By Dr. Johnny Pierce
“Good day” is typically how I greet someone, regardless of the time of the day. My intention in the greeting is to wish goodness throughout the day rather than a specific timeframe. What makes a day good? That’s difficult to determine, but I imagine a good day features some combination of productivity, rest, nourishment, and relaxation. I propose that it is difficult to have a good day without a good night.
I believe sleep is the foundation and marker of a good night. Lack of sleep has adverse effects for the body and brain. Without sleep, our moods faulter, our limbs ache, and a good day is far from reach. Our culture has opted to mitigate these realities with coffee, energy drinks, and pain relievers. Unfortunately, these Band-Aids have their own drawbacks, in many cases exacerbating the initial issue of missing sleep.
What makes a good night? You have probably heard 6-8 hours of sleep is sufficient. It runs a little deeper than that. Sleeping 6-8 hours does not ensure that you feel rested. If you find yourself still feeling tired when you wake up, your sleep quality was poor. Sleep studies and special tracking devices have drawn greater attention to sleep quality. Your sleep quality is tied to your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is determined by how well your sleeping environment facilitates rest. Reading, eating, viewing entertainment (via television, computer, tablet, or smartphone), and socializing (texting, talking on the phone, etc.) in bed all produce poor sleep hygiene. Having a cluttered space can also negatively impact sleep hygiene due to triggering anxiety around tidying up.
Creating a good night will set the stage for a good day. Some easy to implement changes you can make this evening include:
- Winding down: wrap up stimulation (entertainment, socializing, etc.) a half hour to an hour before you would like to go to sleep. Doing so signals your mind and body that the day is ending, and rest is near. During that time, clear your sleeping space of any clutter, select what you will wear for the next day and plan breakfast (reducing anxiety about the morning).
- Clearing your mind: using a pen and pad, attempt to free yourself of heavy thoughts. This could mean journaling or simply making bullet points of things to address tomorrow. Doing so on paper keeps you away from stimulating screens like your computer, tablet, or phone. It also allows you to assert some control over the items. Once they are on paper, they are not so big.
- Release the day: you have reached the end of another day. Experiment with taking a shower before bed or putting your phone on Airplane mode. The shower could symbolize washing the day away. Airplane mode will prevent any last second calls/texts that might keep you up. Meditation/mindfulness practices are additional methods of letting the day go.
Another phrase I use often is “Sleep well when you go.” I hope these tips help you have a good night and a good day. Be well.