“I did it!”, or should I say, “I am doing it!” Since Sunday, I have effectively practiced making sleep and rest a priority, being in bed by around 10:00 each night, and I must say my family and I have been so rewarded by it. We made a concerted effort as a family to make sure we ALL go to bed nightly at the same time, and everyone in the house has raved about how good they have been feeling. I must say, there is something quite special about crawling into bed with my husband at the same time each night and entering into God’s rest together. There is such a “holy hush” that seems to envelope the atmosphere close to bedtime in our house, that no matter if we are doing homework, housework, or the like, we make sure to curtail it in time to meet our bedtime hour, not because we have to, but because we see the importance and “want” to. There were a few obstacles along the way that the book shares, and that I want to offer suggestions to as well. Here they are:
1. Make sure your bedroom is your designated sleep area, free of distractions like tvs, electronics, computers, work clutter, household projects, glaring lights, etc. I went the whole week with no tv on in my bedroom and no glaring clocks, and those small changes made a huge difference! I make sure it is dark and quiet at bedtime, and that I am cool and comfortable. I cannot sleep well if it is too hot, so I keep my ceiling fan on, my bedside fan rotating, and turn the thermostat down to keep the whole house cool. I love to be nestled under layers of blankets against the cool chill of the night…although my husband claims he freezes! I say, that is what warm pajamas and extra blankets are for (Lol!) And by all means, once you are in bed, stay there. Even if you can’t fall asleep quickly, you are teaching your body to respect rest and eventually it will fall in sync. Practice does make perfect, and in no time you will be falling asleep shortly after your head hits the pillow. It worked for me.
2. Have a bedtime ritual. What you do in the daytime affects your bedtime, so eat nutritiously, exercise, and start unwinding hours before bedtime. Those who exercise daily spend more time in restorative stage 3 and 4 sleep, so exercise is so important to your sleep hygiene, but don’t exercise too close to bedtime. As the sun goes down and it starts to get dark, your body will start easing into rest mode too. Stay in sync! For me, sometimes I like a candlelit relaxing bath with Epsom salt and a few drops of lavender oil, followed by a nice cup of tea that promotes rest and sleep, like chamomile, lemon balm, valerian, etc. You can easily find them in the store. Dr. Colbert mentions in the book that the best sleep aid is meditating on the word of God, and I agree! Spend that time releasing the cares of your day back to the One who knows what to do with them best in the first place 🙂
3. Invest in a quality night’s sleep. Make sure your mattress, pillow, sheets, and blankets are comfortable, and invest where necessary. You will spend the bulk of your night in bed, so don’t skimp! Years back, we made the transition to a memory foam bed (without the springs), and that has been the best investment we could have made. I have a firm memory foam mattress, a plush 4-inch memory foam topper (for added softness, which I swear by), a cotton mattress pad, then sheets and blankets. In other words, layer your bed with the level of comfort you desire. Why wait until you go to the Westin Hotel to sleep in their “heavenly bed” when you can have a 5 star sleep experience right at home? Memory foam beds are pretty cheap now, so I highly recommend one as they help to relieve pressure points when you lay down, a must as you get older.
4. Keep an arsenal of natural sleep remedies and aids. Get off the sleeping pills! They are not safe, and in the long run can make you dependent on them. Instead, as the book states, look into natural supplements that your body might be lacking and replace them, like theanine, 5-HTP, melatonin, etc. Calcium and magnesium are also vitamins that are crucial to rest and sleep. Sometimes our trouble sleeping could be a sign of a vitamin or natural hormone deficiency, and taking care of the root cause is a lot better than masking it with prescription sleep aids.
5. Most importantly, create a day of rest for yourself. Take time out everyday to take a nap, get a good night’s rest, and have one day out of the week to enjoy rest from your labor. Spend time with family, catch up on a good book, laugh with friends, enjoy a hobby, but do no work! People who have a life outside of work tend to be happier and are a joy to be around. Put yourself as a priority and MAKE time for yourself to rest. Schedule yourself in and let no one, or nothing, get in the way of that.
So there you have it. Love yourself enough to get proper rest and sleep. Let’s move from pillar to pillar – drink your water, get your rest, and next – eat living food! Tune in next week as we dig into our pillar 3: living food. I think we are on our way to building success…in us!