a little easier make sure to share them in the comments.
As always, live simply, live fully and make each day your Favorite day!!