Commit to going to sleep at 10 pm every night for at least a week!
One week is a good place to start and yes, you certainly can feel the difference within a week’s time. If you have difficultly falling asleep or restless nights during that week, the various factors contributing to your sleep disturbance will most likely take a little longer to address. The latest research indicates that our bodies and minds require 21-days to form a “new habit”, so if you would like to really go for you and commit to forming this habit, then mark your calendar for 21-days!
Every self-care act we practice is part of a bigger whole. Each individual act supports another and all are important. Some are more influential in determining our overall wellbeing than others, such as our mental state of mind and our ability to process stress in our lives. Feeling well rested throughout the day dramatically enhances the quality of your life, your interactions and your ability to really stay on top of your game in life. Think of it as a foundation, from which all other self-care acts stem. When we sleep at night our bodies have a chance to rejuvenate, repair and to heal. You can think of your time sleeping as a system reboot where the immune system kicks in, our minds have a chance to rest and we are able to drift off into a magical and mystical dream state that only happens when we sleep.
If you typically go to bed by 11 pm the adjustment might not be so difficult. If you stay up until midnight or even later, it will most likely take some more time to shift to a healthier sleep cycle and it might get worse before it gets better! What you will need is a strong will and a big enough why. I would highly recommend writing your commitment down and listing all of the reasons you want to integrate this Holistic Self-Care Practice into your life. List the symptoms you experience when you are tired during the day and how you can imagine the quality of your life might change if you adopt a new pattern of sleep in your life. Single out the top three reasons that get you really excited and highlight those to look at everyday. Turn those reasons into your mantra and driving force behind this change. Keep imagining what your life will look like when you are well rested, full of energy and at your peak mental clarity, stamina and intuition.
As mentioned in previous articles if you are up past 10 pm, certain systems of the body start to "wake back up" and regardless of how tired you were it becomes pretty easy to stay awake until about 2 am. Commit to turning off all “screens” (computers, smart phones or t.v.'s) by 8 pm in order for your mind to rest and your pineal gland to not be tricked into believing that it is still time to be awake and active. Figure out what works best for you and create a routine that begins to signal to the body that it’s time to start going to bed at 9.30. When you integrate a nighttime ritual it can be very helpful stimulate the Relaxation Response through soft music, a candle or a hot bath or even just reading a book. If you find your mind is really busy when you lay down at night, take some time to write everything down that you need to remember for the next day and begin a gratitude journal of all of the things you were grateful for that day. Focus on the moments of your day where you experienced happiness or were able to connect with nature and set your intention for a deep and restful night sleep.
I am so excited for you and can’t wait to hear how your lives begin to positively transform when you practice this self-care act! Please stay in touch and let me know how it goes. And of course, if you have any questions or would like me to cover an aspect of sleep in more depth, please feel free to write!
MindBodyBeing's Founder Heather Blankinship is the main author for the blogs and also hosts contributing writers from around the globe.