Seeking Sleep

woman with her head in her hands in fetal position on bed

One of our first requests in the ‘What do you want to do’ box came from a reader who expressed having a hard time motivating themselves to get out of bed, have a shower, start their day, and get on with the rest of it.  We’re going to address this question in three blog posts. Yesterday we focussed on some general tips for doing to support your mental health and wellbeing. Today we will bring you some sleep hygiene and wake-up tips. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on grief.

woman with her head in her hands in fetal position on bed

So why are we talking about sleep? According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, sleep is one our essential needs for motivation and wellbeing. We need sleep to feel energized. When we don’t get enough sleep, we can have a harder time processing our emotions, paying attention, remembering what we need to remember, and thinking clearly. This can have a broader impact on your participation in your other meaningful occupations.

Here are 2 guiding questions that we encourage you to use when exploring your own sleep habits:

  • How is your sleep overall?
    1. Are you going to bed at a consistent time? If not, when would you like to go to bed each night? What makes the most sense for you?
    2. How many hours of sleep do you get each night? How many do you typically need?
    3. How many hours are restful?
    4. What does your ideal bedtime routine look like?
      1. What do you find relaxing as you get ready for bed?
  • What does your ideal wake-up routine look like?
    1. When do you want to wake up every day? 
    2. What wakes you up in a way that you like to wake up?
    3. What is something that helps you feel invigorated and awake? 

Now, here are  7 Sleep strategies that you may find helpful for improving your sleep and wakefulness:

  1. Consistency is key: Be consistent in your bedtime and wake-up time. It’s often easiest to start resetting your body’s sleep-wake cycles with your wake-up time first. Some people find it helps to set a time to start their bedtime routine too.
  2. Hello Mr. Sun! When you wake up, seek bright light to help your body recognize it’s time to get up and get going.
  3. A place for relaxation and love: Try and associate your bed and bedroom as much as possible as a place for sleep and sex only. Keeping your room dark and cool (<18 degrees) may make it easier for you to fall asleep.
  4. Leave your screens behind (outside your bedroom): Not only can the blue light give you a false sense of wakefulness, with all the news and social media, you may find your thoughts start to race and that it’s harder to shut off your brain to sleep.
  5. Are you having a hard time falling asleep or waking up frequently? If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes of waking up, try getting out of bed and do something relaxing until you do feel sleepy again, then head back to bed, sleepyhead.
  6. Fuel yourself for sleep: Limit your coffee after 3 PM and limit your fluid intake before bed. Do have a light snack if you’re feeling hungry before bed (i.e. banana, yoghurt)
  7. Naps – in general, we tend to do our best when we have one period of sleep/day. Naps can interrupt our sleep pattern and make it harder to fall and stay asleep. If you do need to nap, try to limit it to 30 minutes and consistently schedule it several hours before your regular bedtime. 

And 6 fun ideas for boosting your wake-up routine:

  1. Do you want/need a loud alarm? Do you like to jump up out of bed quickly? Or do you prefer to wake to calm sounds, a warm tea, and gently ease yourself into the day?  Or somewhere in between?
  2. Some people find it motivating to label their wake-up alarm with their goal for the morning; others find that too stressful. Choose what works right for you. 
  3. Is there a wake-up meditation that you like and find motivating? Some people find this comforting or helps them build their confidence to start the day.
  4. Does it help you to know what your plan is for the day ahead when you wake up? If so, build a daily plan for doing before you go to bed. 
  5. Is there a mood-boosting song, that makes you feel pumped up? If so, add it to your morning routine.
  6. Get some fresh air – connecting with nature can soothe the soul and help you feel ready for the day.

cartoon night window + cartoon day window with bed with sleeping woman in between

Fill-in-the-blank:

The next step that I can take to improve my sleep and wakefulness is: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.

I know that this is possible for me because:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

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