Do you wake up feeling as if you haven’t slept at all? Are you cutting away at sleeping hours because you need more time to get things done? You’re not alone. About 20% of Americans report getting less than six (6) hours of sleep on average. Recent studies show that health risks like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity have all been linked with chronic sleep loss. Driving while drowsy is as bad as driving while intoxicated! 28% of working adults report having missed work, events, activities or made errors at work because of sleep-related issues in the previous three months. We have slower reaction time, weaker memory and other thinking impairments.
Outside of having some type of medical sleep disorder, for which you should consult medical help, what are some tips you can use for getting a better night’s sleep?
- 1. Set out everything the night before: clothes, breakfast, pack your lunch, and put everything you need right next to the door so you don’t have to think about it before bed. It also gives you extra time in the morning.
- 2. Get into a regular bedtime routine about an hour before you SHOULD go to bed that can include a warm bubble bath or shower, a cup of herbal tea, 10-15 minutes of light stretching (not heavy exercise). However, do exercise daily to help your sleeping, but do it a few hours before bedtime.
- 3. Have a very light snack (oatmeal is good for helping you sleep), but don’t go to bed either too hungry or too full. Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime!
- 4. Eliminate the use of your laptop, TV and cell phone an hour before bed – the light from them will help keep you up. This means those bright clock lights as well! Keep the room as dark as possible.
- 5. If outside noise bothers you, try a white nose machine – I especially like the sound of waves on the beach!
- 6. Keep the bedroom on the cooler side and snuggle down with an extra blanket instead.
- 7. Turn off the lights every night at the same time, and get up at the same time each morning. Train your body to get into a routine.
- 8. If you find you can’t sleep, get up and out of the bedroom, and go do something like reading quietly, or journaling. But try to do something that doesn’t get your brain going 100 miles an hour.
- 9. Keep a notepad next to your bed so that, if you need to, you can jot down something you need to remember for the next day. Once you do a brain dump, you know you won’t forget it because it’s written down.
- 10. Pray and/or meditate before bed.
For more information about sleeping, check out the National Sleep Foundation’s website at http://www.sleepfoundation.org/, and I also recommend a book by Dr. Archibald D. Hart entitled, “Sleep, It does a Family Good: How Busy Families Can Overcome Sleep Deprivation.”
I think I was born sleep-deprived, and I am the worst when it comes to cutting into sleep time to do one or two more things before bed. To tell you the truth, I have always resented sleep because I felt like I could be doing SO much more! But I have come to realize how critical it is to get a good night’s sleep – consistently – and I now cherish those beautiful little 20 minute cat-naps that on rare occasions I sneek into my schedule. I know what it’s like to drive so tired that the road is blurry, or to desperately try and keep my eyes open during a meeting and fight the “sleepy head drop whiplash” move.
Today, exercise your right to a healthy and restful, restorative and recuperative time of sleep. Make it a treat – get some new pretty jammies, or sheets. Grab some bubble bath, put on some soft music and grab that herbal tea, and soak for 30 minutes in the tub. Then get yourself ready quietly and calmly and ease yourself into bed. Take good care, and nighty-night!