Sweet dreams are made of this…

sleep-movie-theater

I need your help! Disclaimer: This is a post about getting better sleep. If you sleep well, it’s cool if you don’t want to read it (because why would you if you sleep) but I do need your help. So, if you’re a friend, acquaintance, complete stranger or someone who barely tolerates me, but you have things that help you sleep, can you add them to the comments section. I would greatly appreciate it!

I don’t sleep much. I talk about this often. There are stretches of time (I mean weeks to months…years) when I only get two or three hours of sleep a night. I work on little but sheer motivation and coffee. On a “good” night, I’ll get five hours of sleep but still wake up frequently. Some people ask me how I do it, but I’m just used to it. And sometimes my greatest ideas come to me at night. I feel like a super-genius! But when I get up, I forget 70% of what I thought was so amazing.

  • Are you having trouble sleeping or finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning?
  • Do you have trouble concentrating when you’re doing things?
  • Do you fall asleep while reading or watching TV?
  • Are you forgetful, irritable or jumpy?

If you said yes to any of these, congratulations, you’re probably just like me! Sorry, I started writing before I had coffee, so my joke is probably not appropriate here. But if you are, you could be experiencing signs of sleep deprivation (lack of sleep).

Many studies show the importance of sleep to our overall health. Not sleeping enough impacts your mood, concentration, slows down your metabolism and can ruin your skin. The amount of sleep that’s enough varies depending on your age and the source of information. According to Canadian and U.S. guidelines, adults should get approximately eight hours sleep, while teens need around nine to 10 hours. However, I’ve also read that some adults can function well on as little as six hours sleep and some need as much as nine hours to feel their best.

The causes of sleep deprivation are as varied as its symptoms.

cruise

Drinking alcohol late at night can ruin your sleep, so try not to have any drinks a few hours before you go to bed.

Some include:

  • stress-related insomnia,
  • medical disorders such as sleep apnea (you stop breathing for short periods of time during sleep), lung functioning and thyroid diseases, narcolepsy (uncontrollable attacks of drowsiness or sleep),
  • hormonal changes for women (e.g. getting your period, pregnancy or menopause),
  • having children that have needs at night,
  • a change in your regular sleep routine, such as late-night studying for exams or a change in work shifts, and
  • too much stimulation right before you go to bed, including phones, tablets, computers and television (including writing blogs late at night!).

Whether you suffer from a sleep condition, or if you struggle with bouts of sleep deprivation when your stress is high, you can follow some steps that can help improve your sleep. You may have to change your routine to get some of these done.

  • Stick to a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Exercise daily, it has beneficial effects on sleep, but try not to do strenuous exercise late at night.
  • Avoid or reduce your caffeine intake, especially later in the day.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol late at night or before you go to bed.
  • Eat a balanced diet, but avoid large meals and beverages late at night.
  • Relax before bed, for example, take a warm bath, meditate or do some very light yoga.
  • Remove distractions in the bedroom such as loud music, bright lights, your phone, a TV, tablet or computer (including writing blogs and social media).
  • Don’t try to go to sleep if you’re not tired. If you’re tossing and turning, get out of bed and do something else until you’re tired.

To nap or not to nap?

ebony

My cat Ebony’s “why’d you wake me up from a nap” face

 

Napping has been a subject of debate for years. Is it good for you, or isn’t it? Some studies have shown that napping can be beneficial for some people and certain circumstances. For example, people that work in shifts may benefit from taking naps because they’re unable to maintain a regular sleep schedule.  On the other hand, napping is most likely not a good idea for people that have insomnia.

I’m a napper. I always have been. In high school and university I would take power naps right after school and then start doing my homework. It kept me more alert, but I couldn’t sleep for more than 30 minutes or I was groggy and useless. Speaking of being groggy and useless,  I’ve always read that pets are like you. My cat, when he was alive, used to wake up the same way. I think we even had the same “what are you saying?” look on our faces until at least an hour had passed.

I haven’t been able to nap lately. Maybe this is part of my problem! How amazing it would be to have some time right now to put my head on a lush pillow and wrap myself in my Montreal Canadians blanket, just for 20 minutes.

One Mayo Clinic article, Napping: Do’s and don’ts for healthy adults, offers some great tips on appropriate napping habits.

