Sunday, June 29, 2014

My Top 10 "Unique" Tips for Better Sleep

In my last post I shared how I have recently set a goal for myself to get more sleep, and after two months or so of doing it, I've made sleep my new best friend and I feel better than ever...when I make it a priority that is. Read more about it here. Now I know for some of you that sleep doesn't come easy. You may find it easy to make all the time in the world for sleep, but the second you tuck under those covers, and close your eyes your mind does not get the message and you end up tossing and turning, sometimes for hours.

While I've never had insomnia, I have struggled with getting my mind to "turn off" from time to time. After having both my girls I found it much easier to fall asleep than before I had kids, mainly because this whole parenting thing is a bit exhausting.

But nonetheless, I still toss and turn from time to time, and over the years I've come up with a few tips and tricks to help me fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling much more refreshed.  Now as the title suggested, they are a unique set of tips. I mean we've all heard the suggestions to make your room dark and cool, and to drink a warm glass of milk before bed, etc. but these are some different tips that fit the slightly alternative, green lifestyle that I live that could maybe help you.

Watch a video breakdown of the tips in this week's video...

I'm sure this list may seem overwhelming and very high maintenance for some of you who are like my husband who could fall asleep on the couch, with the lights on, during an episode of Sons of Anarchy...Charlie Hunnam anyone? ( : But not all of us are gifted with the talent of falling asleep so easily. So if you sometimes struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, or just wake up feeling groggy these tips may be for you.

Ashley's Green Life Top 10 "Unique" Tips for Better Sleep

1. Sleep on an Earthing mat.  An Earthing mat is a mat which connects to the grounded portion of your outlet and essentially "grounds" you to the Earth...hence the name "earthing."

My Earthing Mat.
The idea behind it is that by "connecting to the earth with our bare skin or feet" we are able to tap into the Earth's unlimited energy, a source of healing." Benefits that have been noted from using Earthing products (like the grounding mat) with consistent use are:
  1. Better sleep
  2. Decrease in pain
  3. More energy
  4. Faster recovery time (more healing)
  5. Reduction or elimination of jet lag
  6. Normalized production of the stress hormone cortisol
The mats are really easy to use,  all I have to do is plug it into my outlet and sleep on it.  You can purchase the mats here, as well as grounded pillow cases, sheets, blankets, and even body bands.

You can see my black mat here on my bed, it's underneath a crazy spiky mat
which I will share more about next.

Now although Earthing probably seems pretty "out there" I saw the biggest improvement in my sleep when I started using this mat. It's been almost 2 years since I got my mat and I haven't slept a night without it. If you want to learn more about it, check out this post: "Earthing: What Is It & How to Do It"

"Earthing: What Is It & How to Do It"

2. Lay on a Spoonk Accupressure Mat before bed. So you probably saw that crazy pink mat above, and as you guessed it, that's my Spoonk mat. In case you're wondering, it's pronounced like the word "spoon" with a "k"...spoonk! The mat is based on principles of Japanese Shiatsu massage and accupressure. The idea is that the 6000 some pokes contained within it, stimulate specific reflex points throughout the body and bring circulation to the area where it's being used. In turn, it relaxes stiff muscles, decreases pain, and releases feel good hormones.

Now I got the mat thinking it would be great to help with tense muscles, but I was surprised to find that it actually improved my sleep. This is backed up in a study done with the Spoonk Mat where 98% of users reported pain relief, 94% reported more relaxation, 94% reported better sleep, and 81% reported an increase in energy level.

The Spoonk can be used anytime, but one suggested time is to lay on it for 20-30 minutes before bed. Now I don't know about you, but if I'm in my bed at night...I am often asleep within a few minutes. There's no way I would last 30 minutes just laying there, relaxing, and then be able to remove it. So what do I do? I lay on my mat before bed and leave it there even when I fall asleep. It usually stays there for 30 minutes to 2 hours or so. Then if I wake up for some reason, I toss the mat on the floor, and go back to sleep.  Also, I have found that mat to be really helpful when I have to get up in the middle of the night to nurse Mila, and then come back and try to fall asleep. Sometimes the act of getting up with her, makes me feel wide awake. But a little time on the Spoonk mat, always seems to help speed up the time it takes me to fall back to sleep. 

Read more about Spoonking here: "How to 'Spoonk' for Better Health."

