Did you know that humans are the only mammals that delay sleep? Some of us choose to “get by” on a few hours each night despite it being vital to our overall well being. In this post I’m going to get into the importance of sleep. My intention is for you to begin prioritizing it in a new light. I’m also going to offer some tips to give you the best quality sleep (in case you need them).
When I started thinking about this post, I quickly realized it needs to be a two part series. This one is all about the benefits of sleep and the importance of it. The next is how to leverage sleep in order to manifest the life you desire. I’ve met people who almost felt like it was a badge of honor to go without the least amount of sleep. As if they could prove something to themselves for being able to “manage” with little to no sleep.
Personally, I’ve always prioritized it because I physically can’t function without at least 7 hours. With that being shared, I do want to acknowledge that there’s different seasons in life in which sometimes we don’t have the luxury to sleep a full 7+ hours every night. One of those main ones is motherhood, especially postpartum. Others can be during major life transitions such as adjusting to a new career, college life, even grief etc. So honor the season you’re in and when you’re able to, work on making sleep a priority once again.
Benefits of sleep
When it comes to the importance of sleep, you can find the most evidence when looking into its health benefits. Adults should get around 7 hours of quality sleep each night according to the U.S Dept of Health and Human Services. During sleep, your body gets restored in so many ways. Getting quality sleep reduces your chances of getting sick. It also helps manage a healthy body weight.
“Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness and mood,” according to sleep expert Dr. Merrill Mitler.
Some other benefits of sleep include but are not limited to:
- clearer thinking, better decision making
- regulates blood sugar
- improves relationships bc you’re less tense and stressed
- cell repair
- improved focus and memory
- fights infections
Chronic lack of sleep can cause serious health issues such as diabetes and even depression and anxiety according to the Sleep Foundation. During sleep, your heart rate slows down and sleep allows the heart and vascular system to rest. Therefore, a chronic lack of sleep can lead to heart disease or other heart issues. I’m sure you notice a huge difference in how you feel when you don’t sleep well. You probably feel irritable, “out of it” and may have experienced impaired reaction time. It is so dangerous to drive like this or attempt to function with little to no sleep so do your best to avoid it.
How to get quality sleep
Now that you know the importance of sleep, I want to share how to get some quality sleep. If you struggle with this, first, sit for a minute and think about the actual thing preventing you from sleeping. For example, some people might have too much on their mind, therefore, they have a hard time falling asleep. Others might have a hard time getting physically comfortable enough to fall asleep. If you struggle with the former, try “brain dumping” your thoughts on paper or on a phone note to free up that space in your brain. Sometimes we have to -do lists and other things taking up space so practicing releasing those thoughts before bed can help. You can also try listening to a guided sleep meditation if you’re having a hard time falling asleep.
If you have a difficult time getting physically comfortable before falling asleep, try lowering the temperature so you can be cool (not cold lol). Also dim the lights a few hours before bed to begin calming your mind. Another tip is to discontinue using electronics before bed. The blue light can affect your eyes making it difficult to fall asleep. You can get special glasses to block this out or change the setting on your phone to “night mode” too. Continue reading for other tips on how to get quality sleep.
Quality sleep begins way before bedtime
Avoid eating heavy meals, drinking alcohol or caffeine a few hours before bed. (Personally, I can’t drink caffeine past noon otherwise I won’t be able to fall asleep at night). You know your body so try out different things to see what works for you. Your body works hard to digest your food so give it plenty of time to do this hours before you go to bed.
Exercise can also help improve your sleep. However, avoid heavy lifting right before bed because that can actually keep you up at night. Only 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise can make a difference in your quality of sleep according to John Hopkins Medicine. You can also try “yoga nidra,” a type of guided meditation where you scan your body into a relaxed state of consciousness.
Focus on your environment
Your environment can make the biggest difference for you getting some good sleep. Use blackout curtains to block out any light from coming in so that your room can be as dark as possible (if that’s what you prefer). If you don’t want to sleep in complete darkness, use a plug-in light or something similar. Make sure you feel safe in your room as well however that looks like for you. Personally, I always lock my bedroom door before sleeping even if I currently only live with my dog lol.
Once you recognize the importance of sleep, investing in a comfortable mattress or making plans to save up for one will come easily to you. We spend one third of our lives sleeping so why not choose to have the best bed possible. When it comes to value spending, this is a valuable item on the list, in my opinion, considering you’ll use it literally every night. If you can’t currently afford a new bed or mattress, try getting a comfy mattress topper, get a weighted blanket, or comfortable pillows for now.
Finally, set the mood for your sleep. You can listen to soothing music if that calls out to you. I used to use a white noise machine each night in the past to block out any noise. If you want to incorporate your sense of smell, try aromatherapy. Add lavender, chamomile or whichever essential oil you prefer to a diffuser to help you unwind.
Create a bedtime routine so that your brain gets accustomed to your chosen sleep schedule. This means going to bed at or around the same time each night. Some of the things you can do before bed are to discontinue using any electronics a few hours before your desired bedtime. Try reading a book before bed instead. If you have a difficult time falling asleep after reading in bed, read somewhere else in your home. The more you associate sleep exclusively with your bed, the easier falling asleep will be.
You can also take a warm shower at the end of your day as a way to begin unwinding. Not only will you physically cleanse yourself from being out and about during your whole day, but showering can serve as energetically cleansing yourself. View the water as the element removing all of the day’s energies off of you. After your shower, you can gently stretch before bed to allow your body to continue unwinding after your day.
Finally, you can drink a calming herbal tea or warm milk a few hours before bed to bring your body a sense of relaxation. My current bedtime routine involves showering, writing a gratitude list, a brief skincare routine using my gua sha, then visualizing before falling asleep. It can be as short or long as you prefer.
One final thought I have on the importance of sleep is to be gentle with yourself. You know by now that I encourage you to prioritize sleep if you don’t do so already but you know yourself the most. I trust you’ll do what’s best for you. It can take time to create your bedtime routine that helps you get quality sleep but it is worth the effort. Your body will thank you. And of course, you are worthy of sleeping 7+ hours and living a life full of health and vitality!
Let me know your thoughts on this post! Did I miss any tips? Feel free to DM me on Instagram at any time. Also, follow me on Tik Tok! Yes, your girl is on there now. And finally, make sure you sign up for my newsletter so you never miss a blog post or other things I’m up to! Thank you for reading!!
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