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  • Writer's pictureMacy Cooper

Beauty Sleep

The importance of sleep is something rarely discredited until it is the night before an exam or big deadline, but why is it that we don’t question when to take a shower or to eat a meal? I am going to share some tricks that I like to use to stay hygienic with my sleep.

A substantial reason why we do not get enough sleep is that we do not take the time to listen to our bodies. If we are tired, we should go to sleep, just as if we smell bad, we need to take a shower. Once in this context, it makes sense to sleep when we have natural warning signs of our body’s fatigue. Time management does help in being able to know if the recommended 8 hours is a possibility. Let’s be realistic… sometimes there is just not enough time to cram for an exam if we are sleeping that much before, but with a little more planning and time management, 8 hours of sleep will put you on track for a more prosperous exam and wellbeing in the long run.

A way that can help you plan your sleep and stay accountable is with a little calculation of what time you need to wake up and working backward, but on the iPhone, this is even built right into the “Clock” option. This allows you to plan what time you need to get up at, how much sleep you want to get, and it will send you a little reminder/notification that you should probably be heading to bed soon to get adequate sleep to go and conquer the following day.

Learning to say NO {taking time for you is mindful, NOT selfish} I know it can be hard not to want to go out and have a good time with friends on the weekends, but after a long week, adding alcohol with a lack of sleep can be detrimental to your fitness goals, as well as judgement, and we all want to make sure we make good decisions when we have a good time right? Maybe suggest a night in with a movie and some healthy snacks, or better yet, just hit the hay early and catch up with them another time. You would be surprised at how little you miss out on, and how much more fun you can have when you are well rested!

After a long day of being continuously stimulated, doesn’t it feel great to lay in bed with your bright phone screen playing funny dog videos as you fall into a soft sleep? Well… studies have shown that this technology continuously stimulates the brain, and can keep you from falling asleep or into a restful sleep, so it is best to put down the phone and laptop about 15 minutes before you go to bed. A trick I like to use to get me to fall asleep is picking a pathopharmacology or medical-surgical nursing book to numb the brain enough that I cannot read another word, but any book can be useful for the mind and slowing it down properly for sleep.

If you have tried everything and just can’t fall asleep as early as you need to, there are many options besides an allergy medicine that is known to knock out a horse… I promise

My favorite is Melatonin. This is a natural hormone stimulated in the body that regulates sleep and wakefulness, but sometimes we need a little more now and then to help us get to a restful night’s sleep. With this supplement, it should not be used habitually as it will decrease the effectiveness in the body, which can end up being more harmful than good. For me, I like to throw these into my bag when I am traveling. You never know when out of your natural environment if you will be able to sleep, especially if the pillows aren’t just the way you like or if there is that one sliver of light under the door that is keeping you up.

Another helpful trick that is ABSOLUTELY FREE is a few minutes of meditation. This can be hard for those of us that struggle with contact racing thoughts or have difficulty concentrating on one thing, but it can still be done. For those who have never meditated before, my best trick to take long deep inhales and exhales, only listening and concentrating on your breath. After this has cleared your mind, other aspects of meditation like mindfulness and reflection can be added {whole post on meditation to come stay tune}, but this time is where you can be mindful and mindless at the same time, which sounds crazy, but soothes the soul and the mind, setting the brain up for rest and rejuvenation without all the physical and psychological stressors hanging overhead.

Overall, sleep is not just something we get to catch up on the weekend, but by getting into a routine, sleep hygiene is as important as our physical hygienic needs. I have shared a few tips and tricks I like to use and keep myself accountable because I know I am going to make healthier decisions and be more productive if I have had an adequate sleep, which I have had to learn the hard way! With sufficient levels of sleep, stress hormones and appetite-regulating hormones are stimulated at appropriate levels, but as soon as the body is functioning on less sleep stress and hunger hormones are thrown way off balance, which in and of itself can throw a wrench in your weight loss goals. Keeping yourself accountable for sleep is not something you will regret or feel grounded by, especially after a few restful nights, you will ask yourself why you hadn’t taken the time for some sleep hygiene sooner!

Go get some beauty rest my loves! Stay Beautiful -MM

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