Tips for better sleep brought to you by my partners! I have partnered with the Saatva Company and Momentum Fitness to help craft a healthier life in 2017.
Sleeping has never really been a priority in my life. I remember being 26, working a full time job, a part time job, and going to college full time while being a single mom. I was lucky to get 4 hours of sleep each night, but the average was 3. I knew I couldn’t hang like that for forever, and I was completely right. By the time I hit 28, I was a goner.
I doubled my sleep efforts and started getting five to six hours of sleep each night.
I was still walking around kinda cranky with short patience and living this brain fog kind of existence. I struggled with depression, fatigue, and a general malaise that was difficult to live with on a daily basis.
And yet that’s how so many of us are walking around right this minute.
We’re taking drugs to help us feel better then more drugs to deal with all the symptoms those drugs cause. We’re tired, we’re sick, and we’re tired of being sick but don’t know what to do about it, right?
Even with a sugar free, cleaner diet, I was feeling rough, but I never once likened it to the fact that I might need more sleep.
When I started working out at Momentum Fitness, Coach Karen told me I needed to be getting more sleep. My first reaction was, “Seriously? HOW? WHEN?” She told me to take baby steps, but that night I went to bed two hours earlier than I normally do and the craziest thing happened – I was happy the next day. I was able to function and dare I say it – thrive.
And yet I still didn’t connect the dots.
As the weeks wore on, I continued to go to bed at 10pm and I noticed some pretty significant benefits to getting more sleep. The first time I went to bed after midnight again, I woke up feeling like my old self and I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. It was then that I finally realized that getting enough sleep was critical to my fitness journey this year, but more than that, it was key in my happiness too.
Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night has some pretty significant health benefits. It improves memory, it curbs inflammation, it helps creatives with their creativity, it helps improve athletic performance, metabolism, focus-related problems, and helps with weight loss. It helps to lower stress and has been shown to aid in relieving depression.
I don’t know about you, but that pretty much covers my entire list of ailments.
The thing is, my body was so used to getting so little sleep, that it took a while before I settled into new sleep habits.
Here are the things that helped me sleep better and longer at night.
A Comfortable Mattress
We’ve been sleeping on an overpriced air mattress for seven years and my back and hips have been hurting like crazy. Getting good sleep is such an integral part of living a healthy lifestyle and I knew I couldn’t continue sleeping on the other mattress. I’ve researched other mattresses and I felt like a memory foam mattress would be a good fit for us, but I was afraid of the off-putting gasses many of them contain.
When I found Loom & Leaf, I knew that I had found a product I was excited about.
They use materials sourced in the USA and an organic cotton quilt covering.
When it arrived, it took us a couple of days to set it up and sleep on it. I know that’s super weird, but we were waiting for a new base and we wanted it to be right. It didn’t come rolled up in a box, but instead just folded out in all its glory covered in plastic.
Once we finally slept on our new Loom & Leaf, I felt like I had leveled up in life.
As a gal with a big booty, it’s hard to find a mattress that supports both the lower back and the glutes. For the first time in my life, I could feel the mattress actually touching my lower back. I woke up without hip pain the very first night, and according to my sleep cycle app, I slept in full, perfect sleep cycles for the first time since I started using it three months ago.
Soft Sheets & Shaved Legs
Another component to sleeping well is having sheets that will keep you cool and comfortable. And ladies, it helps to shave your legs on a regular basis. I know that sounds kooky, but I can’t even try to sleep when my legs have turned into prickly pears. Taking care of your body is such a pain in the neck, right? But getting good sleep means less actual pains in the neck, and more energy to take care of your body the way it deserves to be taken care of. Seriously. Try it. Get some good sheets (these are our favorite sheets from Amazon), and shave your legs. Then don’t shave your legs and see if it makes a difference.
We have pets and my husband chomps in his sleep and I’ve been known to be a light snorer when I’m having allergy issues. All of these things cause issues with your sleep cycles. Even a light noise can cause your body to jolt awake just enough so that you don’t remember it, but enough to knock you out of a healthy sleep rhythm. Having white noise on playing in your room is a great way to block those sounds out and help with deeper, more consistent sleep. There’s absolutely no reason to go buy an expensive white noise machine. If your phone is usually plugged in and charging at night, simply buy a white noise album and put it on repeat then snooze into la la land – and stay there.
I’m not a doctor, but I do eat well and I’m ridiculously researched on what supplements I should be taking. Magnesium is one of them. Magnesium is known to help relieve insomnia by decreasing the stress hormone, cortisol while you sleep. It also helps with muscle soreness from working out, and with insulin sensitivity. Now I take it when I eat dinner and by the time I’m ready for bed, I’m feeling relaxed and ready to dream. When I forget to take it, I notice a massive difference in my quality of sleep. To read up more on why Magnesium is important and how it affects, sleep, read this article on PaleoLeap.
Just as getting enough quality sleep is important to your performance during physical activity, physical activity is important to the quality of your sleep. Moving your body can improve sleep patterns and regulate your circadian rhythm. It is also known to lift your moods and reduce stress which decreases cortisol levels that keep you awake at night. You don’t have to do a full blown CrossFit workout, just get yourself moving. I’ve found my home at Momentum Fitness where we happen to do CrossFit (and kickboxing). I love the rigor of CrossFit paired with the muscle strengthening activities that leave me feeling like an absolute BEAST.
The thing is you can’t have high performance without good sleep, it’s an important component to a healthy lifestyle or weight loss journey. For more on what Coach Karen says about sleep, check this article out on their website!
If you’re one of those people who have thoughts that just won’t stop, have a journal by your bedside and just dump everything out into it before you go to sleep. If writing things by hand is too tedious, dump on your computer before bed, but leave it off of social media, please. Make this about you and only you. No need to create even more drama in your life, amiright?
Stop Drinking Caffeine in the Afternoon
It took me a while to figure my own timing out, and like everything else, it’s subject to change, but I’ve found that if I drink caffeine after 4pm, I can’t fall asleep no matter what I do. Your threshold might be earlier or later. It’s something you’ll have to play around with. Drink enough water throughout the day to keep your energy high. One of the leading causes of daytime exhaustion is dehydration! So next time you’re tired during the day, reach for a glass of water instead of the coffee pot.