If you are like millions of people, worldwide you are probably not getting enough sleep. Many of us have become so used to skimping on sleep that we have forgotten how much we need.
Are you due for a sleep-cation?
Signs that you’re piling up a sleep debt include:
- Dark circles under eyes
- Catching every cold and flu going around
- Chronic exhaustion
- Poor memory and concentration
- Irritable and moody
- Sugar cravings
A “sleep-cation” is a little holiday where you focus on:
- Paying down your sleep debt
- Determining your “sleep sweet spot.” The number of hours you need to be feeling on top of your game – full of energy and bursting out of your skin!
Planning your sleep-cation
The goal is to determine the number of hours you need to wake up feeling refreshed. Once you make sleeping your optimal number of hours a habit you are well on the way to ensuring your energy levels remain constant throughout the day; you are focused, and those sugar cravings are a thing of the past.
You’ll need 5-7 days where you have no plans. No morning appointments or evening social engagements. You want to be free to go to bed as soon as you feel that you just can’t keep your eyes open any longer.
It’s also best to do this in your usual home environment as that is where you spend most of your sleeping hours
These days are all about paying down some of your sleep debt. The idea here is just to sleep as much as you want.
- Naps are encouraged (before 3 pm). Did someone say “Siesta!”
- Don’t set the alarm. Let your body wake up when it wants to.
- At the end of these three days, you should be feeling refreshed.
Days 4 to 7
These are the days when you are going to figure out your ideal sleep number. It’s a little different for all of us but usually, falls between 7-10 hours.
- Pick a bedtime that seems reasonable for your lifestyle and when you know, you usually feel tired. Going to bed when you’re not tired can be counter-productive.
- One hour before this put all your screen to bed for the night (TV, smartphones, and tablets). These gadgets are not your friends when it comes to sleep.
- It’s also time to get moody with the lighting. Ditch the fluoros and LED fixtures and go with some low-level lamp-light.
- Now sleep through until you naturally wake up.
Repeat this for three to four nights and you should see a common theme emerge. That is you start waking up around the same time. That number is the number of sleep hours you need.
The next step
Now that you know your sleep number you can build your sleep schedule based on the needs of your everyday life. During your sleep-cation, you might have been going to bed at 10:30 pm and waking up at 6:30 am making your sleep number 8hrs. If you need to be out of the house by up to 6 am to get yourself to work then, your regular sleep schedule should be a 10 pm bedtime. Be patient as it can take a little bit of adjusting for your body to get in this routine.
On the weekends make sure you don’t vary too much from this by having a long sleep in. This may make it difficult to get back into your routine during the week.
A sleep-cation can help to reset your sleep habits. Healthy sleep habits help you to win at life!
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Norelle Hentschel is a degree qualified Naturopath and operates a clinic in Crows Nest, North Sydney. She enjoys helping people feel better and can assist with a wide range of health conditions or general health maintenance.
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