Sleep — It Does A Body Good

llustration of a person asleep-background of stars

“Dear sleep, I’m sorry we broke up this morning.
I want you back!”

~ Anonymous

Last night I had the worst sleep!

I wanted to do some writing. I had a lot of ideas I wanted to get down on paper (digital paper). But, I felt so exhausted, I could barely make my fingers move on the keyboard.

So I gave up and got myself ready for bed — but…

My brain had other ideas. I tossed and turned. I tried hatching schemes to stop the loud, guttural noises coming from hubby’s side of the bed. I tried counting sheep, chickens and even cows. I attempted to think of nouns and visualize them. Nope — that didn’t work.

I turned on my left side, switched to my right side, flopped on my stomach, tried lying on my back.

Meditation, you ask? A great idea — but no joy. My mind refused to cooperate.

Image of a flock of sheep
Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels

Nothing helped. I finally realized that resistance was futile — I jumped out of bed (frightening the dog in the process). I remembered that some people find doing a bit of reading helps them to settle.

I sat down in the living room, grabbed my book, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, and opened up the memoir.

Hmmm, the words seemed familiar. Had I read this part before or, was I experiencing a weird deja vu? More reading, more confusion. I guessed that I had misplaced my bookmark and was rereading a portion of the book. So I spent a good ten minutes trying to find my place. (I was irritated by rereading those paragraphs — I wanted to have a calming experience to help me relax into a sleepy haze).

I found the spot where I had stopped previously and testily put my bookmark where it should have been and slammed the book closed. I was too annoyed to read further. By this time, I had been up for over an hour – including the time spent tossing and turning. 

Back to bed, I trudged. I climbed in under the covers and hoped for the best. The next thing I knew, my alarm was blaring — ugh, morning already!

Usually, I don’t have any problems drifting off to the Land of Nod, but last night’s debacle is something I don’t want to relive. I decided to research some techniques for getting a goodnight’s rest.

If you, like me, turn into a Godzilla-like creature when you’ve had a restless night, then you know the value of good sleep! When you are well-rested, you have more energy, more focus and, you feel more optimistic.  

Quality sleep is fundamental to your physical well-being and your emotional health too. Studies have shown that good sleep is a significant factor in maintaining alertness and managing your emotions. Getting enough sleep can boost your cognitive skills and memory. Consistent, restful sleep can help you manage depression and anxiety. 

Did you know your body works hard while you sleep to repair cells and strengthen your immune system? More reason to develop good sleep hygiene!

Developing good sleep habits is vital to our overall well-being, especially as we age. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to acute health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, deterioration of the immune system and an increase in anxiety and depression. Researchers are studying the link between poor sleep and dementia. As well, there is growing evidence that chronic sleep deprivation can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

SLEEP TIP:

Some sleep problems can be the result of certain medical conditions or medications. Consult your physician or healthcare provider to rule out any illness or health concern.
Ask your doctor to review your medications.

Sleep problems are common these days. According to an infographic compiled by Reviewlution, a Canadian Health Measures Survey found 43% of men and 55% of women aged 18 to 64 have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Approximately 30% of Canadians suffer some form of sleep disorder. Head on over to Reviewlution to see their full report and infographic — 23+ Sleep Statistics for Canada in 2021  

Image of feet sticking out of the covers
Photo from Pexels

Five Easy Sleep Habits I Swear By

  1. Sixty Minutes. I like to start thinking about bedtime around an hour before nestling deep under a cozy duvet. I turn off the laptop, the tv, turn the ringer off my phone, and generally disengage from all screens and electronic devices. I usually read a few pages (got to finish my book club selection for this month!) or leaf through a magazine while sipping a cup of herbal tea. Then a few yoga poses or stretches to help quiet my mind and relax my body before my nightly ablutions.
  2. Stick to a Schedule. Some sleep gurus advise a regular schedule that includes going to bed and waking up at consistent times. This tip works great for me. It helps to have a dog for this! Dogs love their routines. Frankie (my dog) wakes up at five a.m. like clockwork!
  3. Open a Window. I always sleep with a bedroom window open — even in the winter. I love the cool (or cold) fresh air filling my room during the night. I sleep better in a crisp breeze!
  4. No Snacking! Some people like to have a light snack before bed — a glass of milk or a banana. Not me. I find eating anything in the evening makes it more difficult for me to drift off to sleep. I rarely have a snack, even a healthy one, after dinner.
  5. Limit Caffeine. I have friends who maintain that a cup of coffee after dinner does not affect their sleep — at all! Lucky them! If I have any caffeine after 3:00 pm, I am toast! I will be up for hours and suffer the consequences the next day. I stick to water as my beverage of choice throughout the afternoon and evening. I LOVE my sleep too much to take a chance. No matter how delicious that coffee smells!

Those are some of the strategies I use to create good sleep habits. They work wonders for me, maybe they will work for you! 

More Strategies

If you experience a sleepless night, these 6 Tips for the Day After a Bad Night’s Sleep may help.

Do you feel exhausted most of the time? Try 6 Top Tips to Beat Your Midlife Fatigue from Crunchy Tales.

The Health Guide has some great sleep advice for older adults.

This post about Sleep Hygiene from Sleep Foundation explains the importance of good sleep hygiene and how to practice it.

Maybe the sound of traffic, noisy neighbours, or the hum of appliances keeps you awake at night. Try playing white noise when you are ready for sleep. Relaxingwhitenoise.com has a well-stocked library of sleep-friendly sounds on its YouTube channel. Try Rainforest Sounds for Sleeping or Studying.

Would you like to fall asleep in minutes? This YouTube video shows you how to do just that!

How is your sleep? Do you have any tips for better sleep? Please share them in the comments section below. It is never too late to improve your sleep habits!

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