Feeling energized and alert throughout the day depends on how you manage your energy levels, how you handle stress factors, and adopting a healthy sleep pattern. Activities we get engaged throughout the day are ways that we use our energy. Resting is a way that we cultivate and re-store energy. We need to balance activity with sufficient rest each day. When we are rested we are more attentive and motivated.
Regular sleep patterns support mental and physical health. During sleep our body gets a chance to restore important operating systems like immune, skeletal, muscular, and nervous system. Sleep deprivation is very common in the industrialized countries mainly because of the exposure to artificial light on technological devices such as cell phones, computers, and tv screens.
In my observation lack of self-control is the main issue for restlessness. Because with self-control comes being better at organizing one’s life and more efficient behavioral patterns. With that said, there are some simple steps to help you improve the quality of your life:
- Finish eating your dinner before 8 pm. If you allow the body to digest properly 3 hrs before bed-time you will allow your body to rest during sleep instead of having it deal with digestion. This also depends on if you consumed a dinner that was easily digestible. A typical dinner plate consists of a one handful of grains, 3/2 of the plate filled with sautéed or roasted veggies. Or a bowl of soup and a green salad.
- Exercise regularly. Researches show that doing at least 10 mins of aerobic exercise a day helps improve sleep. I choose to workout in the morning about 15-75 mins before breakfast depending on the day. I find the early morning times easier to keep a consistent routine and my body is more energized upon waking-thanks to a good night sleep. Some prefers exercise before lunch time and others in the evening. Observe your level of energy during the day by testing different times to decide which works best for you so you can keep your exercise routine consistent each week.
- Drink water. Water makes up about 2/3 of our bodies (about the same amount that covers our planet). Water helps prevent dehydration which helps our organs to function better. By drinking adequate amount of water throughout the day you help your mind to focus better and optimize the functions of the body. As a result you feel less stressed and more vibrant throughout the day. Having a pleasant day helps you sleep well at night.
- At least 45 mins before bed get engaged in calming and relaxing activities such as reading a book, restorative yoga or relaxation breath. Any activity that might cause stress, excitement, or anxiety will stimulate the mind and the nervous system which will make it difficult to relax and fall asleep.
- After dinner instead of snacking drink naturally decaf teas such as camomile, peppermint, or lemon ginger with also help digestion. If you have sweet tooth add a teaspoon of honey in your tea. Make sure to drink these an hour before bedtime to avoid having a liquid full abdomen.
- Our body likes routines. Develop a regular sleep and wake up time even during weekends as much as possible. Avoid bright lights before bed time and inside your bedroom during sleep. Upon waking expose yourself to sunlight to lift your energy for the day.
- If you are highly stimulated in the mind practice acceptance instead of fighting the situation. Allow the thoughts to appear and give them permission to flow like the water in rivers or cars in traffic. Labeling each thought as “thought” and focusing yourself back to breathing in and breathing out will be a useful practice. Eventually the thoughts will fall into the background making it easier for you to fall asleep.
At times that I feel excited about an idea or an event that is planned for the next day I practice leaving the identity that is attached to the role that I will play. For instance if I have a meditation workshop scheduled for the next day I let go of the role “meditation guide” before I go to sleep. I call this practice “Peeling off the roles”. Lying on my back in bed in a neutral position with eyes closed I repeat “I am not the guide” and I visualize taking off that layer off my body like a piece of garment and feel the lightness of this act of letting go. The role will still be available to you when you wake up the next day. On days like this doing your preparation not close to bed time can help you sleep with the peace of mind.
In the case of sleep deprivation, you will need to look at the cause to understand the problem and to find an effective solution. A great starter for any issue is acceptance and openness to see it truly. You can take a contemplative intermission during the day to understand your problem better. What is keeping you awake and restless? By being open to see the root of your sleep deprivation you will get to know yourself better as well. Approach your challenges with curiosity and let them improve your life.