First off, GREAT NEWS! I AM going to SoFabCon! YEEEHAWW!!!!!
Sooooo, I’ve been working on my “Feelin’ SoFabulous” plan for about a month now and well, to be honest, it hasn’t really gone as planned. Work really picked up during that period as did the pain in my back/hip. Those two things grabbed all of my attention and my best intentions kind of went out the window. BUT I am not going to let this get me down. I am simply going to refocus and try harder to make these changes. I know that all in all, I’ll be better for it. To that end, I’ve decided to narrow my focus temporarily to working towards getting a better night’s sleep. I feel like if I can make a success of that, the rest will fall into place quite easily.
Tips for better sleep:
1) Create a special sleep routine for yourself. We do it for kids – bath, bedtime story, lullabies – why not for yourself? What do you find relaxing and soothing? I’ll share my new bedtime routine with you tomorrow.
Unplug at least 1 hour before bedtime – 2 hours is even better. Research has shown that the light from various devices tricks our bodies and minds into thinking it’s daytime. This in turn suppresses our body’s production melatonin by as much as 22%. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate our sleep cycles. The other benefit of unplugging for me is that it will stop me from working and encourage me to engage in some downtime. Going to sleep with work fresh on my mind keeps my thoughts racing. Note: If reading at bedtime is something you do to unwind, you might want to go “old school” and read a paper book instead of an ebook because of the light being emitted.
2) Redecorate your bedroom. I don’t mean that you need to buy new furniture or re-paint necessarily (although it’s helpful to consider whether a lumpy uncomfortable mattress or overly bright colours might be interfering with a good night’s sleep…did I ever tell you about my childhood bedroom? Hot pink walls with fluorescent pink, orange, and purple comforter and curtains – the room literally glowed in the dark! Not conducive to a good night’s sleep.) Consider whether the presence of a TV and computer in your room could be getting in the way of a restful night. Is your room cluttered? I know that for me that makes me anxious in general and a bedroom is no place for anxiety!
The bedroom should be a soothing sanctuary. Some people find that they can sleep well in a hotel room but not their own bedroom. It’s worth considering if there’s something distracting in your own room keeping you from sleeping well. Or perhaps you’re now associating your room with a lack of sleep and a change would help. You might even try moving the furniture around to find the best spot for your bed and be sure that your curtains block out enough light.
Consider turning down the thermostat or opening the window a crack. It’s been found that a temperature of 65 degrees F is optimal for the best sleep. I have one of those programmable thermostats and set it so that it lowers the temperature gradually in the hours leading up to bedtime.
3) If you’ve been trying to get to sleep for 20 minutes and are still awake, it is usually a good idea to get out of bed and move to another room. Staying in bed often just makes things worse. You start worrying about not being able to sleep and then other concerns creep in as well. Find something relaxing to do for a while and then try again. Some deep breathing exercises and meditation might be helpful. Don’t turn on any bright lights or use any of your electronic devices though or you may exacerbate the problem.
4) It can be helpful to keep a journal to find your own particular sleep patterns. Try to keep track of when you go to bed, when you fall asleep, when you wake up. Note anything that stands out to you – did you notice it feeling too hot, there being a draft, were you bothered by the light, have too many thoughts bouncing around your head? Try to find your “sleep zone” and if possible, adjust your sleep schedule to accommodate it. Figure out what distractions you need to eliminate and make the appropriate changes.
5) Using a sleeping aid can have limited results. Your doctor may suggest one if you’re suffering from something temporary (pain from a recent injury, a current stressful situation, and so on), but using them long term often means they will lose their effectiveness over time and can sometimes have side effects. Cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to have some positive results for chronic insomnia as can natural supplements such as melatonin. Check with your doctor about these.
6) Cortisol builds as you sleep and is released during the day to give you energy. It’s important to go to bed and wake up each day at the same time in order to regulate it properly.
7) Who doesn’t love an afternoon nap? Once in a while they can be great but on a regular basis, they can really start to interfere with sleep patterns and keep you awake at night. Going for a walk or doing something else to get some fresh air can perk you up in the afternoon and make you tired at night so you can get a good night’s sleep.
8) Soothing scents like lavender can invite sleep. When my daughter was younger and having some sleep issues, we used a lavender scented teddy bear to help soothe her to sleep. Now I’ve been using the new Febreze Sleep Serenity sprays with promising results.
9) Avoid eating or drinking alcohol within a few hours of bedtime. As your body works to digest food or process alcohol in your system, it can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. Caffeine can be another issue for some people and it’s suggested that you cut your caffeine intake as of 2 pm. (You might need to experiment a bit with your own caffeine intake to find just the right time for you!)
10) Put yourself first when it comes to sleep. Have a partner whose snoring is keeping you awake? A dog or kid who’s hogging the bed or covers? You may need to address these issues before you can solve your own sleep problems. I share my bed with an 85 lb German Shepherd – once she is asleep, she is SOUND asleep. So, I’ve found a few ways to keep her from interfering with my sleep. Believe it or not, this began with giving her a pillow of her own. I put it in the spot I want her sleeping in and it works like a charm to keep her contained in that area. In case she stretches out and starts hogging the covers, I keep an extra blanket on the chair next to my bed so I can just grab it whenever I need to. No more problems with waking up cold in the middle of the night!
What about you? What are you tips for getting a good night’s sleep?
Be sure to check out the other posts in this month’s Feelin’SoFabulous series: