The first thing to go when I get stressed or overwhelmed is sleep. I have a small child and my own business, so sleep is always on short supply and high demand. When sleep eludes me, it takes an appallingly small number of nights with less-than-awesome sleep to make me feel like I'm underwater. The sleepless toll is physical, emotional, and psychological. And guess what? I NEED all of my faculties to be a good mom, a connected partner, and a clear business person.
I also need sleep to just BE a person. It's vital.
I have struggled immensely with my need for sleep and the mixed messages I've received over my lifetime about the necessity vs. the slothfulness of it. Yes, I said slothfulness. Maybe it's my father's deep work ethic, maybe it's my near Puritan-esque upbringing, but I have struggled with how much sleep is too much. And after much research and tuning into my body's needs, here is what I have found: 7.5 hours is my nightly necessity. Maybe yours is more, maybe it's less. But either way, SLEEP IS REALLY IMPORTANT.
Have a bedtime ritual.
Does water relax you? Take a bath with some epsom salts or a shower with a little lavender oil. Light some candles as you begin your wind-down. Make a cup of sleepy time tea, or massage your favorite lotion into your hands. Do some gentle stretching or a five minute mind-clearing meditation. Read a book, like an honest-to-goodness book with real pages. And speaking of reading...
Put your phone in another room.
I know, your phone has night mode now! It's so exciting! But your bed is a sacred place and it's time to make it so. Don't bring Facebook to bed with you. All of the things that you love to like and love to loathe will still be there in the morning. But you don't need all that company in your restful place.
Intentionally pull tension into all of your muscles.
Yep, I know. You're trying to relax, so why would you intentionally tense up? We often carry tension in places we aren't aware of. Tensing up your body and then slowly releasing all that tension can help you release the hidden tension. Scan slowly from head to toe, allowing your facial muscles to relax all the way down to your pinkie toes. Breathe out the tension and feel your body melt into your mattress.
Feed your brain.
Apparently, science tells us that our brains are comprised of 60% fat. So, guess what feeds your brain? Fat. Sleep rejuvenates and restores mental function. Giving your brain the fuel it needs to fully recover from your day of constant input will change how you sleep at night. Take a small spoonful of raw coconut oil or sesame oil before bed and help your brain rest.
So, I'm just going to out myself here. I am writing this to you while side-eyeing the top of my dresser that has become a perpetual catchall for random crap that might have a home but probably doesn't. It's the last thing I see before I switch off my light and the first thing I open my eyes to in the morning. I sleep better when my sleeping space is low on clutter and high on zen. So, let's clear the clutter out of our sacred sleep space. I'll go first.
Seek help from a professional.
Maybe it's seasonal, maybe it's something more chronic. If you are having consistent sleep issues, it's a good plan to talk to someone about what might be keeping you up at night. Mineral deficiencies, hormones, sleep apnea, anxiety, relationship issues, that thing you did five years ago that still makes you cringe, whatever. Sometimes you just need a little extra help figuring it out, and it's infinitely easier to let someone else help you find a clear path out of the fray than trying to do it on your own in a sleep-deprived state.
Your rest is important. Your mental health is important. Figure out what works for you and make your sleep sacred.