5 Ways to Start Sleeping Better

Like most people, I love to sleep, but I haven’t always been a great sleeper. These days my head hits the pillow and I’m out, but those nights when I just couldn’t fall asleep no matter how tired I felt really stunk. I hate the feeling of being tired but wired, or being wide awake, tossing and turning, and unable to get my mind to rest. With our modern world’s media obsession, I absolutely believe we aren’t sleeping as well as we used to, and that technology is a huge factor. I’ve certainly always been that person dicking around on my phone or computer or watching tv or listening to music right before bed, but quality sleep is so important that I’ve changed my ways. Here are some tips to improve your beauty regimen and better your sleep:

1- Turn your cellphone off at night. Ok, do not panic cellphone-addicted readers… Want better sleep?  Then turn your phone off at night!

Our phones produce a light that triggers our brains to stay awake, thus disrupting the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle (source: Sleep Foundation). This causes tension in the body that releases the stress hormone cortisol, especially if you’re doing something like playing a video game or checking your email. Cortisol triggers the body into “fight of flight” mode, which can negatively impact sleep. I always encourage my clients to get in the habit of powering down their devices (computers, tablets and televisions included) at least one hour before bed to get their brains to shut down for sleep mode. I’ve done this experiment myself and found that I do, in fact, sleep better. And when you get better sleep, it makes it that much easier to make healthier choices throughout the day. For example, do you find that when you’re tired and lazy you go for easy food options, like pizza or pre-made sandwiches versus a healthy meal? We look for foods with sugar or caffeine to give us that temporary boost of energy, but temporary is the operative word here because this type of energy does not sustain.

2- Create a nighttime routine. There are so many ways to relax before bedtime, it’s just a matter of finding what works best for you. I definitely recommend cutting back on sugar and caffeine, especially later in the day. Some other ideas to relax include: stretching, giving yourself a little self-massage, drinking something warm and soothing, reading (not on a device!), or journaling. Journaling before bed is ideal and therapeutic because it gives you the opportunity to let out all the stresses and thoughts bouncing around your head that could potentially keep you awake at night. I spend that time reflecting on my day, writing down what I’m grateful for, and like I said, just writing whatever is on my mind. One other thing I’ve found that works wonders for me is using essential oils. Lavender oil in particular is intended for relaxing, so I will put a little dab of the oil on my pillow or in my oil diffuser to get me bed-ready. Lavender eye pillows are also very soothing.

3- Blackout. Don’t get too excited, I’m not talking about drinking yourself to sleep. Black out your room at night so that as little light as possible is showing. That includes any lights inside or outside your room, which may also include night-lights or those little blinking lights from your wireless modem or whatnot. The darker your room, the better.

4- Silence! Same idea as #1 and #3. Just like light, sounds are distracting and keep your brain active, so try not to fall asleep with a movie or music still on. If so inclined, you could invest in a white noise maker. If sound is something you can’t control, such as noises from the street or a noisy roommate, ear plugs might be helpful.

5- Get naked. Cooler temperatures trigger the “let’s sleep now” response in your body, so while you could go light on the comforter or heat, I prefer to sleep naked. This also gives your body a chance to breath and to get in a more relaxed state, since sleeping overheated can also negatively affect your cortisol levels. High cortisol affects other aspects of your health, like anxiety levels, weight gain, unhealthy food cravings, etc.images

 

 

Want to get even better beauty sleep and health? Visit my website and schedule a complimentary health coaching consultation with me so we can find out what works best for your lifestyle.

Keeping Up With Your New Years Resolutions

New Years Resolutions are a funny thing. It’s as if we wait all year to make promises to ourselves to be our best selves- to work harder, exercise more often, eat better, drink less- that, let’s be real, do not last long. We should really be making these self-improvement goals every day of our lives, but instead we believe that the start of a new year will bring real change. Wouldn’t it be nice to stay true to your goals without the stress or self-sabotage?  Yes, of course it would, but this can be challenging! Here are some tips to help keep you on course with your resolutions and health goals throughout the new year:

Create realistic and specific goals.

People often rush to set their resolution, and even more often want to make a big change in their lives (quit smoking, loose so-and-so many pounds) instead of setting realistic, planned out, step by step goals. When you don’t give yourself enough time to plan out your resolutions, you are not setting yourself up for success. To make a goal truly doable, one needs a thought-out plan of action based on self-reflection and understanding.

Remember learning about SMART goals?  SMART goals can be used as a guideline to form top-notch goals.  SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. It is important to answer the questions “who, what, where, which, when, why” when planning your goals. Who do you need to surround yourself with to achieve this goal?  Is it a gym buddy, or just a friend who can hold you accountable?  What do you want to accomplish? Where do you need to be to work towards your goal? Identify a location and establish a time frame in which this goal will take place. Which requirements and restraints will you face? And why are you working toward this goal in the first place? Are the details of the goal realistic? Nailing down the specifics will make it much easier to get what you want. Here is an example to help:

 

  • Specific = I want to get to my optimal weight. I’ll schedule accountability calls with my friend for five minutes every Friday evening.
  • Measurable = I will drop 8 lbs in the next six months.
  • Attainable = I will accomplish this goal by cutting out soda and all packaged food and by walking for 30 minutes five days/week outside.
  • Realistic = This goal is something I can accomplish within the set timeframe.
  • Time = Accomplish this six months from today.

Make the necessary preparations.

Once you’ve set your specific game plan, it is now time to take the steps toward success. Depending on your resolution, this could mean emptying the pantry of all processed foods and sugar, or maybe it’s getting your gym membership before your intended start date for your new workout schedule. I can’t stress enough how key it is to find people either with similar goals who you can surround yourself with, or people who will be a good source of support. One of the reasons why people tend to fall short of their goals is because there is no support system in place. It is a lot easier to give up or flake on yourself when you feel you’re working alone. Even scheduling a five minute call once a week with an accountability partner can do the trick.

Do not create resolutions that overly restrict yourself.

This goes back to lesson 1: create realistic goals.  It’s nice in theory to think that you can go from eating chocolate every day to never touching it again, but this probably isn’t realistic. If you over restrict yourself this can be a recipe for self-sabotage (think late night ice cream binges) or can just cause disruption with your endocrine system from too much stress. Instead of going overboard and completely depriving yourself, lighten up just a little and create rules like the three-bite rule (only have three bites of sweets a day) or instead of doing cardio five days a week, do cardio for four days and take a relaxing yoga class on the fifth day. Whatever your resolution is, there is likely a way to stay on track without seemingly punishing yourself. And remember, if you mess up, don’t be too hard on yourself!  Learn to forgive and start over. Negative self-talk won’t do you any good.

Looking for some extra accountability with your goals from a professional health coachSign up for a complimentary 50-minute consultation with me and we can discuss the best ways to help keep you on track!