My husband has said many times, that he doesn’t think I slept for 10 years! Yikes! I’m not sure how totally accurate his 10 year estimate is, but anything even close to that scares me to think about. How did I survive? Looking back, I honestly don’t know!
In my particular case, I blame stress and out of balance hormones for my decade of lost ZZZZs. Stress and hormones are a bit of a vicious cycle. Out of balance hormones can cause you to sleep poorly, leaving you tired and less able to cope with everyday life and therefore lead to stress. Stress can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in your body, leading to poor sleep and other symptoms. So it’s a bit of a chicken and egg question as to which came first? I wonder if my out of balance hormones led to poor sleep and therefore stress or was it my stress that caused the hormonal crazies in the first place?! I may never know, and at this point, knowing isn’t as important as making sure it never happens again.
If I knew then!
I just wish I knew then how important sleep is to the body. Of course, I knew it wasn’t ideal to sleep as poorly as I did, and I wasn’t happy about my sleeping issue, but somehow I got by and learned to live with it. It became my “new normal”. Certainly over the years I tried to solve it and did make some good progress in latter years, but not before it took its toll.
Not only does it feel good to get a good night’s sleep but your good health depends on it!
While you sleep your amazing body is hard at work repairing cell damage, reducing inflammation, detoxifying and keeping your immune system strong. If you’re not getting the right quality
of sleep your body cannot achieve all it needs to do to keep you in tip top shape. For me personally, I think my poor sleep contributed to my poor health. I’m not saying I got breast cancer just
because I didn’t sleep, but I do believe that my immune system was compromised because of it. No one thing gives you cancer, I think of it as a “perfect storm” and for me I truly believe that my decade of lost sleep put me in a vulnerable situation and gave disease an opportunity and an “in”.
Please don’t make the same mistake!
I would love to save anyone the pain of dealing with a health crisis and so I’m getting on my wee “soap box” here and pleading with you all to prioritize your sleep.
Tips for a better nights sleep!
- Commit to an amount of sleep and back out your bedtime from there. The recommended sleep range for adults is 7-9 hours. It might seem like a huge deal to go from 5 hours to even 7 hours, so try adding a ½ hour each night for a week and then another ½ hour the next week and build up. The key is to start and the goal is to re-set your body clock so that you have a regular bedtime and wake time.
- Your bed is for sleep and romance only! NOT for watching TV, computer use and playing Words with Friends. You know who you are ;)
- Treat your bedroom as a Sanctuary. De-clutter and create a calm peaceful environment conducive to a good nights sleep. Don’t keep work by your bed or stacks of papers or files in the bedroom. These things distract the mind and create a negative vibe in what should be a peaceful oasis.
- Plan ahead. Try not to eat too close to bedtime as your body will be too busy digesting when it should be relaxing and repairing.
- Wind down with a nice cup of tea (you know I’m a big fan). I always have a cup of chamomile tea in the evening, but I try to have it 90 minutes before bed, so that I’m not running to the bathroom during the night.
- Dim the lights. Turn off bright or overhead lights later in the evening. Soft, lamplight will help you to relax and wind down readying you for sleep.
- Orange is the new blue! If you’re using your computer or phone in the evenings, surfing the web, catching up with all your Facebook friends or shopping then be sure to download a screen-dimming app. I admit this is part of my nightly routine, so I totally get it. My solution is the f.lux app that dims and warms my screen with the evening. You simply tell it where you are in the world, and it does the rest! This way, you avoid staring at the sleep disrupting blue light that tricks and confuses your body into thinking its daytime.
- Quiet time. Create at least 30 minutes of quite right before bed. This means, turning the TV off and no more screens.
- Buzz kill! Don’t drink caffeine too late in the day. Even if you’re one of those people who think caffeine doesn’t stop you from getting to sleep, it can disrupt your sleep. I’m a bit hardcore on this, and think stopping caffeine by noon is ideal, but if you’re trying to make a change here, start by backing up your last caffeinated drink gradually over a couple of weeks.
- Blackout! Sleep in a dark, quiet room. All those little lights that are on everything these days seem intense when you’re lying in the dark and can also cause sleep disruption. I went around my bedroom and used electrical tape (opaque and comes in lots of colors) to cover any offenders. Black out shades are a great way to keep streetlights or that full moon out of your bedroom, but a quick, easy solution is to sleep with an eye-mask (which I do when I’m in a hotel room).
- Cool it! Studies show that in general the ideal temperature for sleep is quite cool, around 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures too much lower or higher than this can cause restlessness. Temperatures in this range facilitate the decrease in core body temperature that in turn initiates sleepiness and help you drift into bliss.
Whatever your reason, or dare I say “excuse” in some cases for not getting an adequate amount of sleep, I’m here to tell you, you need to find a way to fix it. Good sleep is the foundation of good health and needs to be a priority. I often hear people say, “I can get by on 4-5 hours of sleep” like that’s a cool thing. Well, it’s not. I know life is busy and full and some days you just don’t know how you’ll get it all done. What seems to happen for many people is that sleep is very much at the bottom of the priority list and basically gets whatever (little) time is left.
Sleep well and you will give your body the tools it needs to fight for you.
How’s your sleep? Do you struggle with getting to bed on time? Have you found the perfect formula for a restful night? Please share below and sweet dreams to you all!