“To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub.” — William Shakespeare
Feeling the need to unplug? 2016 can be your year to plug in, recharging your body’s low performing batteries. With news and information assailing us from every direction, consuming every spare minute of our already complex and busy lives, it can appear increasingly difficult to find time to let go, relax and rest, let alone unwind enough to experience a peaceful night’s sleep. Do you remember when the TV stations used to go off the air in the early morning hours? The national anthem would suddenly begin playing, the American flag would be waving and then poof the channel would go completely dark. There you were, alone with your thoughts and the darkness. I know, that’s impossible to conceive for those who have been raised on 500+ channels of satellite and cable television.
The point is, sometimes we must force ourselves to go off the air too, to shut down and allow our brains to cool down, rest and reset for the next day. A 2013 Gallup poll showed that 40 percent of Americans are getting less than six hours of sleep at night. The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7 – 8 hours each night, and as you age, more sleep is even better, bolstering your immune system and helping fight off potential illnesses.
Dr. William Dement, one of the leading authorities on sleep, and founder of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine claims, “You’re not healthy unless your sleep is healthy.” So what can we do to ensure adequate sleep patterns, waking up rested, and our brains and bodies are operating efficiently? Turns out, those television stations may have been on to something all those years ago.
Here are 3 simple yet effective ways to help your body sleep.
Photo by Incase.
You may be unaware, but recent studies have started indicating that the light emitted from our televisions, computers, smart phones and tablets has a way of changing our circadian clocks significantly. A 2014 study found using electronic devices close to bedtime slowed the ability of our brains to produce the critical hormone melatonin, which promotes a deep and restful sleep. It also delays the regular occurrences of REM (random eye movement) sleep, when we are dreaming. The inability to experience regular REM sleep can have a negative impact on our ability to be alert and productive during the day. So designating a specific time earlier in the evening to put away all your electronics, will not only help you fall asleep more quickly, but will lead to feeling more awake and refreshed in the morning.
Photo by Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit
Make your bedroom a tranquil, peaceful and inviting place for you to retire to at the end of the day. Make sure your blinds and drapes limit any outside light, while allowing the quiet darkness to envelop and ease you into a more restful sleep. Invest in bedding that is both cozy and comfy, while keeping you reasonably warm and causing you to relax more completely. If possible, keep your television in a separate area, away from where you sleep, so you won’t be tempted to turn it on and disrupt your sleep patterns. If you need a little noise to help you sleep, a quiet fan or a white noise machine can offer some assistance without emitting any additional electronic light.
Our bodies actually operate far better following a consistent routine. Going to bed and waking each morning at roughly the same time, gives your body a much greater chance of functioning at peak performance. The best way to achieve and sustain this increased level of performance is by creating a nightly ritual you enjoy doing. A perfect example might be, resting your legs against a wall in an upright position, while lying comfortably on your back for several minutes. This yoga pose, called “Viparita Karani,” not only helps increase circulation, especially if you’ve been sitting or standing most of the day, but also reduces stress, allowing your lymphatic system to reset.
Photo by katerha
Think about enjoying a steaming cup of herbal tea—chamomile or peppermint, which help with digestion—are two popular choices. Don’t forget to save a few moments of quiet time practicing the art of stillness with a little healthy meditation. Another great idea for a nightly ritual is writing in a gratefulness journal, or taking a warm and relaxing bubble bath. Regardless of the routines you practice, make sure they are enjoyable to you and that they have meaning, helping you unwind and rest more peacefully.
The world we live in today is more frenetic and fast paced than ever before. If you are not committed to finding the inner peace and moments of rest required to reset and recharge your body’s batteries, you may find your mind, your soul and your spirit in desperate need of a charging station.
Start with regulating your sleep routine, making this year your happiest and healthiest yet!
Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography
Tama Fulton is a creative media maven, on-air radio broadcaster, feature writer, live events host, keynote speaker and executive communications strategist. She co-founded Callisto Media Consulting (www.callistomediaconsulting.com) with her childhood friend and business partner, John Hudson Messerall, to harness their mutual talents, helping raise audience awareness in two key messaging areas, live event presentation and written content creation. Tama and John are also the hosts of the recently launched podcast series titled, “True North Story,” which focuses on inspiring, encouraging and motivating others to search for their own True North Story, by offering hope and engagement with the extraordinarily unique, yet distinctively different voices of their guests. Her passion for health and wellness also knows no bounds, as a triathlete, she has completed in several half marathons, participated in numerous cycling tours and is a certified yoga instructor who believes in the power of breath. Tama’s first grade teacher once accused her of being a daydreamer and she still owns this observation, claiming it to be her single greatest compliment! Born and raised in Chicago, she is a lover of all things “Windy City,” an Arizona State Sun Devil alum and a strong believer in irony, especially as a white-knuckle flyer who married a commercial airline pilot.