While self-care is all about balance, most of us find ourselves dropping the ball mid-balancing act from time to time. Even for the most organized and well-rounded individuals, managing stress, health, fitness, relationships, careers, family dynamics, spirituality, and social lives isn’t exactly a walk in the park. On the contrary, practicing sufficient self-care can feel less like a stroll and more like a marathon.
And we occasionally find ourselves attempting to sprint to the finish line only to burn out with many miles to go. While all aspects of self-care are essential, certain aspects of self-care, like getting a sufficient amount of sleep, must take priority over other elements.
Sleeping on Solid Ground
This prioritization isn’t necessary because getting an adequate amount of sleep is more important than say, getting a proper amount of exercise. Instead, it is essential because getting sufficient sleep is a mandatory prerequisite to every other aspect of self-care. While one may eat well and exercise regularly, skimping on sleep can ultimately end up undermining all of their well-intentioned efforts. After all, a stable self-care routine is built upon a solid foundation, so let’s get back to self-care basics and focus on fundamentals first.
Sleepless in Society
According to The National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 18 and 60 years require a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night to properly function throughout the day. However, approximately 35 percent of all adults in the United States don’t get nearly enough sleep.
Perhaps, this is because modern society seems to sell us a misguided mindset in which sleep is viewed as unproductive and a waste of our valuable time. However, while contemporary society may still see resting as a lazy luxury, modern science sees sleep as not only a necessity but, furthermore, a priority.
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A Good Night’s Sleep
According to the CDC, getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night can result in an increase in stress levels, memory loss, a loss of coordination, and feelings of fatigue. Sleep-Deprivation can take a profound toll on our body and our minds; staying awake for a mere 24 hours straight can result in a mental state that is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol content of 0.10 percent. And considering a blood alcohol content of .08 % and above is considered illegal in the US, pulling even an occasional all-nighter is just not worth it. Sleep deprivation can also disrupt hormone production while simultaneously throwing your appetite, metabolism, stress level, and immune system, for a major loop.
Sick and Tired
The longer one goes without sufficient sleep, the more serious the effects are on one’s health, and the less they’ll be able to care for themselves properly, much less their families and loved ones. Potentially severe problems that can result from prolonged sleep-deprivation include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, obesity, depression, and low libido. Staying awake for three days without any sleep can have significant effects on one’s physical and mental health, leading one to experience paranoia, hallucinations, and mood swings.
Over time, insufficient sleep can lead to the development of premature wrinkles and dark circles underneath the eyes. Research has also linked a lack of sleep to an increase of stress hormones in the body, specifically cortisol, which in turn, begins to break down your skin’s hottest commodity- collagen, not to mention, cause you to feel severely stressed out.
Asleep At The Wheel
After 48 hours of no sleep, one’s cognitive performance gradually begins to worsen. Eventually, a phenomenon known as microsleep causes the brain to start checking out. One begins to completely lose consciousness for brief periods lasting anywhere from a fraction of a second up to 30 seconds. You know those long blinks you used to have to fight during a particularly boring class? You guessed it- microsleep.
Therefore, an insufficient amount of sleep increases the likelihood of one being in a dangerous accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, US police reported 90,000 car accidents involved sleep-deprived drivers in the year 2015 alone. Even more disturbing, ‘drowsy driving’ resulted in the loss of 795 lives in 2017. So, if you think about it, getting sufficient sleep isn’t just about self-care, it’s about caring for the well-being of others, too.
While symptoms resulting from insufficient sleep tend to vary significantly in degree and severity from person to person, one thing seems to be certain across the board; sleep is a pillar on which successful self-care routines rest heavily. Eventually, a lack of balance in one’s sleep schedules will inevitably throw off-kilter every essential aspect of self-care.
Therefore, simple little things like setting a bedtime routine and sticking to it, cutting back on the caffeine, and turning off the TV, are a few simple ways one can begin to develop a consistent and sufficient sleep schedule. Even just taking a few deep breaths can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better throughout the night. Try sprinkling a few drops of lavender oil into the palms of your hands (just 1 or 2 drops), rub your hands together, and inhale a few deep breaths of the calm, relaxing scent before drifting off to dreamland.
Read a soul-nourishing book before bed or listen to calming meditation music or nature sounds to fall asleep faster. Take a warm bath and add Magnesium & Amethyst Deep Relax Bath Soak to relax the nervous system and promote deep sleep. Or partake in a cup of valerian root or chamomile tea or journal before bed to help release any conscious or subconscious distractions.
Keep your cell phone in another room at night or put it out of reach and on ‘do not disturb’ to help your mind wind down a bit before bed. Try ‘kicking it old school’ by utilizing an actual alarm clock instead of a modern mobile alarm clock to help you to get up on time (versus pressing snooze 14 times in a row, only to end up rushed, running behind, and unnecessarily stressed out).
Spritz your space with Beat The Blues Pulse Point dreamy room spray before bed for a delightful blend of essential oils known to balance mood and ease tension. Or take 5 minutes to give yourself a little neck massage with Muscle + Joint Body Oil, which uses natural plant anesthetics to counter joint and muscle pain.
Last but not least, attempt to consciously honor your sleep routine, for sleep repairs every cell in the body, and presses the reset button on your mind, as well. By identifying your priorities and proactively practicing awareness of your overall health and well-being, you just might find, you get what you need.