I just finished a 21 day sleep project where I tracked my sleep each night with an oura ring. This year I’ve put together a 21 Day Habits of Health Project where each month I spend 21 days on a single health habit. We need at least 7 hours of sleep each night to give our body the time to rebuild and restore, clean out, feel rested and have energy the next day. I’ve already done three 21 day projects this year and this one was the hardest. Harder then the 21 Day Big 6 Detox. Many times we sacrifice sleep to get through our never-ending to-do lists and over-scheduled calendars. To make sleep a priority takes effort and priority.
My Sleep Profile
I am a decent sleeper and regularly fall asleep or stay asleep. The biggest challenge with my sleep is going to bed earlier enough to get at least 7 hours of it.
Here is what I learned.
What helped me get enough good sleep (at least 7 hours)
- Consistent Bedtime & Routine. The best way to get consistent good sleep (7+ hours) is to create a bedtime routine or habit and train your body to go to sleep each night . The actions in the routine should prepare your body and mind for sleep. Choose actions that are slower-paced, relaxing, and give a sense of closure. Include a warm bath or shower, pamper yourself with a facial mask, calm your mind with meditation or reading, feel a sense of closure responding to any emails or text messages you didn’t get to earlier in the day. I also like to relax watching an exciting or funny and well-written series on Netflix. Set your bedtime at least 7 hours before you need to wake up.
- Comfortable and clean sleep environment. My bedroom needs to put me in the mood to sleep. Everything from a firm bed, comfortable bedding, and soft lighting. And my room has to be tidy, it calms my mind when things are in place. I’m all about loungewear and that includes sleeping in comfortable pajamas.
- Sleep time indulgences. Even though I know I need sleep, I tend to go to sleep too late because I “just want to finish one more thing on my to-do list” or “just want to watch a few more minutes of a really good show”. I motivate myself to start my bedtime routine by adding little indulgences like a favorite face mask, new pajamas, or a great book.
What doesn’t help me get enough good sleep
- Going to bed too late. It’s simple math. On weekdays, I wake up at 6am. If I go to bed later then 11pm the previous night, I won’t get 7 hours of sleep. After my daughters go to bed, I have about 2 hours to clean up, finish up work and my to-do list, and get through my bedtime routine. I can easily get derailed if my kids took a little longer to go to bed, a lot of work to finish or an unscheduled make-out session with my husband. On most nights, I have to work hard to make my bedtime.
- Alcohol. I enjoy an occasional alcoholic drink or two with family or friends. As I’ve gotten older, alcohol has effected me differently and I have to be very mindful of the quality and quantity of alcohol I drink. Alcohol does effect my sleep when I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed. If I drink too much or alcohol that is not good quality, I don’t get enough REM (re-energizing your mind) and deep sleep (restoring your body) and get up very early so I feel tired and sluggish the next day.
- Stress and Anxiety. I am a decent sleeper and if I don’t sleep well the reason is usually stress and anxiety. Stress effects my breathing and my sleep. When I’m under a lot of stress and anxiety, I get up at 3am and can’t go back to sleep.
I can’t remember the last time I slept this much for 21 days and it felt so good. I thought about my sleep routine and schedule each day and I know I need to make it a priority in order to get at least 7+ hours of sleep. This taught me sleep is absolutely necessary for good health.