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Sleep Wellness: Sleep Is Self-Care

If you haven’t heard already, prioritizing self-care is the way to improve your life. Self-care can take many forms, from a new mattress or pillow set to face masks and pizza nights to ‘treat yourself’. It means investing in your overall quality of life and building (and maintaining) positive, wellness-based habits.

The Charaka Samhita, a foundational yogic text, states, “Happiness, misery, nourishment, emaciation, strength, weakness, virility, sterility, knowledge, ignorance, life and death — all these occur depending on proper or improper sleep.”

Wellness is the bedrock of our lives, and sleep may be the bedrock of wellness. Obviously,  there are many factors that go into a comprehensive wellness plan but, unfortunately, the first one we tend to ‘cheat’ is our sleep routine. Here’s how you can start prioritizing your sleep quality, in an easy, and manageable way.

Let The Sleep Guilt Pass

We are programmed to be in work mode 24/7. While this can be great for flexibility, it can lead to a lot of unrecognized stress. We’ve learned to be “online” and available to our clients and our bosses. This is often at the expense of our quality of life and even more often, our sleep. How often have you heard a coworker brag about how little sleep they’ve gotten during the week while working on a project? Don’t be afraid to get nine hours if you need it. Trust us, that email will be waiting for you when you wake up.

Early Bedtime

You’re probably wondering how to wake up early if you go to sleep late. Our bodies are on a diurnal clock, which means that we actively want to sleep during the evening hours. It is common when we are busy, to let our sleep schedule get out of whack — there are parties, family or work gatherings, and general fun to be had, but it’s important to remember that getting to bed early isn’t impossible.

Sleep scientist, Shawn Stevenson, says that the best sleep (for the most part) is between the hours of 10pm and 6am. While there is some wiggle room there, these are the times when our brains are best set up to enter deep REM sleep. REM sleep is essential for rejuvenating your mind and body, as it’s the time when your body can replenish hormones and chemicals vital to your waking processes. On occasion, there are people who do go to bed at odd hours (Benjamin Franklin notably only slept in 90 minute spurts throughout the night) these people are usually the exceptions and not the rule. If you’re waking up cranky and unrested, try scooting your bedtime up an hour or two and see if that can help you.

A girl working in front of laptop while sitting on a mattress
A girl playing with her dog on bed

Sleep Routine

Alicia Sanchez at Yoga Teacher Prep says that her key is to get into a routine, and stick to it no matter what!

“Bedtime routines aren’t only for children,” says Sanchez. “They serve a real purpose–to signal the body that it’s time to get ready for sleep. A bedtime routine doesn’t need to be lengthy or extensive, but it should help you relax. A warm bath, reading a book (not on a screen), light meditation… are all activities that help the body release tension from the day and prepare for rest. After a while, as soon as the routine starts, the body begins the process of preparing for sleep on its own.”

With that in mind, here are some basic ways we’ve come up with to jumpstart your sleep routine and begin your journey to better sleep hygiene. Take these practices to heart and feel rejuvenated with a healthy balance of sleep and yoga. Your mind AND body will thank you.

Listen To Your Body

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it bears being said: listen to what your body is telling you. If you feel tired and overworked, then you probably are! It’s ok to take a mental wellness day to catch up on some Zs, but lifestyle changes are always the best and most lasting route to take.

If you feel good, you’ll perform better at work, at home, and at the gym. Sleeping is actually one of the most important details to emphasize when coming up with a new wellness regimen. Yes, a new mattresses and pillow are just as important as new gyms and yoga poses, so it’s time to step up your wellness game and get the sleep you truly need.

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