4.  Use a sound machine.  When Avery was a baby and slept in our bedroom, we got a sound machine to help her sleep, and it ended up helping us sleep too. So much so in fact that once she moved out and into her own room, we only lasted a night or two without it until we went out and bought our own. Without a sound machine, I felt like I heard every sound, both inside and outside my house. "Did the air conditioning just turn on?" "Is that my dog barking?" "Who's car is that?"

My sound machine, a sleep must-have in our house.

Add a sound machine back in the equation and all those sounds get tuned out and all I focus on is a white-noise/waterfall-like sound. I use this Conair Sound Therapy Sound Machine off ($16) and I use the setting called "Waterfall." I like this sound machine because it can run all night long (some have timers and only play the sound for 15-30 minutes), and you can control the volume from quiet to loud.

Similar to the essential oils, once I turn that sound machine on and hear the "Waterfall" sound, I feel my mind and body start to relax...they know it's time to go to sleep.  My girls are the same way, as they both have a sound machine in their rooms too.

5. Use an eye mask.  I started this habit a few years ago when we moved into our current house, because despite getting room-darkening shades, we have a skylight in the area of the room near the bathroom. So no matter how much I cover the light of the windows there's still a bit of light coming from the skylight, either from a full moon, the sun setting, or a bright and early sunrise.

I've tried all kinds of eye masks over the years, from fancy ones to simple cloth napkins folded in thirds, and recently I found this cool silk one on, Fisher's Finery 100% Silk Eye Mask ($15) which I really love.

One of my favorite aspects of using an eye mask is that it forces me to shut my eyes and stop watching the clock. Don't you hate that feeling when you're trying to fall asleep, and you peek at the clock to see you've been laying there for 30 minutes...and you're STILL not asleep. Grr. With this eye mask, all visual stimulation gets tuned out and I'm forced to close my eyes and relax.

6. Turn off and remove all electronic devices from your bedroom and try not to check them right before bed.  I'm kind of a cell phone-phobic person in how I'm cautious about the radiation they emit, and I take active steps to reduce that radiation. The main way I do this is by using a Pong Phone Case for iPhone 5S ($59) which "redirects harmful wireless energy away from the user."  I also turn my phone off every night and charge it downstairs in my kitchen. Obviously since I don't have my cell phone by my head all night I am able to reduce the possible long-term exposure to harmful wireless radiation, but more importantly I guarantee myself a 7-8 hour window when I can be free from cell phone-related thoughts (email, text, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.).

Goodnight phone, you need some rest too.

I'm sure this seems crazy to some people, who use their cell phone as their alarm clock and keep their notifications on all night, but I love the silence, peace, and the "do not disturb" aspect that comes from a turned OFF cell phone that I don't have to look at for 7-8 hours. I can do other things like sleep, spend time with family, and just RELAX!

To piggy back on to this, I try to stop checking my phone an hour or at least 30 minutes before bed. This lets me tune out from everyone's status updates, blog comments, and emails and just relax. Otherwise I find that when I lay down to go to sleep I think about what someone had for dinner, where someone just checked in at, and try to draft out a response to an email. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be thinking of sleepy things.

But wait...what if someone has to get a hold of me and my cell phone is turned off for an unheard of 8 hours at a time?!! What am I going to do? No worries, I've got a landline. (Insert gasp). I know it sounds crazy, and to make it even better, it's a CORDED LANDLINE, not even cordless-LOL. A bit nerdy right? I don't think so. You all know I like to practice what I preach and one of the steps I took when reducing my exposure to cell phone radiation was to get a landline and use that (instead of my cell phone) to call people when I am home. Here is the one I got from ($30).

My landline corded phone, a great back up for when my iPhone is
turned off at night.
In case you're wondering, I got a corded landline because cordless phones and their charging stations actually emit a high amount of radiation, where as corded phones do not.

Now aside from serving as an alternative to using my cell phone, my landline also works great as my emergency back up if someone needed to get ahold of me in the middle of the night or when my phone is off. This makes it easier for me to turn my phone off each night, and not lay there wondering IF something has happened and no one has a way to get a hold of me.

