We loved Gail when we met her at Joan Lunden's Camp Reveille this past summer. As a wellness coach and creator of Fitness for Life, we hope she becomes a regular contributor to Bedtime Network. Here, she offers tried and true advice for helping you achieve your sleep goals in 2014. It's already February. If you're not any closer, you'll definitely want to hear what she has to say.
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So you’ve figured out all the simple and not so simple steps you need to take to improve your sleep. Now what? How can you make them stick for the long haul? It’s easier than you think. First, think about your most rested self – what do you look like, and what new behaviors are going to get you there? Then think baby steps. Oh, and always remember a reward for all your hard work! Keep in mind, that taking responsibility for better sleep starts with you.
After putting some well-deserved, healthy sleep habits into place, describe what a rested you looks like maybe, a year from now. Start in your mind, or better yet on paper - but we want details! How do you feel? Where are you specifically (inside, outside – what’s the background)? What are you wearing (my best relaxed happy colors), or even – what’s the expression on your face? Pure rested bliss? Now for some more important details:
What’s really motivating you and why does this matter – right now?
What strengths and special talents will you draw upon to make this vision a reality?
What challenges will you overcome to experience the benefits of good sleep consistently?
Who will support you in becoming a more rested, healthier person?
You may not think of support as being a key part of this equation. Honestly though– we are not an island right? Think of some of your important accomplishments and acknowledge who helped you get there. Well, getting good sleep IS vital for health so be prepared to put it right on that list of accomplishments soon, with supports! Before moving on to those baby steps, rate just how important better sleep is to you on a scale of 1-10. Is it at least a seven? If so, you’re ready to put some specific steps in place.
Of the behaviors you realized you might need in order to get great sleep, what’s the easiest? Choose the one you might have had some success with before; the one you strongly believe you can make happen consistently. Next, create a weekly SMART goal (Specific, Measureable, Action-Oriented, Realistic and Time-bound). Here’s an example to get you started, to help you stay off those darned backlit screens (smartphones and other devices with a backlight that interfere withyour melatonin production.) Repeat after me:
“I will disconnect from all electronics that mess with my melatonin production like my computer, TV, IPAD, smart phone, book reader etc., for 4 days – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, after 9:00 pm until my alarm goes off the next morning.”
Why wait until the next morning? So many people power up their electronics when they can’t sleep and it just exacerbates the situation! Sounds easy to fix the problem? Maybe and maybe not. Check in on how confident you are with your goal to make sure it feels do-able.
Back to our scale of 1-10; rate your confidence. Somewhere between seven and ten is what you’re shooting for. Scoring lower? Adjust your goals until you feel more confident (try 3 days sans electronics after 9 pm). At the end of your week, be sure to assess your success. Always start with what you accomplished, versus what didn’t happen. It’s that old, “glass half full,” mantra that builds a positive spiral, something we all could use more often.
Lastly, learn from your challenges and strengthen your plan for obstacles that attempt to rob you of a good night’s sleep. Build in a reward for results – but hey, isn’t better sleep a reward in and of itself? For many, including me, it definitely is. However, there are those who need that additional carrot. So, figure out what else motivates you to reach your goal. Remember: getting better sleep starts with you. You can get there by starting with your vision – and the best way to see the future is to create it.
Gail has provided health and wellness education to employees and private individuals since 1993 in the corporate, community and spa settings. She received her Master’s Degree in Health Communication from Emerson College and Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. Gail is a Certified Health & Wellness Coach , National Wellness Institute Certified Wellness Practitioner (CWP), ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Physical Mind Institute Pilates Mat Instructor, American Lung Association & American Cancer Society Smoking Cessation Facilitator, WELCOA Faculty Member, and Zone Perfect Nutrition Certified Instructor. She provides professional development workshops for caregivers in the healthcare and childcare industries. Gail is co-chair of the Holy Family Hospital Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC) and Chairperson for the Greater Derry-Londonderry Chamber of Commerce Health & Wellness Committee. She specializes in helping small to medium sized business have healthier, happier, more productive employees and workplaces. She is passionate about motivating people to live healthier lives and coaching individuals with practical, personal wellness plans outlining a path for sustainable lifestyle change. For more on all of Gail’s wellness services please visit www.fitnessforlifecoaching.com.