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Making sleep a priority

Sleep and I have always had a very complicated relationship. But then again, don’t most of us struggle with sleep from time to time? Oh we want it. But we don’t always know how to get it. Or we know how, but life is a little crazy and we put it on the back burner.

Lately, I sit at my keyboard late into the night (staring at that evil blue screen) and write about making choices that improve your life while completely disregarding the fact that I should be SLEEPING because sleep is SO important to a healthy, happy life.

What a total contradiction I can be.

Like I said, I’ve always struggled with sleep. That’s not new, but since starting this blog, sleep has absolutely been put on the back burner.

I stay up writing and figuring out wordpress most nights and on the nights I take a little time off I stay up late and watch TV. Even though I KNOW that right now I have some sort of allergy that’s making it impossible for me to fall asleep. Even though I KNOW that our room is uncomfortably hot right now (and difficult to get cool) and I’ll probably wake up a couple times during the night to uncover. I’m averaging 4 hours/night right now.

I  can hardly pry my eyes open in the morning. Even on my sleep-in mornings, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.

How can I live an intentional life, put the energy into making good choices, if I’m too tired to function?

I read years ago a “random # of things that will improve your life” post, and a single sentence has stuck with me ever since. It said: if you don’t like this or that or whatever (I’m paraphrasing), then put on your big girl panties and change it. Ok, maybe the sentence has escaped me but the idea is very much alive (and, I suppose, at the heart of this blog).

I have’t been prioritizing sleep. Until now. This blog is all about making the choices and changes it takes to improve your life, and without a doubt, my life will be improved by more sleep.

Why is sleep so important?

No doubt we’ve all read about 10 different infographics and articles on the importance of sleep and what lack of it does to our bodies.

Just in case you need a quick refresher, prevention magazine lists some pretty scary side effects of missing out on your zzzs. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and accelerated aging of the skin are just a few of the lovely consequences. Not to mention a 26% higher chance of dying from any cause. Yikes.

I can attest to the fact that lack of sleep makes me more prone to anxiety, less able to function in a social setting, less productive and generally worse at life. I’m less successful at being a good wife or an intentional liver. (I’m leaving that, even though I just realized liver doesn’t mean what I’d like it to mean.) Oh and it makes me fatter, with bags under my eyes. My favorite.

Honestly, even though there’s a huge list of medically valid reasons to get enough sleep, the bottom line is that when I’m not sleeping well I feel crappy and every aspect of my life suffers when I feel crappy.

So again, why am allowing myself to be so exhausted?

The plan I am implementing right NOW

(or 5 ways to improve your sleep right NOW!)

Since I’ve always struggled with sleeping, there’s a few things I’ve done by habit for years that are meant to help with sleep in general, and I’m sure they do. I don’t drink coffee or tea after 1 pm, I take a magnesium/calcium supplement just before bed time, I use lavender and cedarwood essential oils to induce relaxation.

And then there’s all the good advice out there that I haven’t given a second thought to. Time to change that. I’ve picked the 5 things that seem like they will make the most difference and be the most implementable right now.

  1. Those darn screens. This’ll be the hardest for me. But I’m pretty sure I can do it. I’m giving up screens for at least 30 minutes before I hit the hay. No TV, no computer, no phone. No blog working-on.
  2. A regular sleeping schedule. Ok, no, THIS’ll be the hardest for me. I’ve read that it’s acceptable to have a variation of around 60 minutes without really damaging your schedule. I need to believe that. So I intend to be in bed by 11 and up by 8:30 at the latest. (It looks like I’m scheduling A LOT of sleep but it often takes me 2 hours to get to sleep and most mornings I need to be up at 7:30.)
  3. Supplementing with Vitamin D. I already do the magnesium/calcium thing, but apparently our bodies also need Vit D to really rest well. An article published recently by The Huffington Post talks about the relationship between Vit D and sleep. There are some that dispute it’s relevance, but I figure taking some extra vitamins certainly isn’t going to hurt me.
  4. No more wine. I’ve already cut back a lot, to save money and be healthier in general. But perhaps it’s time to cut back even on those weekend indulgences. It’s been proven that alcohol interferes with a good night’s rest, and there’s really no way to justify continuing to do things that we know are damaging us.
  5. I’m gonna try this coconut oil, honey, & salt thing I read about. In June, Lori from Health Extremist wrote this post where she talks about taking a spoonful of coconut oil, honey and salt to keep her asleep all night. (What wouldn’t I give to stay asleep all night long?!) Go check it out! She gives some really logical explanation as to why it should help, and it’s another one of those things that I figure definitely won’t hurt me!

I’ll update this post in a few months and let you know what worked and what didn’t, or if I had to try other things out. Is there anything that you swear by to improve sleep?? Is a lack of sleep causing you to lack intention?

Sleep: A new priority and a plan to get more of it