I often find myself going through phases of energy during the year.
I’ll start the year with promise and fight against the January blues but then succumb to the winter after a couple of valiant weeks! The cold and darkness of the mornings in the new year eventually has me dreading getting up and staying in bed a minute or two longer than I should.
Spring and summer though, is completely different! I feel awake, alive and can’t wait to start and definitely feel a sense of newness. I get a renewed sense of hope, determination and discipline.
Basically, it’s like I’ve come out of hibernation.
I’m a different animal!
Like a bear or something!
I’m sure you know the feeling…
So it makes me question, how can we control this feeling? How can we stop getting caught up in the seasons? How can we feel great during my days all year round? Surely it’s a state of mind…
I examined myself in the summer and realised that it all starts with our sleep. Or ‘sleep hygiene’ to be precise, basically the collection of sleeping habits we keep.
So with us now well into the summer and fall on the horizon, I want to make sure we’re setting ourselves up for success to carry on the good summer energy levels by getting on top of our sleep.
So after some research and self questioning, I’ve distilled what I believe are personally, 10 keys to a great night’s sleep and therefore high energy levels throughout the day:
- Start with exercise
- Have a consistent routine
- Switch off technology
- Stop stimulants after 5pm
- Keep a cool, dark room.
- Use sounds.. or don’t!
- Relax the muscles
- Clear your mind
- Reinforce positive imagery
- Keep it comfortable
(BONUS – Have a social, feel good day!)
So let me briefly explain each one and add some explanation.
1 – Exercise first thing in the morning is something I’m sure you’ve heard before. It’s recommended because our metabolism is high and exercising at this time releases dopamine and serotonin at the earliest stage of our day. Why is this good? Well, these bad boys help regulate anxiety, happiness and mood, setting our day up for success.
2 – Routine I have found to be incredibly important. Not just in sleep but in every area of my life. The more repeatable and habitual I can make things the more success I see. Success is basically the compounded results of a bunch of small good actions i.e your routine, so sleep routines are no different. Examples of a good sleep routine can include reading a book, listening to soothing music or planning your to-dos for tomorrow. Consistency is key.
3 – Removing technology from your sleeping area is something we will likely find difficult at first. Our phones, tablets and laptops are such an integral part of our lives, (or so we allow them to be!) that we seamlessly take them to our beds. Having them away out of sight can greatly decrease the amount of stimulus we receive and help us unwind and relax our minds ready for sleep.
4 – Eating, drinking and even exercise needs to be very carefully considered when it comes to the affects on our sleep. These are all stimulants and can play havoc with our sleep if we’re not mindful of when and what we’re consuming. Anything within the last 2-5 hours of our day depending on the nature of the stimulant can have knock on affects so where possible, it is advisable to avoid caffeine, alcohol and even our chocolate (yup, that can contain caffeine too!)
5 – A nice cool temperature is ideal for sleeping because the body generates a lot of heat when it goes into rest mode. Keeping us cool will help keep us relaxed so keeping fans or the window open slightly may help. In addition to this darkness is very important and any light even something innocuous like a monitor light can affect your sleep so again, coming back to technology, if you can, try to unplug!
6 – Sounds, white noise, or a complete lack of depending on your preference are something to consider. Again this comes down to creating a relaxing environment and we all vary on this. There are apps and machines out there that can create artificial helpful noises to aid sleep while there are some of us that like complete silence. Find out what works for you and build it into your sleep routine.
7 – Sleep is all about relaxation and this not only means the mind but the body too. Warm baths, saunas, yoga and hot showers are just a few great ways to get ourselves relaxed and ready for the night. Again, find what’s practical for you to build into your routine and enjoy the process. For me, I love a hot shower and with one 30m before bed it makes it much easier to fall asleep quicker.
8 – This one is certainly a relevant one for me! My mind is so often racing with countless thoughts so for me this year I have found a journaling to be a great reliever of stress and a way to bring about mental calm and clarity. Sometimes it may be a cause of just jotting down a couple things, or it may turn into a page or two but either way, releasing your thoughts no matter how trivial they seem can greatly help relax the mind.
9 – Linking to journaling and clearing the mind, making sure that we go to bed with positive thoughts and imagery is incredibly powerful. For this I greatly recommend goal setting. I’ve found that writing out my goals after a journaling sessions helps focus the mind on inspiring things and I am easily then able to focus my mind on feel good things.
10 – Comfort cannot be underestimated! Whether you prefer to sleep with big fluffy pillows or thin ones, on your left or your right side, find what works for you. There are lot of great mattresses and pillows now that are built with comfort in mind and investing in a high quality bed set up – mattress, pillows, sheets is a ticket to long term sleeping bliss!
BONUS – Actually having an enjoyable day cannot be underestimated. When comparing the nature of my day and the affect it has on my sleep I often notice how my more pleasurable, productive and social days lead to better sleeps. Try for yourself and go and have yourself a great day and then measure how your sleep was that night.
A quality life = a quality sleep.
Well, there you have it!
This is MY top 10. Sure they may be other important ones that I may have missed but this is what I’ve found is important for me, and I’m sure if examined these can play an important role for you!
I’d love to hear what you think about these and which ones if any you’d add to this list!
Here’s to restful nights!