Why does it seem so challenging to get eight hours of sleep? Are we too busy? Is it that we're so exhausted from work that we feel compelled to lounge in front of the TV until it's way past our bedtime? Why is it that we can put in the time at the gym and fuel our body with nutrient-rich foods, but when it comes to sleep, we'd rather function on fewer than eight hours?
Sleep isn't only essential for our mental health and overall wellbeing—it's necessary for our physical health, too. From recovery to fighting off illnesses, our bodies crave quantity and quality rest. So why don't we gift ourselves with rest? And what are some practical ways we can hold ourselves accountable for getting enough sleep?
Create Firm Sleep Boundaries
First, we can create and maintain firm sleep boundaries. Choose the bedtime and rise time that works best for you, and stick to it. It's that simple. Set the alarm on your phone (there are fantastic apps that'll ping you when it's time to start prepping for bed) and commit yourself. Keep to this schedule long enough, and you won't even need the alarm.
Don't Eat Before Bed
Eating three or fewer hours before bed is a big no-no, and having a large meal so close to your bedtime can interfere with the quality of your sleep. The same goes for alcohol or sugary beverages (stick to one small cup of herbal tea—too much liquid, and your bladder will be your midnight alarm clock). Be as serious about your diet boundaries as you are about your sleep boundaries. Aim to eat dinner at the same time each night to create a routine.
Keep A Sleep Log
One way to get serious about your sleep is to keep a sleep log. Track your hours, your quality of rest, and your dreams. You can even listen to sleep podcats, invest in a proper mattress, and using relaxation aids (essential oils, sleep teas, etc.) to improve your rest.
Treat Sleep Like You Do Your Workouts
Finally, treat sleep the same way you do your workouts. Take some of that motivation and consistency you channel into your gym time and direct it towards your sleep. Seriously. So much can change physically, mentally, and emotionally when we prioritize quantity and quality rest. The best part is? You can start tonight.