Go to sleep! Your body needs to recover! You can’t recover without good sleep!
You’ve probably heard the above statement multiple times. But, what rarely gets mentioned, is the importance of ‘sleep setup‘ — aka, how you use the hour before you hit they hay.
Here are a few simple ways you can maximize this hour and get more quality rest.
Yes, getting a good night’s rest begins in your head. Stop thinking about that conference call, your kids’ extracurricular activities and the deadline you have to meet tomorrow. This is the time to kickstart your melatonin, not your manic thoughts. Melatonin is your sleep hormone that is produced when your body notices that light is reducing.
So, as you start to wind down, it’s important to take small steps to initiate the production of this important hormone. This includes turning off your phone — better yet, try charging it up in a completely different room so it’s out of sight and out of mind. A recent study by Harvard Medical School revealed blue light can put you into a heightened state. So not only are you reducing your sleep hormones when you take your phone to bed, but your are actually energizing your brain and providing the opposite effect of what you are trying to do!
While the phone is down and your heart rate begins to slow, take time to reflect! This can involve writing in a journal, talking with your spouse or just simply sitting still and meditating. Intentionally reflect on your week and do a ‘personal check-in.’
Here are three questions to get you started…
1.) Who did I impact today?
2.) Who Impacted me today?
3.) What happened today that I am thankful for?
When you’re able to honestly answer these questions (and even write them down), you establish a sense of closure. Without that closure, it can be hard to move on from the day’s events and get rest. BONUS: This practice will also make you infinitely more present with your daily interactions.
Get old-fashioned and grab a book. Pick something simple — not too mentally stimulating, but just good enough to hold your attention. Reading before sleep is proven to reduce stress by distracting you from your day. It can also spark incredible creativity and, of course, increase your knowledge. I mean, come on, what better way to end your day then by gaining information about any given topic! Seriously, we don’t read nearly enough!
To sum it up, in order to get some quality shut-eye, you need to shut off your biological engine! You have to let your brain produce the hormones that allow it to shut down. Then, put a bow on your day by reflecting back on the good things that happened (however small sometimes). Once you’ve shut down your phone and moved past your day, grab a book and dive into a new world before dozing off into some amazing and restorative sleep.