We all know that a good night’s sleep is a key ingredient for our health and wellness. There’s science to back this up. Our bodies and minds need sleep -- more specifically REM (our deepest sleep -- to recharge and rejuvenate, down to the molecular level.
But, for many of us, sleeping has become a chore to be slotted into our packed schedules, with falling and staying asleep turning out to be more work than rest. We used to adore crawling into bed for a juicy night’s slumber, and now we’ve got Bed Dread, a.k.a. sleep procrastination.
So why are we falling out of love with sleep? And more importantly, what’s stopping us from reclaiming this precious gift of self-care we can give ourselves and our bodies? According to our informal survey of friends and family, the reason is: LIFE. Stress, work, technology, over-programming our days…these all contribute to us getting less than the optimal amount of sleep. We know we’re not doing ourselves a favor, but why can’t we stop?
What are the signs of Bed Dread?
While you might spend all day looking forward to winding down and hitting the hay, when the time comes, instead of turning off, your imaginary switch flicks to ‘on’. You might go down any number of sleep procrastination rabbit holes, such as:
- Finishing just one–or 20–more household task(s)
- Completing that last piece of work or checking emails one more time
- Getting caught up binging a new ‘it’ show
- Convincing yourself to read just one more chapter
- Scrolling mindlessly through social media
Before you know it, it’s 2 a.m. and your ability to fall asleep easily has been tampered with and your sleep window dramatically shortened.
So what can you do to turn life off so you can turn in?
The good news is that sleep procrastination is not a permanent condition. You can fall in love with sleep again. The first step, like with anything else, is awareness of what’s sabotaging your sleep. And the next is to take action.
Try implementing any or all of these easy fixes to two major sleep saboteurs and banish bed dread forever.
Stress: Whirring mind, revved up body – that’s what stress feels like. And when our minds are spinning, it becomes much harder to fall asleep. We know that life is full of stress, so the key is to find ways to manage how much it impacts our life. Some strategies include:
- adding a physical outlet like regular movement to your day, even if it’s a midday walk
- focusing on work/life balance and mentally leaving work when the proverbial laptop closes
- downloading your to-do lists, worries or thoughts –business and personal – into an agenda or journal.
- if working from home, setting up your workspace away from your sleep space so that you can separate those two parts of your life
- engaging in a mindfulness and gratitude practice, including breathwork and meditation
- balancing stress with other enjoyable activities that ‘fill your cup’– hobbies, sports, clubs, social time with friends and family
Sleep hygiene: Whether we want to admit it or not, we all thrive on routine, and one around bedtime is the key to a quality sleep. Some ways you can improve your sleep hygiene are:
- going to bed and waking up around the same time every day (yes, even on weekends!)
- being aware of how your body reacts to stimulants like caffeine and sugar and limiting those in the afternoons and evenings
- turning off technology ––that includes Tik Tok – at least an hour before bedtime
- setting reasonable boundaries for yourself around your TV time (no, Netflix, we don’t want to watch another episode)
- creating a calming wind-down bedtime routine for yourself, such as taking a warm bath or shower, reading a good book, listening to a podcast or meditating
- focusing on creating a restful sleep environment, such as incorporating soothing colors, soft lighting, or comfortable furnishings
- making sure you have the right mattress and pillows for your sleep style