I’ll confess: sleep is a struggle for me. It’s also the most important factor as to what kind of a day I’m likely to have.
The ease or lack thereof that I experience in sticking with my healthy habits starts the night before. Getting enough sleep is my “keystone habit:” the habit that all the other habits rely on for structural support, like the keystone of an arch in architecture.
When I get good sleep, my whole day is easier: I get up and meditate more deeply. I’m more likely to enjoy my evening workout rather than drag my ass through it. I’m less likely to crave caffeine or sugar. It’s also way easier to be kind, flexible, and present, which is how I want to show up for my family and my clients.
But good sleep doesn’t just happen for me. So for the past three weeks, I’ve been making a concerted effort to increase my odds of a good night’s sleep: moving bedtime back by 15 minutes a night so that I can turn the lights out at 10pm. I’m taking an Epsom salt bath and anointing with essential oils before bed (spikenard on acupoint Kidney 1 and “peaceful sleep point” is my new favorite), and taking a break from stimulants. I’ve installed the nightshift app on my phone which prevents the blue light of the smartphone from messing up my melatonin production. Banyan Botanicals Tranquil Mind or I Sleep Soundly* also helps me quiet my mind before bed.
The most important thing for me is timing: when I go to bed by 10pm, I avoid the second wind that prevents me from from falling asleep. In Ayurveda, the fiery pitta element kicks in at 10pm; in Chinese Medicine, the very yang Wood element goes into overdrive between 11pm and 3am. It’s a really good idea to be asleep during these hours, otherwise the fire that kicks in to clean the blood and detoxifying the body doesn’t happen as effectively.
If you’re not asleep by 10, you’re much more likely to catch that second wind that could keep you up late even when you’re wiped out.
To help you remember your sleep self-care, download my free Tip Sheet for 20 Tips for a Great Night’s Sleep. Hang it on your fridge.
Sleep may not be your keystone habit. For some people, it’s exercise. If you move more, you feel more energized. Therefore you’re less likely to prop yourself up with food or stimulants like coffee and sugar. You’re more likely to get deep sleep as a result. For others, it’s meditation. Sitting in silence, starting your day from a place of centered groundedness means that you make decisions from the inside out, helping you stay stress free so you can sleep well.
There are 10 habits that all intertwine to provide a solid foundation for rock-solid health, handling stress like a champ, and aging optimally. They’re not mysterious. But are you doing them?
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