I found that things that work well in my life, that contribute to my health and well-being take thoughtfulness, work, and diligence. So it was not surprising the same has been found when it comes to me getting quality rest on a nightly basis. Here are the 3 best practices I found to achieve quality rest on the regular…
1.) Avoid stimulants
So…what’s a stimulant? A stimulant is anything that raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body.
While you might know that caffeine is a stimulant, and you should stop consuming it 4-6 hours before going to bed, a stimulant is also things like light, exercise and mental stimulation.
Light tells our brains that we should be up and be active. That is counterproductive to falling and staying asleep. The blue light especially that is emitted from electronics creates brain stimulation to be and stay awake. So I am extremely aware of all intense lighting at night in the hours before I go to bed. Soft lighting and avoiding electronics about an hour before I go to bed is my general rule.
Another stimulant that we might not be aware of is greatly increasing our heart-rate over an extended period of time right before bed. I avoid any high-intense cardio workout right before bed and if I do partake in a nightly cardio session, I make sure it ends at least 2 hours before my designated bedtime.
Finally, reading a book, watching a movie or playing a game that requires high-level thinking or emotional management can impair your quality rest, and should be avoided several hours before bed. So bedtime is not the time to read that book about understanding quantum physics!
2.) Promote sleep
Find things that help promote sleep that work for you. Here are some things that I have found to help me fall and stay asleep…
Essential oils: Applying essential oils to my shoulders, especially lavender and eucalyptus, promotes almost instant relaxation within me. There are other oils that are known to promote sleep, like chamomile and vivitar, and most oil companies have nighttime blends, so find what works best for you.
Magnesium Lotion: At least half of the US population is deficient in magnesium, even people who eat a nutrient-dense diet. This is because our soil is magnesium deficient as well, so those fruits and veggies grown in the soil do not hold the magnesium levels they once did. Magnesium is an important mineral for many functions in the body, especially the conversion of vitamin D, but it also promotes GABA in the body for sleep. You can purchase magnesium lotion online, but if you want to make your own click here for a great recipe from Don’t Waste the Crumbs.
Comfortable sleepwear & sleep mask: While most of my life I’ve always just grabbed an old, and sometimes holely oversized shirt, I have in the past year invested in some extremely soft, extremely comfortable sleepwear, and it has made a huge difference in my rest. For one, it helps that I use my sleepwear only for sleep and so I only associate those clothes with rest. I put them on, and my mind and body know it’s time to settle and prepare for rest.
And I top my sleepwear with a light-eliminating, soft and comfortable sleep mask, so that any changes in light that happen, such as a bathroom light being turned on etc., it doesn’t interrupt my sleep. Again, avoiding the stimulation of light during sleep.
Soft and breathable sheets and comforters: I do not like to sweat or feel itchy and scratchy while I sleep. These things, body temp and skin reaction, can actually act as stimulants and keep us from achieving REM sleep, which is the restorative sleep that we need for quality rest.
Teas: I was skeptical as to whether sleepy teas would do anything to get me ready for rest, but surprisingly (at least to me) they HAVE helped and I have included them in my nightly routines. While some people stick to a simple chamomile tea, I prefer the herbal blends that promote sleep.
Supplements: While this can always be a controversial subject, I have used supplements such as melatonin and L-Theanine to help me achieve quality rest.
Here are some general rules I give myself when it comes to supplements. First, I research side effects and how the supplement works within the body. Second, unless directed by a doctor, I start with the lowest possible dose, and only increase if I am not getting the results desired and I am not experiencing any side effects.
Lastly, I look at my daily routine, things going on in my body (hormone fluctuation can really impact sleep) and stressors in my current life that could be causing the need for supplements, and I see if addressing these issues can reduce my need for daily supplements. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t.
3.) Go to God.
I have found that ending my day in God’s embrace is the best way to set up for quality rest. Just as starting my day with God puts me on the right path for the hours before me, the same goes for the end of my day.
I try to make it uncomplicated and easy to remember, because sometimes (most of the time) at the end of my day I can barely remember my own birthday, let alone some complicated prayer or scripture. For this alone, I love the very simple A.C.T.S. prayer and then following with the Lord’s Prayer to finish my day. It’s simple and easy to remember, but it turns my heart and mind towards God, and gets me on that path to quality rest.
The ACTS prayer can be done at any point in your nightly routine, but I have found that it works best for quality rest when I have laid down and prepared myself to go to sleep. I begin with taking some cleansing belly breaths. Breathing that requires my belly to rise and fall as I inhale and exhale. This breathing slows my heart rate and begins to quiet my mind. After 3-5 belly breaths, or when I feel my mind and body give in to rest, I start going through the ACTS prayer…Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
- Adoration: I pour out my love for God. I let my love for God settle throughout my body, from my mind, to my heart, to my soul.
- Confession: I confess any sins from my day, and any sins a continually struggle with regularly.
- Thanks: I give thanks to God for today’s blessings, and his love and guidance in my life.
- Supplication: I bring my requests for the needs of others and myself.
Once I have completed my ACTS prayer, I take another 3-5 cleansing belly breaths, and then I end with the Lord’s Prayer. I’ll admit that sometimes I get through the entire prayer and sometimes I will fall asleep before I have finished. Either way, I have set myself for rest that will renew my mind, my body and my spirit.