Courage to Caregivers_Kristi Horner 6_18_20
Now more than ever, we all need to take time to recharge. This week’s topic – sleep – is the body’s natural way of recharging our emotional, mental, and physical batteries every night.
Yet, studies show that one-third of American adults don’t get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Just getting to sleep is an issue for many people. And physical problems, environmental disturbances, or emotional concerns can often interrupt a good night’s sleep.
I’ve had plenty of issues with sleep, and I’ve found that having a consistent routine around sleep hygiene has made a huge difference. Here are some things I do to help me get to sleep:
- Get plenty of exercise during the day. My goal is to get 3,000 to 10,000 steps a day.
- Turn off all technology at least one hour before bedtime … my goal is two to three hours before bedtime … and no TV in the bedroom!
- Limit caffeine. I’ve tried this in many ways, and no caffeine after my morning coffee works best for me.
- Don’t eat after 8 p.m. Did you know that some foods (citrus, spicy, fatty, and heavy) can disrupt your sleep? I’ve set a goal to “close” the kitchen after dinner.
- Control the lighting and temperature. I’ve removed just about all the ambient lighting in the bedroom and turned down the thermostat a notch. Did you know that cooler temperatures help you sleep better?
- Once I’ve checked the above boxes and tucked myself in to bed at night, I say a prayer of gratitude for all the good in my day.
Another way to improve sleep quality is to focus on your breathing. One thing we’ve heard over and over again from the participants in our breathing meditation classes is that they get their best night’s sleep of the week after the classes! That’s because of the great work of our facilitators – Polly, Sarah, and Cathy.
Here are some breathing techniques that have helped me:
- 2:1 Breathing – There are different variations of this, but in all of them, the exhale is twice as long as the inhale. For example, breathe in for a count of four, then exhale for a count of eight. Or try a five count for the inhale and a ten count for the exhale. Just be sure the ratio is 2:1. This stimulates the relaxation response and prepares the body for sleep.
- 4-7-8 Breathing – This is the same as above, but with the added step of retaining the breath for seven counts before you exhale.
I can tell you from experience that if I wake up at night, focusing on my breath instead of whatever is repeating through my head can help me get back to sleep.
Maybe it can help you, too. Consider joining us for a breathing meditation class soon. We’d love to have you!
Founder and Executive Director
Courage to Caregivers