7. Do something relaxing before bed. I write in a journal and do a quick stretch routine. Just as I mentioned how I try not to check my phone/email/Facebook immediately before bed, I also try to do something relaxing before bed. The first one is to write in a journal. Now as you can tell from my blog, I love to write and before I had my girls I would journal all the time. These days, I rarely journal because I feel like I don't have the time to sit and just write pages at a time.  That's when my brother told me about an awesome book called The Five-Minute Journal ($23). It's a very simple journal that has a form for each day with a section for the morning that you fill out right when you wake up, and a section for at night which you fill out right before bed. It's the same questions/prompts for each day. In the morning you write: 3 things you are grateful for, 3 things you can do to make today great, and an affirmation for the day. Before bed you write: 3 amazing things that happened to you that day, and one way you could have made today better.

The Five-Minute Journal 

I've been writing in it for almost 3 months now and I love it. It really helps you keep track of your own personal growth, teaches you to look for the good in all things. I can't recommend it more.

After writing in my journal, I hop on down to the floor to do my daily stretch. This is a series of stretches I came up with years ago and that I continue to do daily right when I get up and before I go to bed. They help me relax and relieve tension before I go to bed.

Learn my entire stretch routine here: "My Daily Stretch"

8. Have clothes that you only wear to bed.  I have actual pajamas, thanks to a suggestion from Arianna's Huffington's book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, which I only wear to bed to help my body know, when I put them on it's time for bed.  When I read the idea I thought it was brilliant. In the past I would always wear tanks/yoga pants/shorts when I was relaxing around the house, then when it was time for bed I would go straight to bed in the comfy clothes I had on, never thinking that actual "PJs" might be more helpful for sleep.  So that's when I went out and bought two sets of tank/short pajamas from Target, they are a very soft material and I try very hard to only wear them to bed. When I put them on, my brain thinks: "Alright, it's time for bed. Let's do this!"

My "designated pajamas."
Now to be completely honest, I actually have one more pair of pajamas I got from Victoria's Secret that are incredibly comfortable and are made from satin. But once they arrived,  I thought they might be a tad bit risqué to post a pic/video of me wearing, but you can check them out here: Satin Cami & Short Set ($52).  Side note: this is actually my favorite pair of pajamas. I recommend if you are looking for clothes to be specifically for PJs, get some satin ones, you won't regret it...unless you are looking for some slightly modest PJs to post on your blog, then you might want to stick to the comfy, Target ones.  ( :

8. Make the room as dark as possible by not only covering windows, but those little lights from appliances. As I shared above, I try to keep my room as dark as possible with curtains, but as I've had children, little appliances/electronics have found their way into my bedroom and they bring with them their blaring, bright lights. Who wants their room illuminated by the white/blue glow of a baby monitor? Not me. Especially after reading articles like this one about how this white/blue glow can be bad for your health.

My solution? Cover the lights! As you can see my go-to is black electrical tape.

Mila's wipe warmer with the light covered.

Mila's baby monitor base in her room has a bright white/yellow light
that I've covered with more black electrical tape.
The other day I was at the store and saw they had white duct tape, I suppose I could cover this unsightly black tape with a little white? Maybe someday, when I've got the time!

Another strategy I use to block the light from larger surfaces, like baby monitors themselves with display screens, is to cover them with objects. So for Avery's monitor, I use a big book. 

Monitor not covered, looks fine during the day, but lights the whole
room up at night.

My solution, use this lovely Sesame Street book to cover the monitor. It
allows me to hear if the monitor goes off, but I don't have to see
all the bright light. 
Obviously I have a lot of kid/baby appliances with little lights that need covering, but the same applies to things like DVD players, cable box, gaming consoles, etc. If it has a light that shines in the room you sleep, try covering it up and see if that helps you sleep better. 

10. Use a wake up light as your alarm clock.  Nothing ruins a night of great sleep like the blaring sound of an alarm clock, so instead I use a Philips Wake-Up Light . The way the alarm clock works is that 30 minutes before it goes "off" for you to wake up, a light starts to gradually get brighter, brighter, brighter until it's time for you to wake up. Then nature sounds (birds chirping) play quietly and gradually grow louder (over a period of 90 seconds)  to wake you up, if the light already didn't.  I know it sounds pretty out there and unnecessary considering it's price ($100), but it is so worth it. Read more about it here: "A Healthier Way to Wake Up."

My Wake-Up Light alarm clock that gradually gets brighter in the morning.

