Sleep. Beautiful, wonderful, magnificent and dreamy sleep. I love it. I lost it for well over a year. When I was sick, I would (day) dream about sleep but thanks to chemo, stress, tamoxifen, hot flashes, and steroids-steroids-steroids, I couldn’t get even 3 hours in a row.
During that time, I realized what a true luxury a good night’s sleep is (in addition to health, of course!). It was one of those, “you don’t realize how good it is until you lose it” kind of things. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than half of all Americans report having sleep problems almost every night. Stunning, right?
The ginormous Shining Moment is that finally, I have it back. And I am so f-bomb happy about it!
How am I doing it, you ask? Well, distance from all of those unsavory (but highly effective) treatments certainly helps. But I am also doing some very focused initiatives to help the process along.
First and foremost, I am turning my computer off (no email, FB, twitter, texts) at least an hour before I go to bed. This is HUGE! While doing research on this topic, I found a terrific article in the NYT on just this topic.
In today’s gadget-obsessed world, sleep experts often say that for a better night’s rest, Americans should click the “off” buttons on their smartphones and tablets before tucking in for the night. Electronic devices stimulate brain activity, they say, disrupting your ability to drift off to sleep. Increasingly, researchers are finding that artificial light from some devices at night may tinker with brain chemicals that promote sleep. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute showed that exposure to light from computer tablets significantly lowered levels of the hormone melatonin, which regulates our internal clocks and plays a role in the sleep cycle.
Secondly, I make sure that I am in bed for at least 8 hours, hoping that I get 7 hours of sleep. Well, ever since I committed to it, I am not only getting 7 hours, but I am asleep in under 10 minutes after laying my head on the pillow and wake up to an alarm. This means that I’m actually getting 7:45 of sleep (Woo hoo). My working theory is that because I have committed more time to sleep, and wind down sufficiently before bedtime, I am able to access a deeper rest.
Thirdly, I still take a nap during the day….almost every single day. Research (the real kind and personally) suggests that napping not only increases alertness and decreases stress, but it also contributes to a better night of sleep.
Fourthly, I am drinking 3 liters of water a day with sliced lemons and cucumbers and not eating sugar (including white food), all of which are contributing to a good night of sleep.
Ahhh! Sleep. It’s a beautiful thing.