This post is sponsored by Nature’s Way.
Instead of focusing on perfection on the food and fitness front – I don’t think it exists and wouldn’t make life very fun – I do aim to be consistent wherever I can. I eat a pretty clean diet (with room for the fun stuff in there, too), exercise almost daily, drink a lot of water, and focus on ways to manage stress. No matter how consistent I am with the other aspects of the fitness puzzle, one portion is always hit or miss: sleep.
Sleep is when our body rebuilds and restores itself. I can have a huge impact on hunger and appetite – when we’re tired, we crave sugary sweets and carbs for an energy boost – on mood, and on stress levels. When you’re not sleeping enough, it can also encourage your body to hold onto fat. There are so many reasons to get in a full night of sleep, and sleep is one of my favorite things in the whole world. It’s a big reason why I wish I could get more!
My sleep issues are not really in my control. The girls wake me up pretty much every night – I thought it wouldn’t last forever but Liv will be 7 this year, so there ya go – and I’m still working on ways to get back to sleep once I’m up. Instead of focusing on the things I can’t control in regards to sleep, I try to think of about ways to cultivate a positive sleep environment and maximize the sleep time I have.
Here are some of my tips to get a good nights’ sleep:
– Exercise. Exercise increases our body temperature, which can lead to feelings of sleepiness hours later. It can also reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms, which may make it easier to relax and fall asleep. The days that I take off from the gym, I have a much harder time going to bed early. I don’t feel tired at night and have to force myself to head up to bed. In this study, researchers found that exercise may help those who suffer from insomnia.
– Even better: get outside. Time outside in the sunlight affects our circadian rhythm and can help our bodies to recognize that when the sun is up, we’re up, and when it’s down, we should be crashed. It’s helpful to open the blinds or curtains as soon as you’re awake to let natural sunlight in, and start to turn down lights and stimuli as it gets later.
– Turn off electronics before bed and try to keep them away from your bedroom. Electronics and any screens can negatively impact melatonin levels, making it more difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep.
– Have a bedtime routine. This is the same with kiddos: if you follow the same steps each night, your body will recognize that it’s time for sleep. I love having a short meditation session before bed and drinking something hot, like tea or almond milk hot cacao. Another one of my faves is a gratitude mantra: instead of counting sheep, take a big inhale, and on each exhale, think of something or someone you’re thankful for.
– Go to bed earlier! This can be one of the trickiest ones for me. I enjoy the solitude and quiet at night and instead of being an early bird to crush work stuff, I’m a night owl. Even though I use this time to work and enjoy a little relaxation, I still set my alarm to remind myself when it’s time to go to sleep.
– Possibly try a supplement if it works for you (and if you get your doctor’s ok, of course). I’ve been taking Valerian on and off for about 9 years. I’ve taken it in liquid form before, but prefer the Nature’s Way capsule since you can’t taste it. The Nature’s Way brand is free of artificial colors, ingredients, corn, gluten, soy, sugar, wheat, and yeast.
The nights I’m having trouble unwinding or feel like I won’t be able to sleep, I’m able to take a Valerian and get in a restful night. I also fall asleep much faster after the girls come into my room. I love Valerian because it’s entirely natural and if you don’t take it, you have zero withdrawal effects.
So, tell me friends: what are some of the things you do to get a full night’s sleep?
Photography by Jacquelynn Buck