Is sleeping better one of your New Year’s resolutions, or just something you wished you were better at doing? Well, you’re not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately a quarter of the adult population suffers from a sleeping problems, while an estimated 6% to 10% have an insomnia disorder.
A lack of sleep, the foundation goes on to claim, increases a person’s risk of cancer, anxiety, heart disease and more. The benefits, of course, counter all these things, and most recently, scientists even confirmed it impacts our “beauty.” Scientists from the University of Manchester conducted an experiment with mice, which found that collagen has a remarkable ability to replenish after a good night’s sleep; giving you that fresh, youthful glow in the morning.
But sleep, most importantly for us, impacts how we write. There are some writers who prefer to write in the middle of night, often waking up at 3 a.m. or 5 a.m. (there’s a club for this one) to get more writing done. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially if it gets the writing work done. What is wrong, however, is when we start skimping on hours of sleep. Dimentia, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive issues later in life are linked to poor sleep quality during the earlier part of it. It’s best to avoid triggering anything, everything that can affect our mind and thinking.
There are ways to make sleep a priority and take advantage of the 7-9 hours recommended for adults each night.
- Track when you wake up, go to sleep. We created a Sleeping Journal printable for you to track how you sleep. Note when you go to bed, how you feel and then again what time you wake up and how you feel. This will help you find what amount helps you feel your best each day.
- Create a sleeping schedule or ritual. A good schedule relies on your morning and bedtime routines. Stick to something with those two and you’ll have a sleeping schedule that’ll stick. If you need to leave the house at a certain time, work your way back from there, noting the must-things you need to do (morning coffee, a little bit of exercise) and the time it takes for you to complete. Do the same for your bedtime routine, working your way back from when you need to be in bed.
- Follow the moon’s rhythms. You don’t need to be a budding astrologer to follow the moon’s phase and craft a sleeping schedule around the lunar cycle. From new to full, or when the moon is waxing, it’s a good time to get as much sleep as possible, not forcing your body and energy and ensuring that you have sufficient—if not more—amount of sleep each night. As the moon goes from full to new again, or the waning phase, you can risk not getting as much, but don’t overdo it and stay within the average of seven hours.
- Turn off all electronics—unplug them, if you must. Turn off your cell phone, or keep it in airplane mode, then unplug any other electronics not in use around your bedroom. The goal is to keep the energy in your bedroom as low as possible.
- Get rid of the nagging to-do’s. Check your to-do list for tomorrow, creating goals of what you will do and when throughout the day. If it’s nagging you, create a plan to tackle it tomorrow or in the coming days.
- Invest in good, dark curtains and shades. Your eyes and melatonin—also known as the hormone of darkness because of how it responds to light—will thank you. Studies have shown the effects of melatonin with improving sleep, particularly patients with insomnia and other sleep disorders. How do you produce this hormone? Naturally with darkness, sleeping in a bedroom with little to no light. This signals to your body that it’s time for bed. Other ways, taking melatonin as a pill or liquid, but talk to your doctor for best dosage and to create a plan on how to take it.