It has become an achievement to get less than eight hours of sleep. People often brag at the office that they only got five hours of sleep the night prior. As we have become increasingly obsessed with technology, we spend more time than ever checking our phones at night, responding to late-night emails and scrolling through our news feeds on Facebook instead of shutting down, shutting off and shutting our eyes.
I have always been a morning person. I was always the kid who woke up before the alarm, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to start the day. I never needed much sleep growing up. In fact, I never needed much sleep in college, either. This all changed when I hit my mid-20s.
I started to notice the fact that with less sleep, my skin was not as bright, my energy was a roller coaster solely dependent upon caffeine and my eating habits were poorer than they were on a good eight hours of sleep. (I may or may not have had Kit Kats for lunch.)
When I met my boyfriend, one of the first things he told me was he needed the same amount of sleep every night, and he had specific steps he would take to achieve that. I legitimately thought he was a nut. Sleep is sleep, so who cares if you get five hours or eight hours?
I laughed when he told me he goes to bed at 8:30 pm, thinking, "Wow, I have not done that since I was a kid." As time went on and we began spending more and more time together, leading to him eventually moving in, I became just as serious about my sleep as he is. And boy, did it pay off. My skin was brighter, my weight was steadier, I was radiating infectious energy and I started really looking forward to bed every night.
I implore you to start reconsidering the amount of sleep and the quality of sleep you are getting every night. Try getting eight hours of good sleep for a week, and see for yourself the difference it makes. You spend at least eight hours a day kicking ass at work, so reward yourself by giving your body eight hours a night to recover and restore.
Here are six tips to help you achieve a better, deeper night's rest:
1. Warm Shower And Moisturize
I like to take a hot shower after my nightly workout, and I use that time to soak and destress. I like to “wash away the day,” if you will.
Some people skip their nightly shower or bath, but I think it really makes a difference when I feel clean and get into bed. Also, I make sure every bit of my makeup is off, and I take the time to hydrate my skin with good moisturizers so that while I'm sleeping, my skin is getting refreshed and moisturized. (I'm hopefully combating the aging process.)
The last hour before bed, I don't like my mind to be concerned with serious or pressing issues. I like to mentally unwind.
To do this, I either read a few chapters from a feel-good book, chat with my boyfriend or if my day was more stressful than usual and I am having trouble winding down, I will simply just do a little yoga breathing.
3. Switch Off
Something that has really helped me get a better, more meaningful night's rest is moving my phone away from my bedside table. I was notorious for checking my work email at 2 am or any time I would wake up to use the restroom.
This became unhealthy, and it really disrupted my sleep. How ridiculous is it to concern yourself with matters you can do nothing about at 2 am?
Let your phone rest while you are resting. Now my phone also gets eight hours of rest, and it's plugged in far away from my bedside.
4. Sleepy Time Tea
Both do a phenomenal job of helping me nod off and stay in a deep sleep. It hits me almost immediately, and it helps me to relax and shut off. I have come to look forward to my warm cup of sweetness right before bed.
5. White Noise
White noise will drown out any annoying sounds you would have otherwise heard throughout the night. I use the White Noise app, which is free on the App Store.
There are many sounds to choose from. Pick one that makes you feel the most relaxed and drowns out the most noise. If you're like me and you have a dog that likes to bark at night, this will really help combat the barking. It will not, however, drown out inconsiderate neighbors who decide to hammer nails into the wall in the middle of the night.
Set the white noise to stop a couple of hours before you wake up so you don't feel groggy upon awaking.
6. Say Goodnight
If you are sleeping with a loved one, don't just roll over when you decide it's time to sleep. Instead, give your partner a goodnight kiss, and tell your partner you love him or her.
Don't take it for granted that you have found someone you love enough to share a life with. Regardless of whether or not you have a bedfellow, think of three things you are grateful for, and spend a few quiet moments appreciating them. This will put you in a calm, happy mood before bed, and it will help ensure you have a peaceful night's rest.
We have become a society where hard work is rewarded, and rest is frowned upon. Your body is far more important than your job because without your body, you wouldn't even have a job.
That email you woke up at 2 am to read and stress over will still be there at 6 am. Prioritize a good night's sleep. As Thomas Dekker said,
Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.