Like many health-related issues, healthy lifestyle habits result in better sleep. If you find that your lack of sleep makes it difficult or impossible to function during waking hours, or if your sleep problems continue for more than three or four weeks, see your doctor.

Do you have any tricks for sleeping better? I’m willing to try almost anything, even if it reduces some of my super-genius breakthroughs that never materialize come morning!

Some additional resources
New study finds sleep deprivation boosts intake of fat, from psychcentral.com
Sleep deprivation effects on memory, from webmd.com
New study shows sleep deprivation can increase productivity at work, shape.com

53 replies »

  1. My whole family deals with chronic sleep issues, so I’ve struggled with my sleep since puberty. Melatonin and other natural remedies do nothing. Hormone therapy in my college days improved nothing. I’ve tried every sleep aid under the sun, over-the-counter and prescription. Finally one of my doctors suggested I do a genetic test specifically tailored to see how your body metabolizes various substances… Turns out my body doesn’t metabolize standard sleep medications, but an anti-psychotic came up on the green-light list. I’ve been sleeping well for the last year! I hate to resort to prescriptions, but I finally found something that works after years and years of not sleeping.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for sharing what works for you. Those things don’t work for me either..I will try a genetic test to see how my body metabolizes medications. That would work for so many things too. I really appreciate it. I don’t like prescriptions either, but sleep is sleep and we can’t function properly without it! Thank you again, have a wonderful day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a few recommendations that have helped me.
    1. Keep a pencil and small notebook with a booklight near your pillow. If you get an idea at night, flip open the notebook, turn on the booklight and write it down. It’s written down. You don’t have to think to remember it. You can review the notebook later and give it the thought it deserves. Now turn off the light and let the thought go, so your brain can shut down properly. A computer will shut down a lot slower if it has a lot of background processing running. Your brain is similar.
    2. Speaking of writing things down, if your mind is running full steam at night, write down a to-do list for the following day, and write down any ideas and plans you are making. It’s OK if they are incomplete. Just note “holes” in the plans. You can update those plans and notes with more detail later. This also coincides with a lot of advice on how to be more successful. (Using your night-time thoughts to improve workflow for the following day.)
    3. Don’t pile pillows too high. I’m a toss-n-turner, so a big pile of pillows just leads to neck cramps. One small pillow works for me. If I need to prop up my head a little more, I slip my arm under my head. It’s not just any pillow, either. It’s a memory foam pillow. So good.
    4. Speaking of memory foam, a good memory foam matress has done so much good for my sore back. I love it. Just make sure you are comfy before your body heat makes the memory foam go squishy. If you have to rearrange yourself, you’ll have to fight a gradient to reach a comfortable position, until your new outline goes squishy.
    5. Avoid drinking after 8 PM. A little cotton mouth in the morning is preferable to interrupting a good night’s sleep.
    6. Avoid caffeine after 2 PM. I am actually a recovering caffeine addict. I can have a caffeinated drink at lunch, or from the drink machine at the 2PM siesta time, but mostly, I avoid caffeine. The body eventually becomes dependent on caffeine, and won’t operate any better with it than a body that is accustomed to not relying on caffeine. So just turn off the caffeine crutch. Your body engine will run rough for a couple of weeks, but when you return to normal, you’ll be surprised at how well you can function without it. If you follow the advice in point 2 above to write down a to-do list the prior day, you can run on auto-pilot in the morning, running down that to-do list until your brain finishes waking up. (I’m a nightowl, so it can take a while for my brain to boot up.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you thank you thank you for these tips!! I appreciate how much you provided in your comment!! We are very similar it seems! I avoid caffeine after 4pm but I will bump it up to 2pm and I only have one a day now..it did take a while to get accustomed to it. I am a nightowl also so it takes a while to boot up too, love the suggestions for 1 and 2. I don’t have a memory foam pillow, I will try that next. I sleep the exact same way as you! I will definitely give these all a try!! Much appreciated. Have a wonderful day!

