How did you sleep last night? Did you get enough sleep? How was the quality?
I was so proud of myself last night because I wanted to start the week off right and I got myself to bed at a decent time, allowing myself 7 – 8 hours of rest before my alarm would wake me. Then I had horrible dreams, and although the amount of time I slept was good, the quality was poor and I got up feeling like I needed a couple more hours in bed. That got me thinking about the quantity vs quality, and what we can all do to promote a restful night.
First let’s take a step back and think about why sleep is so important.
*Sleep aides in both cognitive and physical function. I still struggle with, “chemo brain” and I notice it is worse when I am tired. However, you don’t have to have experienced chemo to struggle remembering things. We live in a fast paced world, with lots to do and remember, and it is that much harder without an adequate amount of sleep. The body’s response time is slower with less sleep. One cause of auto accidents is sleep deprivation because of the slowed mental and physical reaction of drivers. With quality sleep not only will you function better at work and home, but it also provides safety for yourself and others.
*A restful night leads to healthy decisions. When you feel rested, you are more likely to get in some exercise, or put more effort into it. When you exercise, and feel strong, you are more likely to make healthy food choices. Also, when you’re tired, it’s natural to reach for easy food solutions. Often that means package, processed, or even take-out, which are all going to leave you feeling more tired. One good habit leads to another, and I have said to my clients, it all starts the night before!
*Sleep aids the immune system. Getting an appropriate amount of quality sleep will help you fight off any germs you come into contact with and prevent illness. Although getting enough sleep during the holiday season is especially challenging, in many climates it’s also the cold and flu season, and it’s particularly important to keep your immune system in optimal condition with rest.
There are many reasons a person is fatigued from a poor night’s sleep. Let’s see if you can identify with any of these…
*You simply do not schedule enough time for sleep on a consistent basis.
*You cannot shut off your brain. I think this is one of the most common reasons for lack of sleep!
*You get up 1 or more times a night to use the restroom.
*You have a sleep condition
Although experts say that 7 – 8 hours of sleep is ideal, there are some people who need less, and some more. Each person is different and you need to find the amount that is best for you. When it comes to the quality of sleep, people often feel helpless, but there are things that you can do to set yourself up to promote sleep.
*Create a routine prior to going to bed. Turn off devices and write down anything you need to remember the next morning. Do you need to stop at the bank or post office? Write it down and get it off your mind. Then wash your face, brush teeth and apply lotion if you choose. Do you, just create some sort of routine. The point is to clear your mind and cue your body that it’s time to get ready to sleep.
*We are know that caffeine, can leave you tossing and turning, so be aware of when you are reaching for that pick me up and consider a non-caffeinated option. (Try water! Dehydration can lead to fatigue.)
*Be mindful of how much of anything you drink as you near your bedtime or you’ll be making several bathroom trips during the night.
*I said that a good night’s sleep will aid with exercise and healthy eating, and it goes both ways! Move your body and fuel your body with healthy food throughout the day and you will sleep better. Think of young children who run around and play hard..they also sleep hard. Have you ever noticed that you experience restless sleep after eating a greasy, high fat meal? Balanced nutrition is key for over-all wellness, including sleep.
*Consider oils. Lavender is known for relaxation and peppermint can help with pain. Both can be applied topically or diffused.
*Talk to your doctor about Magnesium. Magnesium can aid in relaxation, among other things, so talk with your doctor to make sure you are getting the appropriate dosage.
*Some people have found the supplement Melatonin to be helpful, while others say that it helps them go to sleep, but not stay asleep. Again, but sure to discuss this option with your doctor.
*Breathe. Try lying on your back and placing your left hand over your belly button and your right hand over your heart. Breath in and out, focusing on the rise and fall of your belly. With practice, this can help you clear your mind and relax your body.
*If you have been told that you snore while sleeping, be sure to talk to a doctor.
*Then, of course, there is the physical environment. Create a space that promotes rest by eliminating electronics, making the room dark and cool. For more on this, see the link below.
While you can’t necessarily control your dreams, there are many things you can do for a good night’s rest. (In my case, my hindsight is telling me not to watch crime tv shows before bed!) It may take some time and experimentation, but it’s worth the effort. Sweet dreams, my friend.