Each of us has an existing set of habits around sleep that we may have never consciously created, but those habits still exist.  Becoming aware of those habits is crucial to understanding how your sleep situation works, and then figuring out how to make changes so that your sleep improves.

Bed Time

Do you go to bed at the same time, seven days a week?  Most people struggling with poor sleep will answer no to this question.

Your body has what is commonly referred to as a “biological clock.” Your brain does a remarkable job of regulating its awareness of how time passes each day.  It changes your body chemistry throughout the day to make you feel more sleepy or more alert, creating an ebb and flow of productivity and restfulness.

Here’s the catch: your brain can only regulate one biological clock.

Research indicates that you can vary your bedtime by about 30 minutes each day with no detrimental effect on your biological clock.  It will keep running smoothly.  You can even have on time per week where you vary your bedtime by more than an hour, and your biological clock will still remain functional, but vary bedtime more than once a week by more than an hour, and you confuse your biological clock.

What’s the most common way that people create this problem for themselves?  They have one bedtime Sunday through Thursday, and another bedtime Friday through Saturday.  During the work week, we’re responsible, but on the weekend we like to “live a little.”  The result is a biological clock that’s running off, and our sleep suffers.

Challenge: for one week, go to bed at the same time each night.

If you want to improve your sleep, perhaps the easiest place to start is the physical environment you sleep in.  We sometimes take for granted the things in our physical space that can be adapted or changed that will actually have an impact on the end result of getting better sleep.  So let’s go through the environmental factors that impact your sleep!

Temperature

When we sleep, our core temperature of our body actually goes down a little bit.  This is natural, but if we keep our sleep environment too warm, that natural temperature regulation gets thrown off, and the quality of our sleep goes down.

What factors affect your temperature?

  • Thermostat adjustment
  • Amount of bedding on the bed.
  • Whether you sleep in clothing or naked.
  • Whether you sleep alone or with a partner
  • Whether pets sleep in the bed or not.

Light

The human brain has parts that sense light or dark and releases chemicals in response to make us feel sleepy or more alert.  Being more aware of how you control the light in your sleep environment is important.  Too much light can lead to difficulty falling asleep.   Not enough light at wake-up time can make you more likely to want to hit the snooze when you should be getting up.

Do an assessment of all sources of light in your sleep environment.  Are there ways for you to adjust the light levels when needed?

Important: When you think about light, include the light from televisions, laptops, tablets, or phones.  The blue wavelength of light these devices emit tricks your brain into thinking it’s time to be alert.  We’ll talk more about controlling light sources in the Beginner level of the program.

Activities

The bedroom is supposed to be for two activities: sleep and sex.  For many people, more activities than the two mentioned are happening in the bedroom on a regular basis.  If you’re consuming media in your bedroom, you’re stimulating your brain in ways that reduce your ability to sleep well.  If you’re eating in your bedroom, you’re stimulating your body in ways that make it harder to sleep well.  It’s time to make some changes.

Letting go of some old habits and starting some new ones will help you get your sleep back on track.  It’s worth it!  When you sleep better, you feel better.

We all know how important sleep is to our body, but did you also know that it is essential to the inner workings of your Mind and your Spirit? During this time of uncertainty and upheaval, you may be experiencing some sleep difficulties you have never had before. With this article I hope to share with you some ways to alleviate those concerns and get back to a normal healthy night of sleep! 
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