The Art of Counting Sheep.
Respecting rest is something I regrettably embraced much later in life than I should have. In fact, it is something I still struggle with, as I am a product of the multi-tasking generation that subscribes to the, "work hard, then work harder", or, "I'll sleep when I'm dead" ethic. Daylight Savings this week didn't help matters, either.
We are all familiar with the consequences of sleep deprivation-Memory loss, careless judgement, illness, compromised digestion and metabolism, depression, to name a few. Ironically, I've always known that I actually require more sleep than what is considered average (confessional: my magic number is 9 hours!), yet I have always foresaken it in favor of the accolades attached to being dubbed an overachiever.
Over time, this simply backfires. Productivity stagnates and detachment sets in, whether we are initially cognisant of it or not. It was slightly out of necessity rather than choice that rest and recovery finally garnered top billing in my life. I'm not saying I achieve my perfect, undisturbed 9 hours of sleep every night (in fact, my beloved canine makes certain that I don't-HA!), but developing a ritual for bedtime has dramatically increased the quality of the hours that are achieved, regardless of quantity. And those quality rest hours have a long-lasting and positive influence over the waking ones.
Prepare for the Part. In my post about Rituals, I shared a personal nighttime elixir for winding down. Turmeric Tea (or Golden Milk), serves as an instant mood-soother and introduction for a satisfying rest experience. In addition to that, it serves as a healthy replacement for evening snacking, a habit that plagues our sleep quality, as well as our waistlines. An assortment of aromatic and herbal teas on hand that are designed for bed time are equally beneficial for soothing all of the senses.
Stage the Part. Take inventory of your bedroom. Is it cluttered, confined, or otherwise "noisy"? What would make it a more serene experience and something to look forward to? I have been conditioned to be a night owl, so it never fails that my brain begins its second shift somewhere around 11pm. To assuage this threat, I invite all of the senses to participate in the process of diverting the brain's focus from consternation to winding down about an hour beforehand. As we've touched upon taste, essential oils are so effective for smell. Lavender and Chamomile are common and very effective go-to's, but I've especially been fond of cedarwood lately. It calms and focuses the mind, reduces inflammation, improves metabolism, and has such a pleasantly light, woody smell. Worth a try. Can't decide? Stress Relieving oil blends are equally effective.
A far less popular, but arguably the most essential change, is removing the stimuli that nags at our sight and our hearing. You guessed it, the television and/or smartphone. I can't even say I adhere to this rule completely, although I am very much aware of its importance. I absolutely suffer the consequences of bringing my phone to bed with me, but I offer instead a diversion from getting sucked into the black hole of social media at unnecessary hours. If you don't have the Insight Timer App installed on your phone, go ahead and do yourself a huge favor. It is a free app that offers guided meditation, chakra balancing, music, and affirmations that do wonders for quieting the mind. You don't even need to be versed in meditation to benefit from this. My favorite bookmarked sessions I don't even think I've heard in their entirety. I am fast asleep before they're complete! Many run as little as 15 minutes and there are hundreds of sessions to suit your individual preferences. With headphones, it is a quiet exercise that will not disturb others (like a television) and conquers those midnight musings that compromise our sleep goals. The improved quality of sleep is remarkable and waking up with a cleared, positive mind is something I really look forward to.
Look the part. Carefully curated skin and grooming routines announce an official shift in the day from active to rest. Again, this is an exercise that engages all of the senses and lifts the spirit. You will notice that I have a particular affinity for roses, so you will see this reflected in many areas of my life, including my skin care. Herbivore Botanicals is an all natural, plant-based, cruelty-free wellness line that I'm particularly fond of that makes the most satisfying Rose-Hibiscus Hydrating Mist. I take it everywhere with me.
Live the Part. Hands down, the largest investments I make for my home tend to revolve around my bedroom. I have never regretted a purchase investing in the quality of my sleep, whether it be towards my pillows, my mattress (it's totally adjustable), my bedding ensembles, decor or my sheets. Especially, the sheets. I'm a high-thread count, white egyptian cotton kind of girl, but insist on finding your own. It is essential to design and to dwell in a space that is comforting and inviting for you.
Rest is still, for me, the most challenging routine to respect. Even in this day and age with the rising acceptance of work-life mindfulness, proper rest in real life can continue to prove elusive. It is something that I constantly have to take inventory of and be mindful of, but it is so incredibly necessary. There are claims out there that state that one cannot "catch up" on sleep and that we are doomed by consequence. This is not something I lose any sleep over, literally or figuratively. I prefer to subscribe to a mindset that welcomes improvement at any stage of life over a, "use it or lose it", defeatist-type mentality such as that. It is always a perfect time in life to honor your overall health, your clarity, and peace of mind. Have fun in engaging your senses to create a routine that sings to your own unique tune.