Now I had a few bonus tips that didn't make the list, but I just had to include which are:

Bonus Sleep Tip #1: Eat something OR NOT before bed. A lot of sleep research says not to eat anything a few hours before you go to bed so that your body can be resting and not digesting, and I tried it but it didn't work for me...I was starving! I think there is probably an exception to this rule if you are pregnant or nursing. All that baby growing/milk making can make a mama hungry. Or maybe I just have a fast metabolism. Either way I find it helpful to eat something small, 30 minutes to an hour before I go to bed. Cereal like Erewhon's Strawberry Crisp with Rice Milk, usually does the trick for me. A banana is another pre-bed snack that I like.

My favorite gluten-free, strawberry cereal with rice milk before bed.

I often find that I'm not particularly hungry when it's time for bed, but I know that if I eat something then, it will help hold me over when I have to get up at 2 AM to nurse Mila, instead of returning to bed to lay there and attempt to fall asleep to the sound of my growling stomach. But do what works for you. Maybe you need to eat something, or maybe you need to close the fridge door by 8 PM and don't open it until morning.

Bonus Sleep Tip #2: Splurge on something for your bedroom. I came across the suggestion in one of my sleep books to try to sleeping on silk sheets, it said something like, "Once you sleep on silk, you'll never go back to anything else." Really? I was intrigued. So started with baby steps and got my silk eye mask, like you read about above. was nice and soft.

How about a new silk pillowcase? I splurged again, and got this one from Fisher's Finery 19mm Mulberry Silk Pillowcase ($26). If you're curious I got the Queen size in the color Taupe. Aside from being soft, this pillowcase is hypoallergenic and can help promote skin and hair health (aka decrease bed head, which I must admit it has been helpful with). A pillowcase with beauty-enhancing properties, love it!

Sleeping in my newly-upgraded sheets/pillowcase.
Then came time for the sheet. This was the big daddy purchase, I had my eye on this one from for a while:  19 Momme Seam Silk Flat Sheet ($150). Yes you read that price right, $150! Yikes, but luckily my husband and I's anniversary was coming up and this gave him the perfect gift idea. So he surprised me with it and I must say, I will never sleep on anything else again! As you can see I cover up with it, instead of sleeping on it like a regular sheet, but this is something I've done for years, and it's so comfortable to me.

**Update, since posting this, I've go some slack from fellow vegans who say my use of silk products is unethical. Call me naive, but I guess I just didn't realize what REALLY went into making silk products until I read this article ("Silk: The Ugly Source of a Beautiful Material"). I had never done anything with silk before and I just figured they got the silk AFTER the silk worms were done with their cocoons, but it turns out they most often kill the worm before they leave the cocoon. Say what? Poor little things. So here's what I plan to do. Replace my sheet and pillowcase with these from "The Ethical Silk Company". The company says they do not kill or harm any silk worms in the process of making their silk, and they make sure each moth has left the cocoon before the silk thread is spun. Thanks to my readers for sharing this information with me so that I can now buy a more ethically sound product. Sorry if anyone was offended, now I know.**

Obviously I went a little crazy with these sleep upgrades, but upgrading your sleep environment does not have to be this extreme. Just a new pillow or blanket, may be all you need to ensure a comfortable night's sleep.  Or maybe your bedroom needs a complete makeover to create the zen-oasis you want when it's time for you to turn in for the night. Do what works for you, with the budget you have.

So there you have it, my 10...okay 12 "unique" tips for better sleep. I'm sure some of them you might have heard about before, and others may seem a little crazy, but which ones do you think might help you? Also, what are your favorite sleep tips? Share them below and we can all learn from each other.

And just because I love you, I'll give you a little behind-the-scenes look at what it's like when I film sometimes. I always love it when my favorite bloggers peel back the curtain of what life behind that perfect recipe picture, or DIY craft, so here's mine...

Here's what you see in my YouTube video...
Here's what I see...yikes!
Whoa baby! That room is crazy. I promise I love a clean house, but with two girls now things get a little crazy.  So when I have the small window of time to shoot a video (cue Brandon taking the girls for a walk outside) I clean what will be in the shot of the video...and then I clean the rest later. You can bet it's clean before I go to bed, because looking at that craziness would defiantly keep me up.

Just thought you might like that little behind-the-scenes look at life in this "Green" and sometime "Crazy House." Thanks for being patient with my lack of posting lately. Hopefully I'll have another post up soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Goal To Get More Sleep...

Long time no blog right? Well, anytime I'm gone from blogging for awhile, it usually means I'm researching something (or I'm busy)...and while I have been busy, I have also been researching and this time my research topic is sleep. Not quite the greenest of topics, but it's pretty fundamental to our health. I mean, there's no point in drinking green juice and hoping for some miracles, if you're clocking 3 hours of sleep each night.

