Monday, October 13, 2014

day 13: sleep...

This post is part of my series on 31 days to more order.  For a complete listing of posts and topics, go here.

Since I'm talking about taking care of ourselves as a way to more order and balance, I thought I'd talk about sleep today.  Sleep is something that we require but in all likelihood we aren't sleeping enough or have restful sleep the whole night. 

I love sleep.  I always have.  I was one of those children who came home from kindergarten and took a nap.  My mom tells me that I cried when I realized first grade was full day and I wasn't allowed to nap.  I've always been a good sleeper and can sleep anywhere.  I remember falling asleep in the stands of a nascar race.  In my defense it was a long race without any cautions and the drone of the cars going around and around lulled me to sleep. 

Although, as I've gotten older my ability to fall asleep and my sleep patterns have changed.  It is primarily due to becoming a mother and marrying a night owl.  My husband thinks nothing of staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning, while I love nothing more than going to bed at 10 or 10:30.

When my kids were little, I committed to giving them the gift of being good sleepers.  To me that meant following the published guidelines for the amount of sleep needed at their age, here's a link to one such article.  I also trained my children to be able to fall asleep pretty much anywhere not just in their rooms or beds or controlled environment.

As my sleep patterns changed, I recently realized that I needed to commit to changing some things so that I could get a better sleep.  I always feel much more prepared to face the day, week or life in general when I'm completely rested.  Don't you?  So I took a look at what experts where saying on how to get more sleep and here's a few suggestions:

1. Commit to a regular bed time.  This seems like a no brainer for my kids, but for some reason I don't always follow it for myself.  So, I'm trying to get to bed between 10 and 10:30 every night.  One thing this change means is that I won't see my husband before bed on the nights he works and doesn't get home until 11:00.

2. Don't watch the news or read anything disturbing before going to bed.  I used to work with a cardiac surgeon who recommended that his patients not watch the news the night before their surgery.  His reasoning, and medical studies have proven, that the last thing you put in your mind was what your brain processed all night.  Why go to bed with depressing news on your mind? 

3. Intentionally create a sleep mood in your room.  My husband and I don't do anything in our bed but sleep and well, you know, do married people stuff.  We also don't have any external light or lights on in our room to distract our bodies from sleep.  These two things create an environment of sleep for us.  

4. Adjust your thermostat.  I also set the room temperature to 68 degrees, which experts recommend as the most optimal temperature for sleep.  We do add extra blankets on the all  beds in case someone needs extra snuggle. 

5. Limit caffeine and alcohol.  This is pretty self explanatory.  Limit the things that will cause you to stay awake or cause you to have restless sleep.

6. Make a list.  One thing that disturbs my sleep is having my to do list running in a constant loop around in my brain.  So either write it down before you go to bed or keep a pad of paper by the bed.  Once you write it down, it should be off your mind and make it easier to sleep.

7. Gratitude.  Sometimes our problems can't be taken off our minds just by writing a to do list.  Life isn't easy and sometimes it's hard to see the good in our daily life.  So one habit that can make us more thankful is to write a down what we are thankful for.  It doesn't have to be a formal gratitude journal, you can simply write down 3 things that you are thankful for that day.  End your day by writing down three things that you are thankful for and it will give you more peaceful and pleasant things to focus on as you fall asleep.

8. Pray.  I typically end my day in pray.  I find comfort in thanking God for my blessings and everything He's doing in my life.  Even if I have unanswered prayers (which let's face it, we all do because God doesn't give us everything we want.  But He does give us what we need), I focus on what I'm thankful for and pray that back to Him.  It is a great way to go to sleep!

Hopefully by following some of these suggestions, you can get the sleep you need.  I'm already seeing a difference in my sleep in just the past few weeks of committing to an earlier bed time.  Of course, it means I miss seeing Ink Master on Tuesday nights but thankfully we have on demand so I can watch it any time...

Are you getting enough sleep?  If not, why not commit to changing one or two things can help towards getting you the much needed rest your body craves?  Getting more sleep is something that can only help us.


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