Monday, January 23, 2017

7 Ways to Make Sleep Feel Like Self Care (Because it IS)



Welcome back to another week of self care topics!  I've got a lot planned for us this week, and I'm excited to share more ways for us to treat ourselves right!

A few months ago, I attended a seminar on lifestyle medicine.  For those of you that may not be familiar with that term, it's used to describe the practice of an increasing number of general practitioners who are asking patients to make lifestyle changes before they will prescribe medication (or in conjunction with medication).  In fact, lifestyle as medicine is now believed to prevent as much as 80% of chronic disease (Katz, 2016), so more and more doctors are encouraging patients with a genetic predisposition to certain health problems to proactively and preemptively change their lifestyle as a way to prevent these issues.

There is a lot we could focus on (and probably will in the future!) regarding lifestyle medicine.  Today, however, I want to discuss a topic The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a public health epidemic.  Any guesses?

Insufficient sleep.

Crazy, right?  But if we're honest, most of us will admit that when we're busy, stressed, frustrated, or anxious, sleep is one of the first things we neglect.  But experts argue that sleep is emerging as so potent a factor in better health that we need a societal shift - and policies to support it; they feel that sleep needs to be made a nonnegotiable priority (Park, 2015).

So, if you are like many and sleep eludes you at times, or you simply do not make it a priority, allow your Self Care Bestie to be of service.  Here is a list of 7 simple steps you can take to prioritize sleep and increase the quality of your sleep, starting tonight:

1.  Try some yoga just before bed.  Certain poses are believed to relax you and promote sleepiness.

2.  Take a warm bath before bed.  The science behind this is that when you artificially raise your body temperature in the tub, your body temp then begins to rapidly cool, sending your brain the message that it's time to sleep.  This is one of my favorite pre-bedtime forms of self care!

3.  Sip something soothing like chamomile tea.  For more info on soothing teas that can ease your mind and promote sleep, read this.

4.  Try a sleep mask.  I'm not talking about a CPAP machine used to treat sleep apnea (though if you suspect this is a problem for you, you should see your doctor immediately!).  I'm talking about that little fabric/elastic combo you wear over your eyes to block the light out.  Even a little bit of light can send signals to our brain that it's not time to sleep, so give a mask a try and see if you don't snooze a little more soundly.

5.  Use essential oils to induce sweet dreams stat.  Most people are aware that lavender essential oil can help you sleep better, but I'm a big fan of this DIY sleep salve which utilizes a combination of oils...you put it on your feet and soon you're in dreamland.  Plus, it smells amazing!

6.  Read before bed.  Snuggle into bed with a good book and soon you'll be drowsy, no matter how much of a page-turner it is.  Reading before bed is way more likely to promote sleep than TV or a movie, so how 'bout saving that Netflix and chill for the weekend, mmkay?

7.  Focus your mind on something besides sleep or lack thereof.  My favorite way to do this is with meditation, and specifically visualization, which I discussed here.

I hope these help you make sleep feel a little more indulgent, and a little more like self care, because it IS.  It's one of THE most important things you can do for your mind and body.  I encourage you to commit to trying one of these ideas tonight, or better yet, challenge yourself to try one idea each day for a week.  Sweet dreams, my friends!


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