“Our bodies need rest, but our brains need sleep.”
This is something my chiropractor told me a long time ago. When talking about mental disorders, this seems like a pretty important thing to focus on (brain, mental… you see where I’m going with this?).
Getting a good amount of sleep every night can be extremely helpful in dealing with and getting through depression, anxiety, and well, really anything. It is essential for your overall mental, physical, and emotional health! It is the foundation for all things health related. If you are not sleeping, or not sleeping at the right times, or for the right amount of time, you are going to suffer.
I have been working hard over the last few weeks to establish a good sleeping routine. Doing this has proven to be challenging as I have had insomnia my whole life, but it’s made a big difference in how I feel overall.
This is not an easy schedule. It requires commitment, but if you have tried everything and are still struggling to get enough sleep, this is what you need. Commit to this schedule for two weeks and see how you feel. Then continue. Make it a part of your life and enjoy the benefits of feeling refreshed physically and mentally.
- You must go to bed at the same time every night. Pick a time and stick to it. Even if this means ditching parties with your friends, not getting the dishes done, or not finishing “just one more episode”.
- You must also get up at the same time everyday, whether or not (this is the hard part) you have slept. I repeat, whether or not you have slept. This is important. Even if you have just fallen asleep an hour before, you have to make yourself get up and you are not allowed to sleep until your bedtime that night. This is the only way you are going to be able to reset your body’s internal clock. Unless you have tried, really tired this, you are not allowed to say that “I’ve tried everything to sleep and I just can’t”. (Especially if you are posting this on Facebook at three in the morning…sorry.)
- Your room needs to be dark, quiet, and cool. We’re talking pitch black dark. No light shining under your door from the hallway, no digital alarm clocks, block out the street light coming in through the window. Use white noise or calming music without words to drown out any distracting thoughts or sounds. Keep your room temperature between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Stay in bed for eight to nine hours. Do not get up, turn on lights, etc. (The exception to this is if you have to use the bathroom. However, if you are finding yourself waking up for this reason, stop drinking fluids before bed.) We want you eventually sleeping solidly through the night without interruption.
- Turn off ALL electronics 30-45 minutes before bed. TV, computer, smart phone, all of it. Electronics keep your brain from being able to shut down and transition into sleep. The blue light emitted from them prevents your body from producing melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by your body that helps regulate your sleep and wake patterns.
- Spend the last hour before going to bed relaxing. Create a routine (check out an example of my nightly routine) that you can follow every night that will signal your body that it’s time to sleep. Take a bath, read a book, drink tea, wash or face, brush your teeth, whatever it is you need and want to to at the end of your day.
- Consider using a sleeping pill for the first week or so to help you jumpstart this routine. Don’t become dependant on it though, we want you to be able to keep to this schedule without it needing a pill that will cause you to feel groggy in the morning.
Now picture yourself crawling into clean sheets at the same time every night, in a room thats dark and quiet, that maybe smells of calming lavender, and listening to soft music as you drift off to sleep. Then discover yourself waking up each morning feeling more relaxed, refreshed, better about life, and ready to start your day! (We will discuss a helpful morning routine in the future). This is the goal we are striving for.
This is hard. It’s strict. The first few weeks might feel like torture and be sleepless. Eventually, though, your body will adjust itself and you will realize just how important sleep is after experiencing it in the way we need it.
Please let me know if you try this and how it works for you, tell me what helps you to sleep better, and feel free to ask if you have any questions!