The primary function of sleep is to recharge your brain, promote growth and allow your body to fight off disease and infection. Without the proper amount of sleep, the brain will not function adequately and you may feel sluggish. This is why newborn babies are always sleeping. As we get older we do not need as much sleep as a newborn, but that does not mean we can eliminate it all together.
Based on the Sleep Foundation’s research, the recommended amount of sleep for the average adult is 7-9 hours. How many of us actually get 7-9 hours of sleep every night? I do! After being diagnosed with a chronic disease, I realized how important sleep was to my body if I wanted to function like a normal person. I struggled getting enough sleep every night during my flare-ups because I would have to run to the bathroom about 3 times per night in excruciating pain, interrupting my REM cycle. I would wake up in the morning even more exhausted than the day before, and it showed. I suffered with brain fog during this period, which is a common symptom with ulcerative colitis.
Once I nailed down my diet and exercise routine, I was able to reduce my number of trips to the bathroom each night allowing myself to finally sleep through a full night. I had to adopt a new bedtime routine that allowed me to wind down from my day, because I find that a lot of overthinking happens when I try to fall asleep (I think some of you may agree)! I began to set sleep timers on my phone that start at 9:30pm so that I stop looking at my phone and TV screen, as this is bad for your eyes and keeps your brain turned on making it harder to fall asleep. I strive to get into my bed at 10pm, but some nights it will be a little later. Regardless, I usually fall asleep around 10pm or 10:30pm and wake up around 6am or 6:30pm depending on the day. This schedule allows me to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Another positive change I made to get better sleep was putting essential oils in my diffuser, turning on my white noise machine, and drinking sleepy time tea at least one hour before bed. The scent of the oil I use changes each night, but my recent favorites have been lavender and eucalyptus as these are calming oils. I will usually switch up the sounds on my white noise machine from beach waves to piano music. If that is too much for me, then I try doing a guided meditation with music before bed. I have found that if you use a white noise machine, you have to keep it at the right volume. Too loud can keep your brain awake, so you need to make sure the volume level is low enough to where you can hear it as background noise.
I love this blog post from Calm that talks about how important your environment is for you to get a good night’s sleep. They break it down by senses: sight, sound, touch and smell. I definitely use a sleep mask and my blackout curtains in the summer because of how bright the sun is coming through my window! It is also important to make sure the temperature in your room is at 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. I am always cold so I have a ton of blankets and sometimes have to sleep in my robe. All of these suggestions are a great place to start if you experience trouble with sleep. I can assure you that once you reach the optimal 7-9 hours of sleep per night, your life will change.
Share your sleep routine with me below in the comments!