We all know that sleep is essential for both our mental and physical health.
Did you know that just by prioritizing your sleep and setting boundaries, your chance of getting better quality sleep just exponentially improved?
Setting clear boundaries in certain areas of our lives may be what you need in order to sleep better.
I get it, everyone needs you so it’s not possible for you to set boundaries. I’ve been there believing I needed to be available 24 / 7 for my children, my parents and my work.
I was able to set some boundaries while being clear on my reason behind them and everyone respects them. You can too!
Here are 3 areas of your life you could look at right now and see if you could set some small boundaries.
It’s easy to do extra work now that many of us are working from home. Setting clear boundaries around your working hours will allow for other team members and your supervisor to know when you’ll be available and when your work day is over. That way you’ll be able to transition from work mode back into home life mode easily and not feel the need to constantly be looking at your emails in the evening.
If needed, having a conversation with your supervisor about this new boundary might be necessary. That way everyone can be on the same page.
Family members in our homes.
Let them know you’ve decided to set a bedtime routine for yourself and during this time, you are not available. Make them aware of your decision to set this boundary and the reason why it’s important to you.
If you’ve always been the person they go to when they need anything, then it might take a bit of time for them to get adjusted to your new boundaries. But they will get used to it and ask for help earlier in the day. If they forget and come to you after the agreed time, then gently remind them that it’s your time now and it can wait until tomorrow.
Of course, if it’s an emergency you will definitely help them. But if it can wait, then make them wait. You are taking responsibility for your sleep and it’s important.
People outside of your household.
I often hear, “yeah but my kids don’t live at home or my parents are in assisted living facilities, what if they need me at night?”
Have a conversation with them. Let them know that you are now prioritizing your sleep and that after a certain time, you won’t be available to them, unless it’s an emergency. Come up with a plan together of how they’ll contact you if it’s an emergency(or if required). And also, get clear on what you consider an emergency so they know when to call on you or when to wait for the next day.
Hint: you can set your phone on “do not disturb” and select which calls you want to be allowed. That way you won’t miss a true emergency when you are needed.
I know, you might think people won’t respect your boundaries. But it is up to you to set them and stick to them. You can do it. I know it.
If you need help setting boundaries and/or help figuring out what is getting in the way of your sleep, book your Optimal Sleep assessment today.
I’ve had a few clients show up lately all with the same issue. They are unable to relax enough to get a full night of sleep. One in particular can feel her nervous system activating as she gets ready for bed.
What is going on?
Well, it’s not our natural state for us to be able to relax. Our nervous system is built in such a way to be on alert all the time to look out for danger and keep us safe.
And in today’s world, we are no longer talking about a tigger jumping out of the woods and attacking us. It’s the rush of our lives that keeps our nervous system in a state of fight or flight.
To understand this you need to look at human brain development and observe some basic elements. One major feature is our instinct to survive.
Our natural state is to maintain our sense of alertness in order to protect ourselves.
Relaxation implies that we let down our guard. It means turning off our internal system that is meant to keep us alert in order to keep us safe. This translates itself in today’s world as the items we didn’t accomplish on our to-do list. Or the emails we didn’t have time to reply to. Or all the chores we need to do at home for our family. Or the dishwasher that needs to be unloaded. Or the laundry that needs to be put away. You get the picture?
Unfortunately, our natural built-in system does not come with an on – off switch. It is hard wired and always working. Therefore, when we try to relax, we are often unable to.
So, how do you relax and can anything be done to achieve a relaxed state?
The answer is a “yes”. It can be done. However, your expectations need to be realistic. When you haven’t been able to relax in a long time, it’s going to take time to retrain your nervous system to recognize the state of relaxation.
Your first step is recognizing that you aren’t easily able to relax and then making the choice to change your daily behaviours in order for your nervous system to learn what it feels like to relax. Just like any new skill you are building, small daily consistent actions will do the trick.
Here are a few ways you can train your brain to relax:
EFT/tapping. At its core, it is known as a stress management technique. Most people who do just a few minutes of tapping will feel a sense of calm come over them. Do this on a regular basis and you are training your nervous system to relax.
Meditate. Countless studies are now suggesting that meditation practices have the potential to balance our nervous system settings and help us deal with stress.
Exercise. Exercising like running or walking can help to reduce the feelings of anxiety and clear space in your head.
Because sleep powers the mind and restores the body. It’s what we need to function at our best each day.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, young adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep and older adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
Are you getting in those hours?
I’ve been reading Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits and I was pleased to read he also prioritizes his sleep. He realizes that in order to perform well in your life, you need sleep.
Here is a quote from his book found on page 115.
“Well, I’ve become successful sleeping only five hours, so sleep isn’t a factor for me”.
And then his next though was:
“Imagine how much MORE successful I would be with just two more hours of sleep.”