Now as the title of this post states, I recently set a goal for myself to get more sleep and I want to recommend that you give a try too. I always find it interesting to hear what people I look up to are "working on" or what goals they have set for themselves.  I think, "Wow, despite all they've done and are good at, they are still trying to get better...well what are they working on?" To me, it makes them feel more real.

So that's what I've got for you today, something "real" that I've been working on. Now I'm no Kris Carr or Oprah, but with all the green tips I'm always sharing, you might come to think that I've got it all figured out or that I've got this healthy life thing down...but the truth is I'm always learning and always striving to be better. And one area that I am working towards doing better in is with my sleep. In peeling back the ominous curtain of "I've got it all together" I hope you can relate to what I'm going through and we can get through it together.

Here's the video version on my goal to get more sleep...

So what spurred me to set my new goal of getting more sleep? I recently read the book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington, and it changed my life...seriously. If you haven't read it yet, drop what you're reading currently and get a copy of that book. I could write tons of posts about all the topics and tips discussed in this book that I've started incorporating into my life, but the one I think that others can identify with the most and the one I've put the most work and effort into doing more of is to GET MORE SLEEP.

In the book Arianna describes how we're often given mixed messages from society. On one hand we're told to give 110% in everything we do, to work more and sleep less, and to always go that extra matter what it takes.  But realistically when we live by that motto and push ourselves too hard, we end up exhausted, lacking creativity and energy, and eventually burning out.

Can you relate to the feeling of always striving to be more successful, no matter what the cost? I know I can. Because like most women, I'm trying to do it all. I work full time as a special education preschool teacher, I have two daughters, one is 3 years old and the other 6 months old, and I have my blog and YouTube channel. There's days where I literally schedule in as much as I possibly can into every minute of every hour, rarely giving myself a chance to breathe. Multitasking was my middle name and in spare second I had I felt I had to fill with something so I could cross it off my never-ending to-do list. A few minutes while dinner is cooking? Better sort the laundry. A few minutes before Avery and Mila wake up? Better try to edit some pictures for a blog post. While driving to work each day, I oil pull and listen to motivational tips on how to increase my success, during my lunch break I prepare lesson plans and brainstorm blog post ideas, before bed I prepare my things for the next day. Can you tell I have a hard time doing nothing?

So to think of going to bed at an earlier time than my average 10:30 PM or so and that was wasted time! Time I could have spent working on a blog post, time I could have spent watching something on DVR, time I could have spent "relaxing" from all my multitasking. The funny thing is, I was never very productive at that time. Sometimes I'd sit down to make the grocery list for the next week only to find that while trying to watch an episode of Parenthood and do the grocery list, I took 45 minutes just to write 10 things on the list. Or when I'd go to write a blog post, I'd stare at a blank screen searching for creativity and words to strike, but they would not come to me. In fact, I began to sort of dread writing a post because I did not feel the creative urge to write. Looking back, my body and my mind were so exhausted that they were unable to do anything but mindlessly watch something on TV (not that there's anything wrong with that from time to time). And as you can tell by the length of this post, my urge to write has returned as well...probably because I'm not relying on it to come to me at 10:15 PM.

My usual blog/work time...9-10:30 PM

That's when I really started to consider this idea of getting more sleep. Also hearing from someone as successful like Arianna, really gave me the "okay" to say YES to an earlier bedtime, and NO to one more thing on my to-do list.

As I said before, I was currently getting about 6 hours or so a night, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. I would usually go to bed around 10:00-10:30 PM, and then wake up at 4:40 AM so I could workout, get myself and my girls all packed and ready for the day. Now back then I thought I was getting a decent amount of sleep. I thought I remember hearing 7-8 is ideal, but that some people need more and some need less. I just figured I was one of those "less" people, and 6 was my number. The thing I didn't think about did 6 hours of sleep make me feel? The answer: tired! I'd usually be fine in the morning, but in the afternoon I would get hit with strong fatigue after lunch, again when I got home from work, and then again during what should have been my bedtime (that I often ignored).

I also had shorter workouts, snacked more, always seemed on the verge of catching a cold, was less patient with those around me, and constantly thought about and plotted how I could get to bed ASAP. So with this in mind I figured, the goal of getting more sleep might not be a bad idea.