      Like

  3. I have suffered with sleeping issues for years. Especially when I was at uni.

    I discovered a sleep pillow spray and sleep balm for wrists and neck (containing lavender) by a brand called It Works. And well, they work amazingly!!!! I also downloaded a sleeping app where you can put together sounds like “rain on a roof”, “wind”, “urban rain” etc etc and I was so surprised at how it put me to sleep…considering I usually need dead silence to fall asleep.
    And I also swear by Swisse Sleep supplements or any sleep supplements that contain valerian 🙂

    Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Kealy! I completely forgot about lavender sleep pillow spray by It Works! I used to use that too. Thank you thank you thank you for your comment. I would never have remembered (possibly because I haven’t slept since then!) I will look into the sleep supplements too. I appreciate you taking the time to provide your tips! Have a wonderful day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reduce the intake of coffee or caffeine. Manage your stress. Don’t work late. Get relaxing or refreshing time daily, Eat more fruits, Drink more water, don’t keep too much on your heart at a go. Go to bed early. I believe this few tips can help get a better sleep.

    Excellent post

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey!

    Some of the stuff I was going to suggest you’ve already tapped into. I used to take naps everyday, back when I was in my Masters program. I’d set an alarm for 30 minutes and I think with the amount of stress I was feeling, I didn’t have a hard time falling asleep. I felt rejuvenated after. A nap for 20-30 minutes was enough for me. I think they actually call them “cat naps” so you used an appropriate picture for that.

    As for getting to sleep, I’ve noticed that if I do my meditation practice in the morning, I don’t feel the need for a nap throughout the day. It also helps quiet my mind (for at least half a day). I may even do it at night if I feel like I won’t be able to get a good night’s sleep.

    Try youtubing some guided meditations.

    (I haven’t personally used that specific video and hopefully the link works, but maybe try that. It’s shorter than the ones I’ve done before. Hopefully there aren’t ads that randomly pop up in the middle of it. I just typed in “guided meditations sleep”).

    I used to also read in bed (still working on finishing book #5 of Harry Potter). I used to use a lamp on my nightstand because it’s easier on the eyes. I would try avoid watching Netflix (which has been hard to do, but I make an excuse by dimming the screen brightness) or being on my phone because the brightness causes issues with sleeping.

    A good night’s sleep for me is either 6 or 8 hours. If I sleep for 7 hours, I feel groggy..it’s really weird. I’m also groggy if I get below that or above those hours. Some people drink warm milk to help them sleep, or some tea (without caffeine, of course).

    Exercising also helps wear me out sometimes.

    I LOVE SLEEP, THOUGH! I’m not currently working and just studying for my Masters exam, so it’s difficult to get out of bed sometimes. Especially if I’m feeling down, but I try to make goals for myself and try to be proud of myself for accomplishing them, no matter how small they are. For example, I didn’t go back to sleep this morning (Sharm win). I made a goal to drink coffee, meditate, eat breakfast, and go to the gym. I’m just waiting for my food to digest so I can go to the gym (don’t feel like projectile vomiting on an elliptical). So I’m 3 for 4..I’ll take it!

    Anyway, it looks like either you tapped into these suggestions or your followers’ comments have as well..but these are the things that work for me.

    Good luck! I hope you find something that works for you. Geez, this ended up longer than I intended.

    S. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for your suggestions!! I truly appreciated it and sharing the meditation video. I used to take cat naps too when I was in school and found it helped. I wonder if that would help again…. And I appreciate the amount of information you put into your comment; it definitely wasn’t long for me! I will try these. Have a wonderful day 🙂

      Like

  6. I used to have these issues but I found that going to bed when I’m actually tired helps. It sounds weird but if I lay down before I’m actually sleepy I just sit up on my phone or tend to feel lazier. When I’m actually sleepy I find getting into bed is easy and I fall right asleep because I can barely keep my eyes open and I find waking up much easier and feel much more rested.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi Samantha! I have the same problem. What helped me a ton was Omega 3 before bed. It doesn’t make you groggy. It’s that I don’t eat fish. And Omega 3 does something to control the cortisol buildup in your brain that grows when your sleeping and causes a surge like an anxiety attack.

    Also don’t check the clock. The clock is so tempting. Just trust your alarm will wake you up. I jolt myself awake thing about 90 minute sleep cycles and if I should wake up or not. Don’t be me hahaha! I try not to do this.

    Don’t nap! Take a walk to revive your energy or do a few jumping jacks in your office + B vitamin (not after 4pm or you’ll never sleep at night).

    Meditate on something over and over again. The repetition after maybe 10 minutes will lull you to sleep and trap your thoughts so they aren’t hindering your sleep. At first you’ll be like this is waking me up but it’s not! I’m a Christian so I meditate on Bible verses 🙂

    Hope this helps! No sleep is yucky!

    Liked by 4 people

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