So, today I want to talk SLEEP.
Why? Because we live in this always-on, always-up, always plugged-in world… and it can really take it’s toll on us, even if we don’t realize. This past year, especially so, where there’s never been more screen time, more time at home, and more reasons than ever that we want to remain constantly connected.
But when we don’t take the time to let our bodies rest — or we simply can’t — it affects every little piece of our lives. Here, I dug into how you can intentionally slow down every day, because it’s vital to being the best you can be.
And good sleep is a really, really important piece of that rest puzzle. It’s so much more than 7-8 hours of great dreams. Energetically, it’s tied to our hunger, our immune systems, our vibrancy, our hormones, energy, mood… and so much more. It’s the only time when our bodies can repair and regenerate from a cellular level, clearing out waste and toxins, and the only times our brains reach a true theta state (which helps us process our emotions and stressors in daily life, in a healthy way).
Aka, there is a clear and direct connection between sleep and our overall health.
But how many of us take it that seriously?
How many of us push the limits all day long (ah hem, fellow mamas and entrepreneurs and people living in this weird, weird time?! ) and tell themselves they’ll catch up on sleep later. There’s just too much to do, think about, organize, and get done.
Which is fine.
Except….. when you have no boundaries between getting things done AND making rest and sleep a priority in your life.
I think you can do both. It just requires some shifting, and much stronger protective boundaries around your own health and vitality first. Which ironically will help you get more of the important things done in life during the day (notice that I didn’t say everything… I said the important things).
Because living a constantly exhausted, always caffeinated, adrenal-limit-pushing, always plugged-in life isn’t helping you serve anyone or anything else well.
And it doesn’t serve you, either.
Instead of trying to always stay connected and busy and productive and on, we owe it to ourselves to rest. To recharge. To have a time everyday where we press the OFF button to the outside world, and get quiet with ourselves instead of everything else.
That is what being healthy is all about– knowing and honoring yourself, the boundaries you need to thrive, and to have a longer term view of how you operate day in and day out vs always putting out fires.
Over the last few years, I’ve made it a huge priority in my life to focus on taking the time to deeply rest, to shift my energy from day to night, and to wind down for bed intentionally. It’s changed over the years, especially as I’ve become a mama, and it changes too, with the seasons.
But, one thing is always the same… and that’s that allowing myself to disconnect and get good rest is non-negotiable.
I want it to be a non-negotiable for you, too. And flexibility is key (and so is understanding what rest really means to you, and this blog post is a great resource for that). The true goal? To keep focusing on yourself.
It doesn’t have to be hard, either — and it shouldn’t be! Really, it’s just all about simple, intentional tweaks to help you wind down for bed and recharge your soul the right way. Here are some of the things I’ve found so personally helpful over the years, and I hope it gives you some ideas to try (or tweak) for yourself!
5 Ways to Wind Down for Bed
01. Turn your screens off by 8:30 pm.
You guys, screens are a big thing in life, huh? Really, they’re everywhere. They’re on your walls and your laps and your hands…
And turning them off at night will absolutely change the way you wind down for bed… and the way your brain and hormones function.
I’m firm about turning all screens off (that means my phone, too!) around 8 or 8:30 pm every night, for so many reasons.
First up, turning off your screens is a signal to your body to start to clear your energetic space. Devices all give off a ionic vibration (EMF’s) which makes it impossible for your body’s molecules to calm down until they are turned off.
No screens also helps to create a boundary from work (which for me, and for so many of us, is done almost completely online), and it also helps mark a line between the end of my day and the beginning of my nighttime routine.
But wait! There’s more 🙂
You’ve probably heard about blue light, especially in this year of working from home and quarantine, and for good reason. The blue light that gets emitted from screens can trigger your “awake” hormones to keep pumping, making it almost impossible to fall asleep quickly.
Psst… I’m all about movie nights sometimes, too! This doesn’t mean you can never do that again. Instead, if you are watching a show or a movie, invest in a good pair of blue-light blocking glasses, which can help so much. I have these ones (in the clear color), but these also look cute too!
Simple, intentional. That’s the game. That’s what we want here.
02. Dim the lights.
Ahhh, you guys. This is my favorite part. I love to dim the lights when it’s time to start winding down. I do this every year for the Fall and Winter, and I love it so much.