It also helped that I was learning some of the negative side effects that come from being chronically sleep deprived, such as being more prone to illness, stress, traffic accidents, and weight gain. And over time chronic sleep deprivation can even lead to heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Here's a great infographic from The Huffington Post, that really brings the ill effects of skipping sleep both for one night, and over time to life...(you may have to click to enlarge it so you can read it more clearly)
In the book Arianna suggests that a way you can easy yourself into getting more sleep is to start by just getting 30 more minutes of sleep than you are currently getting now. So like a little kid braving the swimming pool for the first time, I agreed to try that, to just get my feet wet a little bit. So I moved my time to 10:00 PM. Then feeling courageous, and because I heard her say she personally gets 7-8 hours of sleep at night, I thought "What if I just went to bed at 9:40? That would give me a full 7 seven hours...kind of like her." So I tried it, and I liked it.

No blogging, no working...just sleeping.

It wasn't always easy to stick to. Those last 15-20 minutes before my "curfew" were a bit rushed in the beginning and it really led me to reevaluate some of the time our family has in the evening. Getting me to bed earlier, meant getting the girls to bed earlier, which meant eating dinner earlier, you get the idea. But the feeling I had of waking up and knowing my body got 7 hours of sleep, compared to it's usual 6 or less, was very gratifying. Over time I started to notice as I result of getting more sleep I was getting sick less often, I felt calmer and more patient. I had more energy for my workouts and I made better food choices.  Overall I just felt happier.

Then after a few weeks of that and more sleep research I came to find the consistent and recommended number was 8. That's right, 8 hours of sleep. Whew, I knew it wouldn't be easy, but when you read the benefits that come from getting more sleep and the risks you avoid by getting 8 hours of sleep it starts to look pretty convincing. So being the overachiever that I am, I tried pushing my curfew back even more to 8:40. Seriously folks this felt crazy. It seemed so early. But when I would wake up in the morning, I would feel awesome.

The only problem with this super early bedtime was that it wasn't always possible to get that full 8 hours. Things would come up like Mila waking up multiple times a night, not meeting my 8:40 curfew, or just some restless thought running through my head (like how in the world can I sum up all this sleep info in one post without it reaching novel proportions?). When these things would come up, I'd get upset that I wasn't getting my full 8 hours and that would make me mad. I sound like a toddler, but seriously, I would think, "Come on, I know how important sleep is now, let me get some freaking sleep!"

"Come on guys! It's time for bed!"
So, in giving myself some grace, which I recommend you do as well, I've settled on 7.5 hours which puts me going to bed around 9:10 PM. Still earlier than my old bedtime, but not so early that I have to work so stinking hard to do it. All in all I like to shoot for 8:40 PM as a goal each night but as long as I'm in bed before 9:40, I consider it a job well done. Ever heard the quote, "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars"? Well, 8:40 is my moon and if I make it there, great. If not, falling between there and 9:40 is straight up star-worthy.


Now I've been working on this sleep goal for almost 2 months and along the way I've also had some major Aha moments, here's my favorites:

1. Sleep is the elephant in the room! It's almost comical to me that I spend so much money and time on supplements, vitamins, green juice, exercise, and crazy alternative gadgets like Spoonking, Earthing mats, tongue scraping, dry skin brushing, oil pulling and rebounding...only to pay no attention to one critical area: sleep! When things ever got busy in my life the first thing I gladly dropped down on the priority list was sleep. But until now I never saw that this was such an injustice to me and my health, I saw it as one more thing on my to-do list that could be moved around, and shortened if needed. Now I know better and I know that I can actually improve my health by sleeping more (shocker, I know).

All the supplements in the world can't take the
place of sleep.

2. What's the point of being successful if you are too exhausted to enjoy it? In my sleep deprived days I would hit "Publish" on a blog post only to be filled with a sense of "Whew...I'm glad that's over!" Seriously? I started this blog as a passion project, something I could do to get the word out about my crazy, green way of life that would inspire others to be green too..this is supposed to be fun for me, but it wasn't. And this is because I was attempting to do it on an empty well with no sleep, no creativity, and no real drive but to write it, post it and be done with it. But what's the point in that? On top of that what kind of mother was I being for my children? What type of teacher in the classroom? When sleep deprived all these things that make up me were operating at 60-70% of their full potential. Kind of like a "watered down Ashley." Sort of like the real thing, but not quite.

