We all have some knowledge that sleep is a critical component for good mental and physical health. There is much research to support that after people sleep well, they tend to retain information and perform better on memory tasks. Our bodies all require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones.
As a teen, I would always get so very aggravated when my mom would point out the affects that lack of sleep had on my mood and attitude. After all, sleep should be a person's personal choice, right? RIGHT! As a mom myself, I now appreciate how important it is to help my children and myself make the right choices about sleep!
The single best thing I've ever done for myself is commit to my sleep. I shoot for 8 hours every night. This means committing to a bedtime based on when I need to wake the next day. The best approach is certainly to go to sleep at the same time every night but realistically that is not always an option.... especially when kids come home from college :)
Most of my life, I have been a pretty solid sleeper: hit the pillow, out hard, wake when I need to be up. Maybe that's why it hits me so hard when I don't get good sleep. Certainly, the years of raising babies was disruptive to a solid sleep schedule. Years of worrying over teenagers getting home safe and trials with family members made for plenty of later than necessary and disrupted nights. Recently, there has been the adjustment to instant menopause, which brings it's own sleeping issues. Then, there is the desire to participate in life late at night even when morning priorities will come early. Realistically, trying to 'sleep in' doesn't really work for my body anymore anyways.
REALITY: most every time I allow my sleep to be less than 7.5-8 hours, I am less productive, more anxious and generally more discontent with the next day.
Restless waking leads to sleep sabotage. BTW - the middle of the night is the worst time to solve the world's problems. I've also spent too many years trying to sort out the hours and minutes for the next day during the hours when I am supposed to be getting restorative sleep.
My commitment to strategies for sleep success:
- Decide how much sleep is ideal to feel most productive each day
- Stick to a bedtime as much as possible, regardless of how much is left on the todo list for that day
- Focus on awareness of timing of caffeine, medication, food and activities that affect sleep
- Prioritize tasks for the next day before bed to avoid anxious overthinking first thing in the morning
- Keep a journal next to the bed for ideas that pop up in the middle of the night
- Remove the many digital distractions at a set time every night
- Turn the phone on "night mode" so only emergencies can get through
- No lighting in the room, ceiling fan on, pillows in position, whatever makes sleep more comfortable for the planned period of sleep
When sleep is elusive and you feel the effects of it, it is worth figuring out what to do about it! There are meditations, apps, exercises, supplements, medications, etc that can help. Many doctors are such advocates for healthy sleep benefits that they will hook you up with a sleep study. These studies can help to identify possible treatments to aid in restorative sleep.
awareness + intentional action = good sleep + better me
"It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep." - Psalm 127:2 (ESV)
REFLCET => REGROUP => RECOMMIT => REAP => REJOICE