Everyone is ready for this fresh start. Like really ready. When it comes to any wellness practice in 2021, though, we need simple (myself included). Restrictive, complicated regimens have never been my thing anyway, but after the year we’ve endured as a collective, the littlest things we do need to matter.
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, in a letter to his daughter Ellen
So often I find that improved sleep is the most impactful first step on the road to better health. We are a sleep-deprived culture that normalizes habits that rob us of quality sleep. Devices designed to demand your attention, reliance on sleep aids and poor nighttime food habits are to blame for much of our struggle with this.
When I reflected on the catalyst for change I most often address with nutrition clients, it was sleep...far and away. Irregardless of the intended goal or initial focus that my clients approach me with, more often than not, we begin with conversations around sleep. When the integrity of our sleep is compromised, every wellness practice that follows is compromised as well.
I admit my ability to fully empathize with anyone struggling with sleep was pretty limited until this pregnancy. Holy #insomnia. I’ve always been someone who dozes off easily and sleeps hard through the night. My default is to wake up rested, in a good mood and with natural energy. Now I have a deep appreciation for quality sleep. This pregnancy, I’ve experienced restlessness for the first time and I will say the residual effects of a shitty night’s sleep are pretty debilitating. Suddenly I have an attitude about my alarm when that’s never been a thing before. Less sleep makes my morning workouts more challenging, afternoon naps a daily necessity, my mood a moving target and throws off my appetite. It’s wild. I have a new respect and soft spot for anyone who has toughed out productive days in spite of fatigue. Sadly, that’s a lot of us.
We’ve all been told that certain practices promote sleep but actually doing them regularly is the challenge. So instead of a lengthy, overwhelming routine, let’s talk bare bones.
Here are 3 things you can do before you turn in tonight.
1. Finish your last meal 2 hrs before bed
Ok this one’s major & will make a noticeable impact. I get asked all the time about intermittent fasting and best practices for getting started. Honestly, this is it. You can get more intensive, but every single person would benefit from a simple 12 hour fast and the easiest way to make that happen is by digesting well before bed and getting quality sleep. That’s it. Aim for your last meal to be 2 hours before bed & you’ll find that by creating that window, it’s much easier for your body to slip into a restful state come bedtime.
2. Sip magnesium
Once you start this habit, you’ll never go back. It’s that good, Promise. It’s a tried and true way to prepare your mind and body for sleep. Stir a spoonful of magnesium citrate powder into water (I like sparkling, personally) and sip on it 15-30min before bed. Magnesium is involved in over 600 processes in the body, including muscle relaxation. Because your intestines are governed by muscular movement, magnesium will aid in digestion as well by relaxing the muscles surrounding the GI tract.
3. Detox from devices
One thing that’s NOT happening in my bedroom this year is a bright screen in my face right before bed. We’ve all been told that blue light is terrible for our sleep, but how many of us are guilty of bringing our phone to bed to wind down? Historically, I use the notes app and calendar to jot down plans and reminders for the next day to get them off my mind before bed. It’s a great practice but counterproductive because I’m staring at a blue light to do it. Instead, I'm using a journal for reflection and my planner to get organized. I'm swapping out my phone alarm for a gentle sunlight-simulating clock and my phone will charge downstairs, out of sight.
If you are someone struggling to fall asleep or rest deeply through the night, know that I am right there with you at the moment. I hope these practices are helpful for you like they have been for me. Wishing you recovery and sweet dreams.