Goosebumps…. He’s right. How much MORE could I accomplish towards my dreams and goals if I prioritize my sleep? I know for me, it has changed my life in amazing ways. I am able to have better relationships with my family, be more present in my life and it has allowed me to be more creative with what I choose to do with my waking hours, because I am rested and ready for anything I set my mind to.
Our bodies are able to function on 5 to 6 hours of sleep. That’s because when we are in Stage 3 / 4 sleep our physical body is restoring itself. And this stage of sleep happens more during the beginning of the night.
When we decide to cut our sleep short by only sleeping 5 to 6 hours, we are cutting down on our REM sleep. Our REM sleep happens more towards the end of the night. It’s during REM sleep that the magic happens. It’s where our mental restoration happens.
Imagine, if you only slept another hour or two how much more rested your mind would be. A better rested mind allows you to be more alert and aware. You’ll be able to concentrate better and feel less foggy. You’ll be able to be present in your life and in the life of others around you.
You don’t have to believe me, try it out for yourself. Start prioritizing your sleep and see how much better your life can get.
Today I want to talk to you about what to do when you’ve tried all the tips and tricks you’ve gotten from everyone and you still can’t sleep.
Do you feel completely exhausted and alone in your sleep struggles? Feeling like no one can understand you because they can sleep so easily while you lay there getting more and more frustrated that it’s one more night without sleep.
Is that you?
It was me a few years ago. Well, ok, maybe I didn’t follow exactly all the steps listed in the article, but I tried a lot of them. And nothing worked.
Because my nervous system was activated beyond the point where I could control it to bring it back into a calm state. I was under a lot of stress. Living in what they call “the fight or flight” response all day and all night. I didn’t have any coping skills to release this stress from my body. And when I would go to bed at night, I had not processed all my emotions from the day because I was too busy “doing” stuff and not enough time taking care of myself.
My words during this difficult time in my life were: “If I just had an off switch for my brain, then I could sleep”.
Sleep hygiene did not give me that “off switch” I needed in order to be able to calm my nervous system enough to go to sleep.
I needed to find something, anything that would help me “switch off” my brain for the night and find sleep again.
And then I discovered tapping. This tool changed my sleep, helped me “switch off” my brain and then my whole life changed in extraordinary ways.
Tapping, at its core, is known as a stress reduction technique. It seeks to address imbalances within the person’s energy system, as well as the energetic influences of thoughts, beliefs, and emotions in the body.
When we add tapping to our daily routine, we can start retraining our nervous system to cope with the stress as it is happening in the moment. Training our nervous system to be in a more calm and relaxed state. What is known as the “rest and digest” state.
By acknowledging and creating awareness around the truth we are currently living (for me the extreme stress I was under every single day), we give ourselves permission to feel those emotions, thoughts, and beliefs and start shifting them into a more positive energy. We are learning how to turn the switch off when needed.
We are so busy being “Human DOINGS” with our to do list. Never taking the time to acknowledge our emotions. We live life on autopilot. I encourage you to start being a “Human BEING” and take a few minutes each day to sit with your emotions and release them, using tapping.
If I ask you the question “What would it take for you to have a good quality restorative sleep?”, what would you answer?
That is a big question and most of us don’t know how to answer that.
Our current lifestyle doesn’t always give us enough time to sleep. And some of us choose to cut back on sleep in order to get one more thing done in our busy hectic schedule. We believe by doing more we can reduce the stress we feel because we will have one less thing on our to do list for tomorrow. But instead, by cutting back on sleep, we are actually creating more stress in our lives by being tired and unable to think clearly because of exhaustion.
We do this without realizing how important sleep is. We NEED quality sleep in order to function at our best. Our body needs it. Our brain needs it. You could even say that the people around you need it since we will be in a better mood :).
But what if I can’t sleep? No matter what I do, sleep just doesn’t happen?
I’ve been there and I understand how frustrating and complicated it can be to try to find sleep again.
But if you ask yourself the question, “What would it take for me to have good quality restorative sleep?” What would your answer be?
I want you to think of this question and answer it by looking at two things.
What can I change in my physical environment to help me sleep?
What can I change in my emotional environment to help me sleep?
The answer will be different for everyone since we all have our unique challenges.
But the questions that I always come back to is “What would it take for me to have good quality restorative sleep?” Because I know that without sleep, my life is miserable. I can’t think clearly, I can’t function. The negative side of me comes out by complaining about my lack of sleep. I play the victim of my life instead of living my best life. And the reason for my negative moods is usually all because I didn’t sleep well. For those of you who can’t get a good night sleep, you know what I mean.
So what would it take for YOU to sleep soundly so it can be restorative and refreshing. What would it take for you to commit to doing whatever it takes to figure out what is getting in the way of your sleep. Once you reclaim your sleep, you’ll be able to reclaim the life you are meant to live. Full of energy, joy and fun.
When I ask myself that question, these are my answers:
On the material/physical side:
No coffee after lunch time since I am sensitive to caffeine. Did you know that 50% of that caffeine is still floating in your brain 7 to 8 hours after you finished that cup of coffee?
