I have taken a very deliberate break from blogging and social media lately, as the demands of my day job have been consuming my time and energy. And much like others at the beginning of every new year, I have been trying to lose a few stubborn pounds that have crept on. I already have a pretty healthy diet and exercise program, so I decided reducing stress and getting some extra sleep might just be the two missing factors. And when your schedule is already overflowing and you need some extra Zzzzs, something has to give – for me that was writing and browsing social media.
But, with Sleep Awareness Week around the corner it was time to write a new post….
It Begins with Sleep
If “cotton is the fabric of our lives”, sleep should be considered the fabric of bodies and minds, weaving together all of the ingredients to help us reach our goals. Sleep allows us to recharge, makes us less hungry, makes us more focused and productive, and keeps us happier and less stressed. For more about the benefits of sleep, visit here.
The word I am focusing on this year is Deliberate, so that included being more deliberate and intentional about getting a restful night sleep. I have some links below to past blog posts describing what I do to unwind at bedtime and prepare myself for bed and sleep. These days, even that takes preparation.
Sleep and Electronics
It seems that while most people know these things, not everyone is listening. People use their smartphones as alarm clocks – so the device is usually just an arm’s reach away from the bed. Tempting to reach for it when we hear the buzz or ding of some email or post! While it’s best to keep your smartphone in another room altogether, if you’re going to use is as an alarm clock, use these other features too:
- Use the “Do Not Disturb” feature so that you’re not being bombarded with alerts all night.
- Make sure the display is off to avoid “blue light” emissions that suppress melatonin.
- Use a sleep timer and play some soothing sounds or music to help you fall asleep.
- Keep it far enough away that it’s not easy to reach for – and definitely don’t sleep with it under your pillow!
Sleep and Children/Teens
The actual Sleep Awareness Week this year (March 11-17th) happens to coincide with “Spring Break” around here in Texas. I find this funny, since teens see Spring Break as a time to abandon their normal sleeping routines and bedtimes, preferring to stay up late binge watching Netflix, playing video games, or Snap chatting with friends. All of this extra electronic stimuli wreaks havoc on their ability to disengage their brains for some good quality sleep. And we all know that teens rarely want to listen to the advice of their parents when it comes to bedtime, but getting quality sleep and having a regular routine can help anyone better manage stress and maintain healthy habits during the day.
I find it disturbing that I opened my Target ad today to find a sale on “sleep aids, sleep vitamins, or energy supplements” and one of the items depicted was “Children’s Sleep with Melatonin” that promotes restful sleep. As a society have we become so addicted to our “always on, always connected” mentality that we now have to give our children aids for sleeping? We would rather reach for a pill than change our habits to adopt healthy life style changes. That is definitely not me. I will do anything first before reaching for a pill, save for the few vitamins I take.
Sleep and Fibromyalgia
As someone who has suffered from fibromyalgia for almost 20 years now, I know the double-edged sword this condition creates. Lack of sleep exacerbates the pain and daytime fatigue, and the pain makes sleeping at night difficult. Then you add to that the OTC or prescription medication used to help one sleep, and that can add to the daytime drowsiness and hungover feeling. Although I still usually sleep about 6 hours during the week and 7-8 hours on the weekend, my goal is for quality, uninterrupted sleep to help me recharge. And that comes from good bedtime habits.
Here are some links to additional reading and past blogs about getting better sleep:
- National Sleep Foundation – Sleep for Teenagers
- Sleep.org – learn more about the positive benefits of sleep
My Past Blog Posts About My Sleep Strategies:
Begin with the End in Mind
When doing any sort of strategic planning session, I always “begin with the end in mind.” So when we are thinking ahead to the next day of our busy lives, we should think about getting a good nights sleep, design what we think that looks like, and then plan for that in our schedule as well. Remember, it begins with sleep.
Do you have any tips for better quality sleep? What are your bedtime routines?