By Amiah Taylor
As a person who goes to the chiropractor weekly, listens to sleep affirmations and just ordered a $70 pillow online, you could say that I’m pretty invested in my sleep. I come from a long line of nappers, but I’m kind of the black sheep of the family because I’m an insomniac. I slept fitfully as a kid but in my adult years, I’m logging more and more hours as a night owl. Here are the small transitions that I’m making that are positively impacting me and leading to deeper and longer sleep. Feel free to partake as well, and maybe jazz up your own nightly routine.
- Stop People Pleasing
Do you remember the motto that D.A.R.E. had? “Just say no.” Well now it’s my motto too. It’s a thankless job putting in labor endlessly when the people around you are strongly entitled. And that goes for friends, family, neighbors, aliens, whoever it is that you’re spending time with. Your boundaries, in short, are the rules which dictate how other people can interact with you, speak to you, rely on you, etc. When people keep pushing you past your emotional or physical limits, learn to say no and mean it. I was on Twitter the other day and I read a quote that really resonated with me, “The only people who get upset when you set boundaries are the ones who benefitted from you having none.” Reclaim your time because it was yours to begin with. When you extract yourself from the uncomfortable situation of constantly bending over backwards for others and putting yourself last, better sleep will follow. With the surplus of time that you’ll have by implementing boundaries, you’ll have more time to eat nourishing foods, hydrate and focus on self care.
- Get in Touch With Your Lungs
I have just begun doing breathwork with Claudia Nanino, the breathwork expert here at Poplar, who like me is a gemstone fiend and is committed to self improvement. I remember internally laughing at the idea of breathwork when I first heard about it. Who would need help breathing? Well breathwork is having the last laugh because the answer is me. Breathwork is an ancient practice that heals your body with oxygen and promotes personal transformation and spiritual ascension. Interestingly enough, it can also give some people psychedelic effects without the consumption of drugs such as LSD. I have found that the deep and cleansing breaths that I’ve been guided to take not only have been emotionally purifying but also extremely calming. The days that I do breathwork turn into nights where all I want to do is nourish myself with a bath, eat a nourishing meal and then read until my eyes get tired. Breathing deeper may lead to you sleeping deeper.
- Pull Out Your French Maid Costume
When’s the last time you slept on freshly laundered sheets? Or splurged on something indulgent like a pillow spray with a soothing scent like lavender or bergamot? You deserve to have an environment that feels great to sleep in. From removing allergens and dust mites to protecting your skin from pesky bacteria build-up that can lead to acne, sleeping on clean sheets has many health benefits. And interestingly enough, a study by the National Sleep Foundation concluded that 73% of participants slept better on clean sheets. So there you have it, if you’d like to visit the land of sleep, your first stop may be the laundromat. In addition to having clean sheets, having a decluttered bedroom is also linked to deeper and more restful sleep. If your room is littered with dirty socks, half-empty water bottles, dishes that should be relocated and half folded laundry, no wonder you can’t get any good shut eye. A dirty bedroom will absolutely stress you out. While it’s normal for cortisol to spike as you wake up, it should decrease throughout the day, especially at night allowing for peaceful rest. Cleaning your room is probably the
easiest, prescription-free way to have better rest, and if you don’t believe me break out the detergent and the vacuum and see for yourself!
- Accept Rest as Liberation
On social media, I encountered the work that Tricia Hersey, who calls herself the Nap Bishop, is doing at The Nap Ministry. She encourages Black women to extract themselves from grind culture and unwind. According to her, rest is a form of resistance and sleep deprivation is a social justice issue. For African-American women specifically, dating back to slavery we were dehumanized and viewed as machines with our worth measured in productivity and perhaps fertility. Changing your perspective on rest may allow for you to get better sleep. If you view sleep as a hindrance, where if you were awake you could get more done, your mind will likely be occupied with your to-do list as you try to rest. But if you drink the same kool-aid that the Nap Bishop is sipping on, you’ll see that rest is liberating because it’s a break from capitalism, colonialism and even a way to connect to our ancestors.
- Indulge Your Senses
So this one may be a bit controversial because many doctors and health specialists say not to eat before bed. In my opinion, as long as you do it a couple of hours beforehand, you’re fine. I recently discovered a lavender chocolate bar that has a wonderful spa-like quality. After dinner, I’ve been having a few squares and it’s the equivalent of a nice long soak in a hot bath with a few drops of lavender oil. (Which is also one of my favorite things.) But for my tongue and not my body. I love how indulgent it feels to engage with your senses as you wind down for the evenings. I also like to pay attention to scent. I like the idea of smelling great, even if I’m just headed to bed. I spritz my wrists with a spray or two of my favorite calming perfume which has notes of vetiver and mandarin orange and settle into the slippery material of my favorite robe. Between the soft feeling of my freshly bathed skin, the calming aroma of my eau de toilette and the vivid memory of the chocolate squares I ate, I find myself in the right mindset to hit the sheets!
As you finetune your nightly routine, remember to also tweak your morning habits for optimum sleep. Working out in the morning can be a great way to drop your blood pressure and achieve deeper anabolic rest. And when you are working out, don’t forget to play some tunes. We have a new Exercise playlist available on Spotify!