10 ideas for Better Sleep

My first year out of my house, on my own, in college, was quite an adventure. I found I was unable to manage my stress levels, and started having panic attacks as a result. When the panic attacks started coming twice a day I sought help from a therapist. This is what she asked me in this order What kind of sleep are you getting? Are you eating and what are you eating? What is stressing you out and how can we help you cope with that? I learned so much about being healthy that year physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I learned how so much about myself as an individual and myself in relationships. I think I will write posts about all of these in the future but today I am going to focus on SLEEP.


Your body, mind, and emotions can fall apart so fast when you are not getting good sleep

1. No Electronics 1 hour before bed - I put this one first because it is something most people do and is  an easy fix. Basically the light from the screens (TV, iPad, Phone, Computer) will make it hard for you to fall asleep

2. Relaxing activities 30 min before bed - relaxing will look different for anyone but here are a few ideas... doing a puzzle (a real one not one on a device), reading a book, taking a bath, folding laundry, journaling, yoga/stretching, watching the sunset... give yourself time to wind down

3. Clear your Mind- if my mind is in a million places at once I grab a piece of paper, (or junk mail no need to be fancy or say you don't have anything to write on) and I write everything I'm thinking, it may be a list of things I need to do, something I don't want to forget, things that are stressing me out, feeling I have and then I let it go. I allow myself to stop thinking, stop feeling, and fall asleep. I can return to these things in the morning when I've had good rest. Sometimes PRAYER also helps me clear my mind, handing my problems over to God and asking for help, and peace.

4. Relax Body- Now that the mind is ready to sleep put the body to sleep, start at you feet and let go of all tension, relax your feet until you can hardly feel them any more, then move up your body, I am always surprised when I get to my face my jaw is usually clenched and releasing that feels so good, I also find I was unaware of my hands being balled into fists, and releasing that tension all the way to my finger tips is so soothing.

5. Go to a Safe Place- Now I usually don't make it to this phase, I usually fall asleep before this point. but if you are still awake go to a safe soothing place in your mind. This may sound a little hippyish, but my therapist sent me to this sleep workshop that was amazing. At the workshop they hooked me up to a machine that could read stress levels in my body, then they had me listen to this tape that had me envision different things, when it was done they showed me the results they showed me all my triggers the one that I found the most fascinating is for me I shouldn't think of people at night or bring them into my "safe place" my safe place is usually riding on a train by myself looking out the window, for others it may be painting a landscape, or decorating a house, or counting sheep jumping over a fence, whatever is relaxing and doesn't require a lot of concentration. It sounds weird but try it.

6. No Food or Water 1 hour before bed- don't go to bed hungry but make sure you have eaten and are well hydrated before bed time rolls around. Give your digestive system a break and let it wind down

7. Bed is only for sleeping- don't spend all day in bed while you are awake, make your brain associate bed with sleep. Take the TV out of your room, not only is it breaking tip number 2 but your bedroom isn't a place to be entertained its a place to sleep. Also tip number 2, I try not to do my relaxing activity in bed, I will read in a comfy chair and then move to my bed to sleep. I am conditioning my brain when I lay in my bed it means time to sleep, this takes time but with consistency and routine, your body will instantly relax, your brain instantly turn off when you start your routine and it sees your bed.

8. Enviornment- LIGHT-make sure you are sleeping in a dark room, I'd even suggest having a clock that doesn't give off light or covering the light when you sleep. NOISE- if there is alot of noise, get a sound machine. COMFORT- make sure you warm/cool enough not hot or cold. make sure your bed and pillow are offering your body enough support, and so on... just make sure your comfortable and if your not think of a solution

9. Work Hard- This has two meanings. First, if you are having trouble sleep think about adding exercise to your daily routine, a tired body sleeps better. Second, make sure you are feeling your days with things that make you feel accomplished, it is always harder to go to bed after a lazy day because our souls crave progression

10. Rise and Fall with the Sun- not a popular idea, but have found truth in this statement I don't know why, maybe it's just how we are made but I know sleep from 9:00PM-5:00AM feels like a lot more sleep then sleep from 12:00MIDNIGHT-8:00AM. Even thought they are both 8 hours of sleep, the one that alines closer to the sun feels more refreshing, again I'm going to invite you to try it.

THIS APPLYS TO KIDS TO!!! Parents out there that need help putting their kids, or teenagers to bed. This applies to them, make sure they have full belly's, that they had opportunities to get their energy out, that they have a solid routine that doesn't include electronics, that they have time to wind down and they are comfortable while sleeping. KIDS AREN'T BORN GOOD SLEEPERS none of us are. I truly believe we have to teach ourselves to sleep and I think one of the best things you can do for your children to help them in the future, cope with stress, live on their own, and be successful, is teach them how to have good sleep.

This advice sounds simple and you might have been looking for something grand, but the answers are usually in the simple things we do. I would encourage you to TRY all of these ideas, if you have tried all of these ideas and have executed them perfectly for weeks, developing a solid routine, and are still struggling, I would suggest getting some help.

How do you get better sleep? Share ideas that could help someone in the comments

*also I wanted to add that I am not perfect in following these rules, but when I am struggling I know exactly how to fix it.