Saturday, February 3, 2018
Let's Talk About Sleep
I was recently out with my husband and some friends to hear a local musician we all love. Around 9:30 I started to feel super tired. I'd worked all day but wanted to participate and not be a kill joy. I'll be honest, in the winter when it's dark when you leave to go out I really struggle with anything that goes on past about ten o'clock.
Read about creating a bedtime routine here.
None of this was lost on my group who have known me a long time and there were more than a few jokes and comments. I get it. The night owls do not understand me any more than I understand why they aren't up at 5 AM getting their day together.
Two words: Circadian Rhythm.
While lots of people are careful about the food they eat or what they eat or what medication they take and getting to the gym, far fewer people realize the importance of sleep. As a matter of fact, in our culture, it's practically a badge of honor to brag about how little sleep you can get by on. A lot of people will tell you that they feel fine, but it's because they've become used to a low level exhaustion that they don't even recognize anymore.
Arianna Huffington wrote a whole book about it called, The Sleep Revolution.
In the spirit of full disclosure early to bed and early to rise comes naturally to me. It always has. I'm all Ben Franklin that way. In high school I had one of those digital alarm clocks where the numbers physically flipped over like in Groundhog Day. Every night I set it for 6:00 AM. It never went off. Not once. Every morning I would wake up, and look at the clock to see 5:59. So I'll admit to being a little weird about the whole sleep thing.
Man, have I seen a lot of beautiful sunrises though.
I've written about this before but since a lot of people are still working on their New Year's projects and resolutions I propose that you might want to consider your sleep habits.
Here are my rules for getting the best night's sleep:
1. I have a bedtime. Yep. Just like a 10 year old. I stick to it religiously if I'm at home. 10:30 is the cutoff. If I'm watching something interesting that goes beyond that I just set the DVR. The real goal during cold and flu season is 10:00 and if I can be in bed with a book at 9:30 it's a bonus.
2. No screen time in bed. Not even the Kindle. Light from all our devices signals to our brains we should stay awake. Bedtime means reading a physical book and that the TV, phone, and laptop are banished to the den, dining room, and studio.
3. In the winter I start getting ready for bed right after dinner if I'm at home. This means I brush my teeth. The added bonus here is that it signifies the end of eating and prevents nighttime snacking. The main reason I do it though, is that getting ready for bed can feel like a chore that I put off if I'm really tired so I try to take care of some things throughout the evening.
4. No news before bed. Just no.
5. I use a diffuser with lavender next to the bed and a noise machine. When traveling I have a white noise app on my phone. Drowning out random noise is very helpful.
6. This should have been number one. I don't wait until I feel tired and/or sleepy to go to bed. The bedtime is the same regardless of how I feel. This is the main mistake most adults make, they don't see the need to go to bed until they feel like it. An overactive overstimulated mind at the computer or watching TV is a terrible barometer of how much sleep the body needs.
7. I think of my bedtime routine as pampering and self care.
8. I don't keep any business-y type things in the bedroom. That's what the office and a desk are for. Anything that looks like it might promote over-thinking or worry are banished. Do all work someplace else.
9. Unless I'm sick the bed is only for a couple of things and one of them is sleep.
10. If I wake up and can't go back to sleep within 20 minutes I get up, get some water, maybe read a bit, then go back to bed.
If you are feeling sick, run down, and exhausted changing your sleep routine is a good place to begin getting yourself to a healthier state.