Snoozefest 101- Seriously, if it were an Olympic event I would be on the team.
But recently (and briefly-Thank God) I had a few rough nights. Trouble getting to sleep, wide awake in the middle of the night, turning in bed like a rotisserie chicken trying to get back to sleep. Not fun! I cherish my sleep y'all. So I did some investigating. The following info is what I learned along the way, hope it helps you too!
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What is sleep? According to Merriam-Webster: the natural, easily reversible periodic state of many living things that is marked by the absence of wakefulness and by the loss of consciousness of one's surroundings, is accompanied by a typical body posture (such as lying down with the eyes closed), the occurrence of dreaming, and changes in brain activity and physiological functioning, is made up of cycles of non-REM sleep and REM sleep, and is usually considered essential to the restoration and recovery of vital bodily and mental functions
Ahhh, I like that first part. Look at that word "Natural", sleep is natural or at least it is supposed to be. But what if it is not coming naturally to you? What if you're having trouble getting to sleep or staying that way through the night? If you are not getting the quantity and quality sleep that your body & brain needs it will effect your health, your mood and your mental performance.
How much is enough?
I checked several sources such as the CDC, the National Sleep Foundation, WebMD, etc. and they all agree-between 7 & 9 hours a night for a healthy adult, people over 65 can get away with a little less.
Do naps count?
If you are not getting a good 7 hours of sleep each night you may wonder if you can make up for a bad night's sleep with a nap. I've searched many reliable sources and the answer is.........drumroll........it depends. Nothing wrong with taking a nap, it does count toward your overall goal of quantity. But it could sabotage the quality of your nighttime sleep.
Have you ever taken a nap only to wake up feeling groggy and more lethargic than before? It's probably because you woke in the middle of a deep sleep cycle. Yep, sleep rolls in cycles. If you'd like to know more about that click here. Seriously, interesting stuff.
Short naps are best, keep it to 20 minutes max. End that siesta before the deep sleep cycle kicks in-which typically begins around 25-30 minutes. If you really need to catch up on some shut-eye make sure you nap long enough to complete a full sleep cycle, 90-120 minutes. Lucky you if you have time for that! Also, rest as early in the afternoon as possible. Napping too close to your bedtime can reek havoc on your nighttime Z's.
That's right, TRAIN. Train as if it's an Olympic event, make it a priority and set yourself up for success. Here's how:
Routine-We are naturally creatures of habit, so use that to your advantage. When it gets near your bedtime have a routine that signals your body and brain that sleep is on it's way. Turn off the electronics: phone, computer, tv, etc. maybe set up an automatic timer to do it for you, and keep you on track. Get into your comfy pj's, dim or turn off the lights throughout your home, engage in a soothing activity like a warm bath, light reading (the real paper and ink kind, not a device), gentle stretching or yoga.
Set a Schedule-Go to bed and get up at the same time every day-even on your days off. It may take some time, but eventually your body & brain will become conditioned to recognize these hours as shut-down time. Every morning my Salt Lamp comes on, creating a warm gentle light to help wake me up, after that my alarm sounds, a low vibe with gentle, uplifting music. This works so well for me, it makes getting up a gentle and natural- feeling event instead of a jarring, screaming call to duty. I encourage you to try it. We should enjoy waking up to a brand new day!
Control your Environment- create an inviting space.
Most importantly get the electronics OUT of your bedroom, yes even the TV. You should be the only entertainment in your bedroom. Am I right? Remove the cell phone charging station and even the alarm clock. A trace amount of light from these devices can disturb your sleep. If you rely on your phone or an alarm clock put them in the next room or a table in the hallway. The bonus here is you will have to get UP and out of the bed to turn off your alarm-reinforcing your set schedule! At the very least cover them up with a towel to block the light and put them far enough away from your bed that you won't be tempted to just snooze.
Set the thermostat in your home to automatically lower during the night, somewhere between 60-67 degrees F. Research proves that your body goes through natural temperature changes during your sleep cycle. If you are bundled up for the Klondike you may be interfering with your natural temperature cycle. Learn more cool stuff about that right here.
Make it dark. Install curtains or shades that are room-darkening, this is especially important if you live in a neighborhood or urban areas where streetlights, and security lighting are on all night long. If you're out in the country with no artificial light, you may be able to skip this step. Of course, you can always wear a sleep mask.
Invest in a quality mattress and luxurious bedding! Go for it-make your sleeping space a comfy oasis. When you climb into bed you want every fiber of your being to say Ahhhh!
Use aromatherapy to lull you into la-la land. Try a diffuser with essential oils; lavender and jasmine are scents that encourage relaxation. Look for one without a light, or with a no light option or run it before you actually go to bed and the room will already be filled with a pleasant, sleep inducing aroma.
Consider the sounds around you. Do you need complete quiet? Get some earplugs! Mask unwanted noise with a sound machine to emit white noise, nature sounds or soothing music. If you really want to up the sound game try Binaural Beats. Learn more about what they are and how to use them here! I use Binaural beats for a variety of situations: sleep, meditation, focus, studying. If you decide to try this remember it only works through headphones. You can listen to it without and it still sounds lovely-but you will not experience the brainwave states.
As I promised, keeping this blog to a 5 minute or less read! Here are a few final thoughts-
Sleep Sabotagers! Avoid these things a few hours before bedtime.
Caffeine & nicotine-this is a no-brainer, they are stimulants.
Alcohol- It may help you get to sleep but in a few hours your body starts to process the alcohol and you will get a "sugar rush" resulting in restlessness or worse-wide awake! Sometime between the hours of 1am and 3am your liver does most of it's work-processing and repairing; we all know alcohol gives the liver an overload of work to do=poor sleep.
Intense exercise-To be clear, exercising regularly will definitely improve your sleep quality! Certainly establish a good work-out program, BUT avoid an intense workout near bedtime; your body will release lots of "feel good" hormones stimulating not just your heart and muscles but also your brain. Not a good idea if you're trying to settle in for a good night's sleep.
Stressful situations-save that work email or calling your mother-in-law for the morning!
Large meals, spicy foods and junk food in general will keep your digestive system too active for quality sleep.
Sometimes sleep issues are a sign of larger, underlying problems with mental or physical health. If you've tried on your own to no avail please talk to your doctor or other health professional.