I am consistent with my bedtime and wake up time.
I add movement in my day. I ensure I do a minimum of 30 minutes of movement every day. On the days I don’t move, I don’t sleep as well and it’s a reminder to move the next day.
On the emotional/mindset side:
I CHOOSE to make sleep a priority. We all have that choice but it’s not always easy if our mindset believes we don’t.
I keep my stress and overwhelm under control. I have an overactive brain and my brain loves to think all the time. Being organized and not taking on too many projects at one time helps control the stress and overwhelm.
I do a check in with myself before bed and I will ask myself “Am I ready for sleep? Is anything going to pop up in my mind during the night I didn’t deal with?”. If it’s something I don’t want to forget, I write it down (I always have pen and paper by my bed). If it’s emotions, I use EFT tapping on those emotions before bed so I can clear them.
I’ll ask the question one last time. What would it take for you to have a good quality restorative sleep?
In the book Getting Back to Happy from Marc & Angel Chernoff, they have a chapter about goals and rituals. I was listening to the book on Audible during my morning walk when they started talking about how important goals and rituals are in our lives. It really got me thinking of my sleep goals and how I use small daily rituals to help me accomplish my goals. It was confirmation for me that what I am doing is working and to keep doing it.
We never put our kids to bed and just expect them to fall asleep. We usually create a bedtime routine (rituals) for them. We give them a nice warm bath, a bedtime snack, cuddle them and/or read them a bedtime story. From these rituals, our children’s mind and body know when it’s time to fall asleep.
But for some reason, as adults, we forget about those bedtime rituals that really help us sleep better. We expect to be doing chores, be on the computer, read or watch tv until the last second before sleep. And then we wonder why we can’t just flip a switch and fall asleep. We haven’t prepared ourselves for sleep. Having a bedtime routine cues or mind and body that sleep is coming. While we sleep, both our physical body and mental body rejuvenates themselves, giving us energy the next day to be able to live a full and happy life.
What are my sleep goals?
To get 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
To keep a consistent bedtime routine as much as possible, even on weekends.
To get good quality restorative sleep.
To wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Most of you know that it wasn’t always like that for me. I suffered from lack of sleep for several years. I resorted to sleeping pills to get a few hours of sleep and coffee to function during the day. I could only sustain that for a few years before my body decided it was no longer going to be able to keep up that lifestyle. Since then, sleep has been my number one priority. When I don’t sleep enough or don’t get good quality sleep, I don’t feel well physically and mentally. I never want to feel that way again.
My desire is to wake up each morning rested and full of energy. To be able to do that, I need to get good quality restorative sleep every night. In their book, they say “The Universe isn’t going to make your desires come true. You are.” That is so true. How do I make my desires come true? I follow daily rituals…
Rituals: Practice Daily What You Want to Manifest Regularly.
Carve out a little time every day to focus on the things that matter most, and the benefits will return to you exponentially.
When we focus on the small daily rituals we don’t even realize how much work we are putting into our goals. It feels easy and doable and it becomes part of our routine. The next thing we know, we are achieving our perfect sleep every night and our lives change for the better. Because without sleep, nothing else works right.
What sleep rituals can you come up with that will help you sleep better?
Here are some rituals I’ve created for myself:
I leave my cell phone out of the bedroom.
I actually put it on “do not disturb” at 8:30 p.m. and leave it in the living room or kitchen. I have it programmed that only my parents’, husband’s or kid’s numbers will ring if they call me. They all know it needs to be an emergency after that time if they call or text. By leaving my phone in another room, I won’t be tempted to just look at one more thing and realize half an hour later that I wasted that much time browsing Facebook.
Turn off electronics 1 hour before bedtime.
This includes my laptop. I do have one exception to this. Once a week I meet with a wonderful group of women and we are on zoom from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm sharing our dreams and goals. This group brings a lot of joy into my life so I make the exception. All other nights, by 8:30 pm I try to be done on my electronic devices.
Moving our body is such a great stress and energy release. I try to walk most mornings (weather permitting). During my walk, I listen to audiobooks. It’s a way for me to catch up on any books I haven’t been able to read and move my body at the same time.
Practice mindfulness daily.
This can be journaling, tapping, daily gratitude or meditating. Being more mindful reduces our stress level, which can improve the quality of our sleep.
Reduce my caffeine intake.
I never have caffeine after lunch. Once I learned that 50% of the caffeine is still floating in our brain 7 hours after we consumed it, it was easy for me to no longer have that coffee after lunch. Just that one change has improved my sleep so much. Once in a while I forget about this and have coffee in the afternoon and it reminds me how sensitive I am to caffeine.
Reduce Alcohol intake.
Alcohol too close to bedtime interferes with your REM sleep. REM sleep is when your mental restoration happens. I do like a glass of wine once in a while, but I make sure to stop drinking as early as possible so the alcohol has time to move through my system before I go to bed.