Self-care has become a buzz term on social media, from self-care routines going viral, to the most recent wellbeing gadget trending on our TikTok page. Candle-lit bubble baths and face masks aside, there are multiple ways to express self-care, and one of the more important ones (in our opinion) - you might be surprised to hear - is sleep. Read on to find out why, and how we can improve our sleep to better ourselves.
You know the drill when it comes to self-care: we picture hot bubble baths, our favourite scented candles and a soothing face mask to top it off. And whilst this is a valid, and very luxurious form of self-care, it’s not always the most effective when it comes to our mental or physical wellbeing. Taking care of ourselves comes in so many different forms, especially when everyone’s self-care will look different.
What is self-care?
To put it simply, self-care is any act that we do to put our health - whether that’s mental, physical, emotional, spiritual or other - first and foremost. It could be anything from visiting the spa to have a relaxing, recharging day to get our mind and body in a better place, or finally booking that blood test that we’ve been avoiding for months.
The point is, it’s not this glamourous trend that we should be taking part in to feel ‘pretty’. Actually, self-care can be ugly and very difficult! But, that’s why it’s called self-care. Because we are valuing our own wellbeing enough to make tricky decisions that will help us in the future, whether that’s the near future or in the long run. You can read more about self-care over on this blog.
All the Beingwell pillars are forms of self-care: Eating well, moving well, coping well, thinking well and sleeping well. Each of these aspects of our lives are crucial to look after to make sure our wellbeing is in tip-top condition! But it might seem unusual to see them as forms of ‘self-care’.
When it comes to sleeping well, it may seem even less obvious. That’s because it’s something we do regardless - we all need sleep, we all go to sleep, and we all have some existing relationship with sleep, whether that’s good or bad. But when life gets busy, stressful and balancing everything gets a bit overwhelming, it’s hard to associate that with the sleep we had the night before. Sure, we might notice that we could’ve done with a few more Z’s to not be falling asleep in the toilets at work, but how does it help us care for ourselves?
Sleeping well and self-care
We (hopefully) all know by now that sleep has a huge impact on our wellness. It impacts our productivity, our focus, our creativity, ability to think of new ideas, our mood, our relationships, our mental health, our cognition, memory, and so many aspects of our physical health too.
So when we don’t get the right amount of sleep to meet our own individual sleep needs, we put all of those factors at risk. We are subconsciously sending messages to ourselves that we aren’t prioritising these things by watching ‘just one more’ episode of Drag Race, or scrolling for ‘just five more minutes’ on Facebook. Then all of a sudden, it’s 3am and your mind is still buzzing…
Doing these things might feel good in the moment, but we’re making life much harder for our future self. When you face the dilemma of ‘5 more minutes procrastinating before bed’ or ‘getting some sleep’, try and think about how you will feel the next day. If you know that going to sleep now will help you focus better at work, you won’t be feeling groggy and tired, and you’re less likely to snap at your colleagues - then you have the answers! However it’s not always as easy to implement it in the moment.
Revenge bedtime procrastination
Yep, it’s a real thing. Bedtime procrastination is when we avoid going to sleep to spend time doing things we enjoy - or just having some ‘me’ time. And we get it, after a long day of working, parenting, running errands or whatever else we get up to in our busy day-to-day lives, it can get to bedtime and we just crave a bit of time to spend on ourselves.
But, by doing this we are sacrificing our sleep which, as we now know, is the foundation of our wellbeing.
So what can we do about it?
First thing’s first, try to work out the root of your problems with sleep, that way we can start thinking of what solutions might help us. Are you a bedtime procrastinator? Ask your partner to cook dinner and schedule in some time to do something for yourself. Struggling to drift off? Check out some of our advice on sleep aids. Wide awake until 12am? Maybe you haven’t figured out your sleep type.
Once we know the issue and have a better idea of how we can solve it, having a sleep routine can help us stay on top of things. Creating a routine is different for everyone, especially around sleep, as we all have different sleep needs. If you’re a morning person, you might get up before 6am because you’re most productive at 8am for example. Maybe you can’t function until you’ve moved your body and therefore you hit the gym in the morning. Or maybe that all makes your skin crawl and the thought of getting up before 8:55am and crawling into the home office at 9am works better for you - roll with that! We’re all different, and fighting against what our body wants when it comes to sleep will only introduce more problems.
Winding down before bed is a crucial part of the routine. The routine can start from up to an hour before we actually sleep. Make sure in that hour before bed you’re doing calming activities that help you feel relaxed, that might be a warm bubble bath, watching a show you love or doing some light reading. Remember, the aim for getting to sleep is lowering our core temperature and reducing our heart rate - so no murder mysteries please!
Sweet dreams: Self-care is an important first step when it comes to our wellbeing. Unless we are making an active choice to take care of ourselves, then it’s going to be pretty tough to see any improvements! If you’re unsure where to start in the whirlwind of information on self-care out there, start with your sleep, and notice what prioritising that does for your wellbeing. And if you need a hand with anything, you know where to find us!