Sleep: Building A Balanced You!
A few weeks ago, I began a series called, “The 4 Components To Building (And Maintaining) A Balanced You!”. If you missed my live event introducing the series, click here to check it out.
As you know I recently began my journey as a life coach, helping professional women who juggle too much find balance and joy! There is a common theme that I have observed amongst these women. They are exhausted. Overwhelmed. Stressed out. And they often feel guilty when they practice self-care. The thing is, if we don’t take care of ourselves and ensure that our bodies are functioning optimally, then chances are we aren’t going to have the energy to do the things necessary to be successful in day to day life. Many people don’t even know what it feels like to function optimally because they have been running on fumes for as long as they can remember. There is a period of my adult life that I only remember bits and pieces of because of this exact neglect. I was not taking care of myself. And if you would have asked me why back then I probably would have laughed in your face, rolled my eyes and kept it moving. Because in my mind, I didn’t have enough time to take care of myself. Oh, if I knew then what I knew now. Even more so, if I could FEEL then what I FEEL now. Knowing what it feels like to have a full (or almost full tank) most of the time is a game changer. And I am so much more productive! Stay with me here….
I believe that the key to success STARTS with a solid foundation. Notice I used the words “STARTS with”. We will talk about what comes after the foundation is built later. But for now, let’s focus on what makes up that foundation. There are 4 components to building and maintaining a solid foundation….they are, and in this order….sleep, nutrition, exercise and mindfulness. For the next several weeks, I am focusing on each of those four areas individually. Over the last week, I have focused on the most important of the four – SLEEP! (This also happens to be my favorite, as well!)
I started with my weekly Wednesday live event, focusing on sleep. If you missed it, check it out here. In the video, I shared that 1 in 3 Americans does not get enough sleep. 1 in 3, can you believe that? Enough sleep according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society is at least 7 hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being. Now I think this is an appropriate time to pause and remind you of this…YOU know yourself and your body best. For some people, 7 hours is plenty and for others upwards of 8+ hours is what they need. 7 hours of sleep each night is simply a guideline. (I find that I feel my absolute best when I get between 8-9 hours of sleep!)
Did you know that women are sleepier than men, on average? According to The National Sleep Foundation, this is a fact. Why do you think that’s the case? Could it be that women typically carry more responsibilities than men? Check out the article to learn more.
For those of you that aren’t getting enough sleep, here are four tips to consider in order to get a solid night sleep:
1. Be careful about what you eat and drink a few hours before bed.
You probably already know to restrict afternoon and evening caffeine, especially if you have a difficult time falling or staying asleep. Snacking can cause spikes in your blood sugar resulting in restless sleep. And alcohol may sound great since it often induces sleepiness. However, once it fully metabolizes you’ll find yourself wide awake.
2. One of the most common causes of sleeplessness is a mind that won’t shut off.
Examine the last few hours of your day and determine what may be getting your mind going. Are you checking work emails that may be getting you fired up? Are you rehashing the day’s events or a problem you are dealing with? You may want to consider some relaxation strategies or even visualizing solutions to the problem, even if it may not be realistic.
3. Set a schedule and stick to it.
Our bodies operate on rhythms. When you vary your schedule, it throws your system off, making it difficult to take advantage of your natural sleep times. Many people relax their sleep schedules on the weekends. Have you noticed how hard it can be to get going on Monday morning? These Monday morning blues is partly due to a jet lag effect you get from varying your sleep too much even for those two to three nights. Do you really want to put yourself through that every week?
So why is sleep especially important for women? Well, in addition to what we have already covered, prioritizing your amount of sleep each night will help strengthen your immune system, improve your mood and allow you to handle stress better. Now I don’t know about you, but as a professional woman juggling a whole lot, I don’t have time to get sick, I am much more pleasant to be around when I’m in a good mood and I need all the help with stress I can get! Additionally, according to Ashley Coff, RD, “Cutting-edge science shows how critical sleep is to our ability to stay focused, able to learn new things and remember old things, lose fat and keep excess weight off, and generally lower the risks for a slew of health problems such as heart disease, obesity, and cerebrovascular disease.” Click here to learn even more about why sleep is so important for women.
I invite you to consider the following questions as you think about the quality of your sleep and what emphasis you place on it each day:
-what is the average amount of sleep you get each night?
-how do you feel when you wake up each morning?
-how do you feel when you go to bed each evening?
-on a scale of 1-10, 10 being 100% willing to make a change, where does your willingness to make changes in support of better sleep fall?
If you aren’t satisfied with one, several or all of your answers then you may want to consider making sleep more of a priority. I’m happy to talk with you one on one and explore coaching options on the topic of sleep and building (and maintaining) a solid foundation. Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking here and filling out the contact form.
Stay tuned for my next blog which will be all about nutrition – the second component in building (and maintaining) a balanced you!