Ok so I have an infant, hence, lately I am reminded about how precious good sleep is. This little babe is teaching me a ton more about life-hacks for better sleep than I could have possibly imagined.
Tons of people want more or better (or both) sleep. In the treatment room, one of the things Joy and I hear all the time is symptoms of poor sleep, fatigue and a gazillion other things that happen as a result of poor sleep and sheer exhaustion.
I figure, now that I am learning some new tricks, I should share them. Especially because at this time of year (spring) the energy is A-BUZZ and it can be even harder to settle in for some folks.
What I am about to tell you are good ideas for sleeping better year round. However, I want to also be realistic…I do not expect you to practice excellent sleep hygiene every.single.night. Why? Because you are human… there will be happy hours, date nights, break-ups, Netflix binge-watching, vacation, work events… oh goodness, you know something can always get in the way. What I want for you is to think about these things MOST nights. Balance folks, balance.
I mean, let’s be real. Last night I got all psyched about some work actions I’ve been wanting to take for a good week and I stayed up super late plugging away… tonight though I will be turning in early.
Ok, let’s get down to it:
#1. Seriously NO SCREENS: As I stare at my screen writing this to you…#hypocrite. This means dimming your phone (upcoming iOS 9.3 will let you lower the blue light), using your “do not disturb” function, turning off the TV/tablet you use to binge watch whatever it is you are into and yes, even waiting to check Facebook until daylight returns. WHY? Because blue light will WAKE YOU THE FUCK UP. I am serious. (Or, if you’re feeling stubborn… use this app to remove the blue light as the evening goes on.) If you are all calm, and chillin’ and sleepy, and you look at some bright-ass screen you will be all kinds of alert again. I realize this is madly inconvenient because that means you actually have to stop working at a normal hour (that would be after dinner, say before 7 p.m. even, and OMG you might have to read a book or a magazine – a real one – not on an app…but hey, it’s worth it. It’s so luxurious and soothing. You’ll be way readier to snooze when you cozy up on your mattress. And I promise your work will still be there for you the next day, ready and waiting. Luckily you will be better rested so you will probably do your work more efficiently anyway.
#2. Eat dinner at an earlier time and let your belly rest: This can be a tough one, especially if you do not get home from work ’til 6/7 p.m. so bear with me on this and take an open-minded approach. If you cannot eat your dinner around 5:30/6 p.m. then at least be done eating at dinner (cut the later-night snacking) and use this ratio to manage your belly intake: 1/3 food, 1/3 water, 1/3 air. Instead of filling up big time, leave yourself some room. We want to be complete or very close to complete with digesting our food BEFORE laying down for bed. WHY? Because a full belly at bedtime means NO REST for the digestive system. And if your other organs are to do their best work, the digestive tract needs a serious rest at night time. If you go to bed full bellied there are some potential break-downs which might be familiar to you: reflux, burping, waking in the middle of the night still tasting your dinner, trouble pooping the next day (mhmmm, yep), weight issues, bloating, and here’s one that might really resonate – since you are full from food all of the thoughts that your body/mind needs time to digest before sleeping in order to shake off the day do not get processed and you could find yourself thinking/spinning/worrying/planning before bed and even in your sleep. No wonder you are zonked!
#3. Operate by candlelight: Folks had it figured out before electricity, man. Two nights ago we went by candlelight only for about 2-hours before bed. It was awesome!! Romantic? Yes. Calming? Yes. Enough light to see? YES!! I am telling you, it was so cozy and lovely. I was shocked. Other options for this kind of lighting are dimmers on lamps, salt-lamps (great solution) and anything with more of an orange/yellow glow versus white/blue. It’s so much easier on the eyes, WHY? Because, see #1. Do this for an hour or two before bed, or better yet when the sun is setting and falling asleep will become easier and easier. Plus this is a great way to use up all those tea lights you bought at IKEA a few years ago and keep meaning to use.
#4. Pretend you have a baby (if you don’t) or remember that you have a baby (even if it’s now a teenager): There is something about a super quiet house when babies are sleeping that helps quiet everything – the mind, the adrenals, the usually loud talking…even the appliances or doing the dishes seems quieter. People with babies often know that baby tends to sleep better if the whole house calms down during naps or at night. The dishes and laundry can wait (I realize that might mean granny panties and dirty work socks sometimes) but doing the housework will be less of a burden after a good night of sleep. In our house now you can hear a pin drop while bebe is asleep and because of that I feel more quieted in my entire system. It’s quite a relief. And, I end up doing more “blech” projects in the early morning because a) I went to sleep earlier; and b) I am up because she is; and c) I rested at night before bedtime too so I actually do have more energy.
#5. Take a bath: Or do something indulgent and calming. Instead of computer/phone stuff I have been coloring at night. It’s so wonderful – my mind slowly dials down, my adrenals calm… OK the bottom line here is pamper and simplify. Reward yourself for making it another day here on the planet with whatever goods/bads/uglies you are dealing with and do something simple that you enjoy. Baths are particularly calming it turns out. So is a great cup of tea or even a nice glass of your favorite wine. Whatever does it for you.
#6. Finally, LET YOURSELF BE TIRED: No, really. No one is actually giving out awards for the best coffee buzz, chronic fatigue syndrome, or adrenal shutdown. We’re giving out prescription drugs for this instead, people!! Part of the problem with so many of us is that we don’t even realize how tired we are, or alternately, we notice it and opt to push through anyway. I don’t know why… like I said, there is no award that I know of for it. How do you let yourself BE tired? Well, the first step is admitting it and not trying to fix it. Here’s some ideas for how: a) if you NEED coffee to operate, then stop drinking it, you drug addict! You will see very quickly how well rested you really are, or aren’t; b) sit down and do nothing for a few minutes (like NO-THING), no Twitter, no tea, no reading…just sit there. Likely you will either want to jump out of your knickers (adrenaline fiend) or you will get very sleepy; c) notice if you experience a fear of stopping… like if you stop you may never start anything EVER AGAIN!! If you have this it’s time to select a day for no plans and no projects – just see where the breeze takes ya. In school I remember my teacher (Shout out to Bob Duggan!) talking to us about what life would look like if we actually went to bed when we were first tired. He’d ask, “when do you get tired? Do you go to sleep then? Why not?” I have to be honest, I am often ready for bed at 7 p.m.-ish during the late winter/early spring. It’s around that time that I realize I could go to sleep and yet it seems to early. If I don’t go to bed, I start my second-wind. For a long time I didn’t even know I was in a second-wind or even third-wind because I actually thought that the first time I was tired was at 11 p.m. or midnight. Then I started paying attention and I was shocked to learn how much I had been pushing through.
I wish you sweet dreams and less caffeine.