Tool 5: Get Enough Sleep
How did you sleep? Did you toss and turn? Did you sleep like a baby? Did you barely get a wink??
2/3 of Americans indicate that they feel stress to be one reason they lose sleep. Americans in particular lead lives of endless multitasking with to do lists that are often left undone. Many of us think about all we did or didn’t get done at the end of the day and begin to prepare another list for the future.
How much sleep do you need? WebMD suggests that adults average 7 to 8 hours. However, some individuals may need as few as five and others may need as much as 10. Someone that gets five hours may have opportunity to nap throughout the day. There are many factors that contribute to these variations.The person that needs 10 may work shift work in a medical or industrial field, thus working for extended amounts of time.
Mental Health America indicates that we are more likely to be successful at completing future tasks if we get enough sleep. Poor sleep is linked to . . . . .
- Increased risk of heart disease and cancer
- Impaired memory
- Greater likelihood for accidents
- Greater risk for depression and anxiety
- Reduced immune system functions
- Weight gain
Sleep also allows you to enjoy a sense of well-being. So how can you increase the quantity and quality of your sleep?
1. Set a regular bedtime- You are never too old for a bedtime! As adults, we must set our own curfew. Our bodies actually desire consistency as it relates to the time frame in which we find sleep. Maybe you have found that you get tired at a similar time during the day? You may wake up at a certain time of morning rain or shine. Answer your body’s desire with setting a time frame for bedtime. You should plan and conduct your entire day with that time in mind. Put sleep on your schedule!
2. De-caffeinate yourself – Don’t worry, you can continue to have your morning cup of joe! Unless you have a long evening ahead of you, try not to have that afternoon caffeinated beverage or substance. Resist the caffeine starting six hours prior to you set bedtime.
3. De-stress yourself – Prior to preparing for bed find those things that sooth and relax you. To put it casually, “Zen Out” before your shut eye. Mental Health America suggests stopping next day preparations and retiring worries an hour before bed. Find certain things that relax you, force yourself to slow down. This is a great way to prepare your body and mind for transition into the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep you really need.
4. Exercise – Exercise improves sleep by calming the body. Yes exercise calms the body! Think of exercise as a gift from you to your body. Just as you wouldn’t drive a car without gas or write a check without money in the bank – you have to give to your body to get the performance you desire.
Exercise is a natural energy builder so getting physical exercise in before bed may make you more alert. It can be helpful to focus on stretching prior to sleep. Some Yoga and Pilates exercises can be helpful.
5. Make Your Bed A Sleep Haven – Don’t take your multi-tasking to bed. How often do we see images in media of actors reading, writing, eating, and watching TV in bed? It can be helpful to try and keep these things out of the bedroom. Many people feel these things help them get to sleep – maybe so.
What many people don’t keep in mind is the quality of sleep or the amount of time you spend in REM sleep. Don’t forget your brain is just as important as your heart and lungs when it comes to sleep. This is the one chance your brain has to shut down, rest, and prepare to support you for another day. It can be helpful to invest in your bedroom furniture and bedding. These things can help you enjoy the space and look forward to getting shut eye.
Tool 6: Create Joy and Satisfaction
Yes, joy and satisfaction are something you must create – they are not owed to you or handed to you on a silver platter. Add this to that to do list!!! As we age we forget to have true and genuine fun. It may be that there is not enough time or our interests change and we have yet to find that new item that brings joy and satisfaction. Search for it!
Just as cookies go into a cookie jar, we must fill our “good feelings” jar. We must have a stock pile of good feelings or things that bring good feelings. How you feel strongly affects your mental and physical health.
Mental Health America indicates that these good feelings can help us fight stress, solve problems, think with flexibility, and fight disease.
- Laughing decreases pain, helps your heart and lungs, and promotes muscle relaxation and can reduce anxiety.
- Positive emotions can decrease stress hormones and build emotional strength.
- Leisure activities offer a distraction from problems, a sense of competence and many other benefits. For example, twins who participated in leisure activities were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia than their fellow twins in one study.
Ways to Create Joy and Satisfaction: Laugh
A great way to experience joy is by laughing. Laughing is the ultimate signal of joyful feelings. What makes you laugh?? Maybe someone you know is their own stand-up comedian. Is there a show on TV that is sure to make you laugh? Find a movie that always makes you laugh, buy it, and watch it when you just need to hear that punch line.
There are also hobbies and interests that can bring you joy. Try to factor them into you daily lists.
Ways to Create Joy and Satisfaction: Have Fun
It can be hard to schedule fun into your day. Mental health American has these tips to assist you in scheduling fun into your life.
1. Free up time for Fun: Your new standing appointment should be Fun. Schedule it into your calendar as “Fun” and decide what would be fun for you that day. If you have little time for creativity find a fun activity and put it on the schedule. This may be something you enjoy independently or with your spouse, friends, or family. Nike would tell us to “just do it!”. Let’s follow their advice.
2. What do you like as a child: Yes channel your inner child. Who will know if you decide to paint with water colors in your backyard. Have you noticed that we never grow out of the joy of swinging on a park swing? Most importantly channel the spirit of a child. Children are always excited to try something new and have a unique way of finding fun and joy in any activity.
3. Do something you always wanted to do: We all have that something that makes us say “I’m going to try that one day”. When is one day? Can it be today, next week, or in a couple of hours?? Your brain craves a challenge; something new is healthy for your mind.
4. Pursue a creative interest: This may also be something you always wanted to do or stopped doing for some reason. Some are more artistically inclined than others. Artistic expression can be physically, mentally, and spiritualty healthy act. Listen to the whispers of creative inspiration. If you like nature – take pictures of the beauty you enjoy.
5. Do it with someone you love: There is nothing better than good times with good company. Only let those who are positive, supportive, and engaged in your effort to create fun tag along with you.
* Life is a balancing act. We will never be at a point of complete equilibrium. After all, we are perfectly imperfect human beings. What we can do is strive to be better, feel better, and live well.
Only four more tools to go!!