Sleep has been a reoccurring theme around here. I’ve written about it, talked about it, craved it and just plain missed out on it for far too long. For you people who are able to put your head down and konk out, you have my complete admiration.
To sleep well, and enough, and to wake up refreshed and able to function throughout the day is a gift. Recently, I had a birthday (eh!) and for the entire week of my birthday I decided to give myself the gift of sleep.
And how appropriate that I am sharing the importance of what should be a simple thing, since it is Sleep Awareness Week. Yes, that is a thing and definitely something we should be aware of. Thank you National Sleep Foundation for helping us all see the absolute necessity of this one thing so many of us are missing.
During the week of my birthday I treated sleep like it was my other job. While, in fact, it is so often our jobs that keep us from sleeping, right?
But, seriously, I have never been a good sleeper. In high school my dad and I would pass each other in the night up and down as we were both terrible at sleeping through the night. I haven’t slept through the night in a few years, and over the past year have really missed out on restful sleep. I have been feeling a lot of the side effects, and let’s not even go into what it does to one’s looks. . . .
During the Birthday Week of Sleep I pulled out all the tricks. Instead of telling you what I did, I’ll begin with telling you what I DIDN’T do to help my sleep.
- I did not set my alarm for extra early workouts.
- I did NOT scroll Instagram, Facebook or any social media before bed.
- I did NOT get sucked into mindless TV after crawling in bed.
- I did NOT allow my dogs to get in the way of sleep. If one began to fidget, out of the room he or she went.
- I did NOT stay standing upright past 10 pm (and a couple of nights it was even 9 pm)
- I did NOT drink any caffeine, hot tea or wine in the afternoon or evenings (except on the night of my actual bday!)
- I did NOT stress about NOT getting to sleep when I was not asleep.
I recently listened to a podcast where Arianna Huffington talked about her health crisis. She basically hit a very serious wall – physically, mentally, emotionally, became extremely sick and after many medical tests found lack of sleep to be the cause. That one seemingly so simple thing.
She changed her entire lifestyle and made it her mission to educate on sleep.
She has an excellent manifesto that I’ve taken from her book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time.
Full disclosure on how desperate I have been, here are some of the things I DID do during my Birthday Week of Sleep and that I have been adding to my routine.
- Warm baths on ocassion.
- Using a nice warm washcloth when I do my nightly clean the face routine.
- A sound machine. This is so awesome I even took it on a recent trip to the beach for Spring Break! Loving THIS one from Dohm.
- Take a magnesium supplement in the evenings
- Listen to meditation apps on my phone,. (Breathe, Calm or Headspace are some good ones to try)
- Take all the crazy thoughts, worries, scenarios and “to dos” that are swirling around in my brain and scribble them down on a pad by my bed. This has been huge to get them out of my brain and onto paper. Sounds odd I’m sure, but it has been a big help for me.
- Calling it quits when it is time to quit. Putting REST high on the list. It might not be real sleep, but just as important for energy, mental health, physical recovery and simply helping us be healthier, happier folks.
I’m sure you have read, heard and learned how important sleep is for our overall health and wellness. It affects everything from our hunger hormones, making us eat more when we are sleep deprived, to our cortisol levels, ability to fight off illness and bugs by affecting our immune systems, obviously makes us groggy, in a constant state of brain fog, which affects our decision making, processing, moods, driving, interactions and relationships, and very importantly, our longevity. Those folks who say “I can sleep when I am dead” may actually be doing that sooner rather than later. Seriously.
This country gets so many things wrong in the health and wellness department – and not getting enough sleep – is a huge one. Granted there may be some folks who can operate on four to five hours of sleep a night, but I have to think this is unnatural and has to show up somewhere else at some point. Our bodies were not created to be in constant motion, constant overdrive, constant stress, constant production mode like machines. If even our Creator felt it necessary to rest, then who do we think we are?
Getting good quality sleep is really the secret to longevity. I’ve also found it also the secret to all of those beautiful, healthy glowing looking people you see around.
I would love to hear how sleep, or lack of sleep, affects you. I would love even more to know what tricks you may have up your sleeve that could help me or anyone else out there one a mission to get some good sleep.
Caught in the Act
I recently got caught in the best possible sleep scenario. My absolute dream of the perfect sleep. Too bad this isn’t real life!