Sleep Deeper: How to Get More Sleep + Meditation App

By Jenny Steadman June 12, 2015
We recently asked what topics you want to read about in Family Fitness and many people mentioned sleep. We all want to know how to get more sleep! 

I know it's hard. Many of you are up late with little ones, working at night, trying to get some much needed time in with your significant other and trying catch up on the DVR. 

It doesn't help that many of us have trouble getting our brains to quiet down. We worry, make to-do lists and think about all of the things we forgot to do. 

I encourage you to try to get just 30 minutes more sleep. How, you ask?
  • Quick cat nap during the day.
  • Go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
  • Go to bed 15 minutes earlier and get up 15 minutes later.
Your goal should be to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Some of you will say you only need 4-5 hours. Trust me when I say you are in survival mode. Your body needs 7-8 hours, at least. I urge you to look at the ways you keep your energy throughout the day. Do you drink a lot of caffeine? Eat a lot of sugar and refined carbs? Eat chocolate? These all give you temporary energy and also keep you from falling asleep at night. 

I know some of you are at a point in your life where a solid night's sleep just isn't going to happen. This is when I encourage taking a short nap or even an enforced time of quiet where your feet are up and you are not checking email or Facebook. When my oldest was in preschool and my youngest was still napping, I forced myself to sit on the couch, with my feet up, for 45 minutes. I could watch whatever I wanted on TV but no work. What a gift I was giving myself!

If your problem isn't having enough time to sleep but instead getting your body and brain to unwind enough to fall asleep, here are some tips that have helped me:
  • Set a time when you will stop looking at your devices. After 9 p.m., I plug in my phone for the night and, if I must do work on my computer, all social media is turned off.
  • For those of you that must be on a computer in the evening, get f.lux. This app changes the color of your screen after sunset to reflect more natural light. Gone is the blue screen and in comes a much warmer glow. Before electricity, people went to sleep when it got dark. There was no way to do things at night without adequate light. This is how our bodies want to be, but it's not how we live any more. We are up late watching TV, on our computers and devices and the back lit blue screen messes with our circadian rhythm. Melatonin is the hormone that helps us sleep and, without the dark, our body doesn't know to produce enough of it. (Android users, check out Twilight.)
  • Use room-darkening shades. I put these in my kids' rooms to help them nap during the day and sleep earlier in the summer but had never thought about putting them in our room. It makes such a difference!
  • Use a meditation app like Buddhify to help calm your mind. I am absolutely in love with this app. They have meditations for every time of day and every mood but, the "Going to Sleep" and "Can't Sleep" guided meditations are a lifesaver. Each meditation is anywhere from 5-12 minutes and I can't believe how quickly it helps me calm my mind so I can rest peacefully!
It's your turn. What have you done to help get better sleep?