5 Ways to Get More Rest

margin sleep Oct 26, 2017

Earlier this week I shared a FaceBook Live on getting more rest. And as a follow up I wanted to put together a list of things to do to make it happen.

As I looked back over the past two month I realized I spent a lot of time in rest, forced rest. In August, I began creating my online classes and I worked much more than normal. So, it should not have come to a surprise that I needed more rest. And this month I overdid it again, this time with packing in so many fun activities I didn’t rest. Once I realized it I got intentional and I took a moment to get fully present with myself to reflect on where I needed self-care. And I realized I needed rest.

Conventional advice will tell you to get more rest you will just need to get to bed at a decent hour. "I know, I know.” We say and we don’t do it. This is something that we all know to do and it is harder than it sounds. But often we lay there and can’t sleep so getting more rest when we’re staring at the ceiling makes us frustrated not sleepy. So, against conventional wisdom, I recommend this as the last change to make. Instead, start by preparing for bed differently.

Here are some different practical tips to getting more rest:

  1. Begin by setting up your environment. Design your bedroom for two activities: sleep and sex, that’s it. Remove your television (more on this later). Bring in room darkening curtains or shades. Set the thermostat temperature a little cooler to ensure you are comfortable, something not to hot and not too cold (the specific temperature setting is personal preference and one my husband and I disagree). I even use a white noise machine to drown out the road noise (and I’ve heard it works for the snoring).
  2. Embrace downtime. Allow yourself to recover and relax from the day before you climb in bed. Turn off the screen and dim the lights at least an hour before bed. Our technology, (phones, iPads and TVs) emit light rays which disrupt our cycadian rhythms, it prevents our body from naturally resting because we manufacture an environment which keeps us awake. Simply by turning the technology off and dimming the lights will begin to tell the body its time to start winding down. Instead of browsing your phone read a book, take a bath, or listen to soft music. The atmosphere you create the hour before bed will set the stage for falling asleep faster and sleep that is deeper.
  3. Reduce blood sugar and stressors to blood pressure. You may have heard not to eat 2 hours before bed as a way to keep your blood sugar from rising (if you haven’t, add that to your routine now), and I’m going to add reduce your blood pressure stressors as well. For example, do not watch action movies or the news 2 hours before bed. Both are designed to get you all keyed up. Regardless of your political perspectives the news is designed to push your buttons by talking about things you won’t like about what the other side is doing. Who can go to sleep with our blood pressure up that high? If you must consume the news, pick another time, just not 2 hours before bed. Similarly, action movies. Scientists have found that violent programming makes it harder to fall asleep and is linked to more nightmares.
  4. Be consistent with when you get up. While we all need to sleep in on occasion, it typically is not a pattern we need to make. Instead, research shows we get more rest when we actually get up at the same time every day. And by training our brain to get up at the same time it actually makes it easier for us to get to bed at the same time in the evening. Similarly, the only way to get to bed early is by getting up earlier. So, before you turn off the alarm on the weekend perhaps you should reconsider that you are working against a natural cycle in your brain and instead use a consistent cycle to your advantage and actually get more rest as a result.
  5. And plan time for a relaxing retreat. Instead of packing your weekend and your vacation full of activities, plan a day or two towards the end for some down time for the purpose of quiet and relaxation Go on a hike or long walk. Go to the library, tour a museum or visit a monastery — places which are dedicated to quiet.

What about the days you are exhausted or sick. When our body is in need of additional recovery take it seriously. Here are three more tips to getting more rest when you really need it:

  1. Take a nap: On days you are tired during the day take a nap. Did you know many corporate environments are installing nap rooms. When I first saw it I thought it was the craziest thing, however after hearing about the purpose and reading the research on my own I realized that a power nap can be ….well powerful. It can be just the boost of energy you need to get you through the rest of the day. And on the weekend, there can be nothing better than falling asleep on the couch for a bit of a snooze.
  2. Use Sick Days: As I said in my FB Live event earlier this week I took a sick day (well I took two). It’s what they are for. Many of us think sick days are reserved for when the kids are sick or for when we’re really bad or even contagious. However, as a people manager you really aren’t being productive if you’re stubbornly dragging around trying to get through the day. Change the mindset around those personal days, they are meant for recovery.
  3. Embrace cancelations. This past month, I had to embrace cancelations. First I had to cancel things to make time for rest. I realized I wasn’t going to get it unless I didn’t do X, Y or Z. So I canceled them and rescheduled them for another day. And second I had to change the way I used the cancelation that happened to me, for instance when opportunities came along that freed up my time I looked at the free time differently and gave myself permission to rest. This is not my nature, I’m a do-er, so when clients have to cancel or a meeting gets postponed the time typically fills up with something else. However, I knew I needed the rest, so this time I actually took a moment to get fully present with myself and before I filled it up I asked: do I need rest?

You see, one of the traps to losing our personal margin is lack of rest. You would think running around all day, wrapped up in busy-ness would mean we would be so
exhausted at the end of the day and we’d sleep like a baby. Nope, it actually contributes it insomnia because lack of sleep and overactivity can go hand in hand. Without rest, our bodies cannot recharge. And without recharge we run on empty, over and over and over. This was an endless cycle and a bigger factor to my personal overwhelm than I thought. So get your rest.

If you want more ways to get out of overwhelm, check out my new class: Overcoming Overwhelm!

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