“I’m so tired!”
That’s usually the answer I get when I ask most of my friends and clients “How are you?” This answer seems to be particularly epidemic among those who have small children, demanding jobs, stress or a social life. Does that cover about everyone? The cause of the fatigue is not surprising. But the damage to your body, mind and spirit can be.
When I get enough sleep, I am the active, creative, loving woman I want to be. When I get less sleep, my temper is shorter, I view small challenges as catastrophic and my communication skills become impaired. The affects weigh particularly heavily on those I love. Does this sound familiar to you?
These are the obvious signs of fatigue. But what other signals is your body sending you that you may not be recognizing?
A study by the CDC reported that 10% of adults report not getting enough sleep[i]. But what is “enough?” Are you going by a number that you think should be “enough”? Or are you really listening to your body?
Your body could be crying out for more sleep if
- Your immune system seems challenged (i.e. frequent illnesses such as colds or flu).[ii]
- You frequently feel blue or depressed.[iii]
- You are gaining excess weight[iv]
- You are having challenge with menstrual regularity or fertility[v]
When we are constantly feeling bogged down by some or all of the above symptoms, the media and access to internet sites that encourage self-diagnoses might lead us to assume the worst. But before you go there in your mind, it may be worth trying a few tweaks to your lifestyle and nutrition habits. You may be surprised at the results you get with minimal changes.
- Avoid caffeine, sugar and alcohol. Drinking wine with dinner or having a coffee and dessert or after the meal may feel relaxing at the time. But when your body is preparing to sleep, these stimulants will still be hard at work, promoting wakefulness. If you must consume caffeine, keep it to a minimum and do so as early in the day as possible. Find desserts and beverages that promote healthy digestion. Try a cup of hot ginger or peppermint tea to support your digestion and opt for some berries or baked apples with cinnamon for dessert.
- Create a bedtime routine. When you are helping a small child wind down for the night, you have a list of usual activities that they learn to recognize as cues that lead to bedtime. They recognize and appreciate the comfort of this schedule. What is your bedtime routine?
- Turn off the TV. Watching the news right before bed is not always the most peaceful way to begin your night’s rest. Read something light instead or talk about your day with a loved one. Use calming scents such as lavender. A drop or two of a high-quality essential oil on your pillow can do wonders. Fill a sink full of warm water, adding a couple of drops of lavender oil and use a wash cloth to cleanse your face and body to create a spa-like experience that will relax your senses.
- Try a hot cup of chamomile tea. Use high-quality organic tea with calming herbs such as chamomile to help you unwind.
- Connect with your spirit. Make a list (in your head or on paper) of things that you are grateful for. Say a prayer or connect in a way that is comforting to you.
Using these techniques, you may find that your sleep is more sound and you, therefore, feel more rested with the same amount of sleep as you were previously getting. Or you may find that you are enjoying your restful time more, and realizing that you need more sleeping time. Listen to your body and honor it’s cravings for rest and relaxation.
Incorporate some or all of these tips into your daily routine and notice the benefits in your health and your life. Need more support or guidance around creating a routine that suits you? Let me know and I am happy to help.
But for now, I’m going to bed.