Harsh, heavy overhead lighting (especially if you have LED lights in your house) never signals to your brain that it’s time to wind down… similar to screens.
So, dim the lights… or even go by candlelight as you unwind and relax, which is truly the most soul-filling thing in the world to do.
You don’t have to turn them all off, but even just making the simplest switch from overhead lighting to flipping on a lamp makes the biggest difference. I also love to close all of our blinds at night, almost like I’m winding down the house… and then the house wakes up again with me when I open them again in the mornings.
Truly, it’s just in those reminders to your body that it’s time to wind down. It’s time to turn off the day, cleanse the energy, let it all go.
If you’re a nighttime reader (hiiii, me too!), think about getting a red light reading light!
Red light lets your hormones produce melatonin in the right way and right amounts to help induce better sleep. Also, it’s much less harsh than the bedside lamp which means I don’t drive Kyle nuts 🙂
03. Do something to physically relax and release energy.
We carry a lot during the day. When you think about it makes sense, right?
Maybe you spend half the day slumped over your keyboard, maybe your back is tight from chasing a 2 year old around, maybe you haven’t moved much. Either way, a day of living life gives your body a lot to hold on to… and letting it go is key to winding down the right way.
That’s why it’s so important to physically stimulate that energy release in your body, and to relax reaaaallly intentionally.
There are so many ways to do this, and I love doing a mix of them depending on how I feel from day to day. Some days, foam rolling is just the BEST way to release tension and carry it out. Other days, I love shifting energy with an epsom salt bath or a dry brushing sesh before a hot shower. Other days, I love doing a quick yoga class on the Peloton app or Melissa Wood app.
The key is simple… it’s just to help your nervous system release and relax. A released and relaxed nervous system goes to sleep so much more easily.
04. Love on your skin.
I am a huge believer in washing off the day and winding down with a little bit of luxury, which is where some intentional skincare comes into play when I’m winding down every. single. night.
This is just as mental as it is physical to me, you know? While my winding down ritual is great for my skin longterm, it’s so much more than that…
It’s also how I truly shift into a nighttime mindset, how I take care of myself, how I show myself a little extra love.
I start out every night with my favorite simple oil cleansing ritual (this oil cleanser is really my holy grail, every single night), and taking the time to truly breathe and start to unwind. I go really in depth with my oil cleansing ritual right here.
It takes less than 5 minutes every night, and is a non-negotiable way to take care of myself and wind on down. Also, if you know you know… there’s nothing better than nighttime skincare to release energy, ground you down, and calm your nervous system.
(You can always take 10% off your PP orders with the code ‘simplyrealhealth’ too :))
05. Calm your mind & stimulate theta brain waves.
If you read that and said “whhhhhat?!?!” you’re not alone. Let me explain, Sarah science class version.
Theta waves are the brain waves that fire off while you’re asleep and in deep relaxation, stimulating that deep rest that you can’t get otherwise. They’re a slower wave that can be really affected by stress or overwhelm, and you want to keep them healthy and happy so that you can sleep well.
Since helping your brain produce theta waves is key to great rest, wind down for bed with that in mind.
There are a few ways to do it, all of which are great, and all of which I do! Listen to binaural beat music (YouTube and Spotify have some goodies), a bedtime meditation, read a book (my fav), journal, write down things you’re grateful for.
Really, our brains need ways to process the day and let them go before we can drift to sleep. Doing this lets them do that!
Some extra bonus tips:
- Get exposure to sunlight during the day, yup even if it’s cloudy. If you can avoid sunglasses so the receptors in your eyes get light. This will help your hormones balance, will help you stay alert during the day and will also help regulate your body at night.
- Need a little help falling asleep? Taking a great magnesium supplement (and doing epsom salts in a bath can really help calm and soothe our nervous system). Also, trying some CBD drops under your tongue at night can make a world of a difference on days where stress is naturally higher. I love this brand, the double strength one (or original if you’re brand new to cbd and a little nervous). You can use the code “simplyreal” for 15% off your first order.
- Use a sleep mask and earplugs at night. I cannot say this enough. Deep sleep = healthy sleep. Make sure your room is dark, quiet and not too hot– all of those things can disrupt your circadian rhythm. I love these earplugs and use this sleepmask NIGHTLY. I won’t travel or leave home without it.