When I get more sleep, my tank is full. I operate at 95-100% and I have the energy, the patience, the love to be my true self. Not the me bogged down by exhaustion, cravings for chips, and a crazy tense neck and shoulders.

3. It doesn't make you lazy for going to sleep early, it makes you smarter...literally. Not doing one more task after I put my girls to sleep each night was hard for me.  But instead of trying to work when I was exhausted, I rearranged my work time to other times when I was more awake, alert, and creative. So instead of approaching a post, recipe, or even just an activity with my kids from a frazzled, tired, cranky point...I instead came to the table with a fresh mind, an energetic body, and much more patience.

Here's a visual I made to help remind me that it's okay for me to go to sleep, maybe you can relate.

Now if you are parent, I know what you might be thinking... That's all good and nice to get more sleep, but look, I have kids that keep me up all night, how am I supposed to get 8 hours with that?!!!"

Okay, I'm with you. I'm not saying this "goal to get more sleep" is a walk in the park, it's not. Kids an a lovely surprise element to the sleep game in how they can and probably will disrupt it in someway. For me, my 3 year old is pretty good and sleeping through the night, but Mila, my seven-month-old, is my wildcard. sleep wildcard.

She varies in the amount of sleep she gets every night. Some nights I'll be up nursing her just once, other times I'll be up two or three times, and she then she'll refuse to go back to sleep. Grrr. As a parent it is really hard to know all the benefits that come from getting more sleep, but when your children keep you from getting it, things get rough, and if you're like me, you feel helpless and as though you have to commit to just having "crappy sleep" for the next 18 or so years.  But there are some things you can do.

Here's my tips for getting more sleep, even if you have kids and especially if you have babies:

1. Set the odds in your favor. We may not be able to control if and when our kids wake us up at night, but we can control when we go to bed and when we wake up. Although it doesn't happen every night I try to set my sleeping time/amount so that even if I have to get up three times to get Mila, I'll still end up getting a decent amount of sleep. Now if I don't end up using it, that's a bonus=more sleep for me!  For example, Mila and Avery are usually both asleep by 8:30 PM, and from then I can choose if I want to go to bed at 9:00 or 10:30, or somewhere in between.

2. Take naps if you can. I'll share more about this in an upcoming post, but this has been my saving grace to recover from the long nights where I didn't get as much sleep (due to my kiddos) than I would have liked to get. A 20 minute nap mid-day, or when my kids take a nap (if some how the stars align and they sleep at the same time), always helps me feel more rested.

Taking my daily nap. 

3. Get some help from your partner. Sharing childcare duty at night can be helpful for parents (if possible) because it takes all the burden, and sleep deprivation off one person and instead becomes a shared duty. I know once I've nursed Mila and she still just refuses to go back to sleep, I come back into our bedroom and let my hubby know it's time for him to go work his magic (he has some mad sleep-rocking skills). You could also utilize your partner to allow you to take a nap, even if this means you have to wait until they get home from work, 20 minutes of rest may be just what you need to get through the rest of the day/evening without collapsing from exhaustion first.
I just celebrated my 7 year anniversary with this guy, and I
never knew how much I needed/loved him,
until we had kids.  I couldn't do it without him.

So there you have it, my goal to get more sleep. Sorry if I bored you with all the details of my sleep schedule and challenges, but I hope some of you can relate to it. I know that reading the book Thrive and rediscovering the way I prioritize sleep was a big light bulb moment for me, and it gave me the proof, evidence, and social "okay" to really be okay with getting more of it.

So please share below, what is your sleep like?
How much do you get?
Do you wish you got more?
How much more?
What steps could you take to get more sleep?
If you have started sleeping more, what benefits do you notice?

Now I know for some of you that sleep doesn't come easy. I've felt this from time to time, so stay tuned for my next post where I share my "Top 10 Unique Tips for Better Sleep" because as crazy "green" as my life is, you know I've got some rockin' tips to share that you might not have heard about before.

Learn all about my crazy sleep set up in my next post about my "Top 10
Unique Tips for Better Sleep."

Soon to come as well is another post about sleep and that's about "How & Why I Take a Nap Daily" another new habit I started to support my goal of getting more sleep.

Napping it up...and why you should coming soon!

But until then...go to sleep....for right now...close your laptop...or turn off that phone, and say goodnight. (Unless you are at work, then go about your day.)

Sweet dreams greenies.
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