Eleven Questions that Might Help You Sleep BetterBy Phyllis
July 09, 2008
Getting enough sleep is essential to our health and feeling of well-being. This article suggests some questions you might ask in order to take better care of yourself.
Do you take loving care of yourself around sleep? Our society tends to see sleep as optional, but taking the loving action to make sure you get enough sleep is essential to health and essential to living a life of peace and joy. Sleep deprivation means a lower vibration for the whole day. Why would you choose that? The following is is a checklist of possible issues that may be keeping you from getting the sleep you need.
How much sleep do you actually need? Do you know? Are you comparing yourself to other people and telling yourself how much sleep you "should" need? You could need 7 hours or your could need 9 or more. Only you can know. Is getting enough sleep a priority? If not, what are you making more important than getting enough sleep?
Is your bed right for you? Assuming you sleep in a bed, is it comfortable? Really comfortable?Right for you or right for someone else? Although some people can sleep anywhere, probably even standing up, if you are not one ofthem, having a comfortable bed (and bed clothes) is essential. Do you believe that you deserve to have a good bed or that the money you already spent for the wrong bed is more important than taking care of yourself? Do you like what you are wearing to bed? Would turning your bed in a different direction or putting it in a different place work better? What are you making more important than sleeping in a comfortable way?
Whom do you sleep with? Assuming you do not have a baby, or small child or someone who requires your care at night, can you sleep well with your bed partner or does your bed partner snore, or toss and turn or hog the entire bed or bruise you, voluntarily or involuntarily during the night? Are you being kept awake by a pet? If you are not sleeping well because of your bed partner, what or whom are you making more important than taking care of yourself around sleep?
What is your bedroom like? How does it make you feel to go in there? If your bedroom is a cluttered mess and you feel worse when you go in there, how can you take better care of yourself? Do you like the furniture? Do you like the color of the walls? If not what are you making more important? Going to bed in a room that activates your inner critic may not be conducive to restful sleep. Even if you have not totally gotten your life organized, can you make your bedroom feel like a sanctuary?.
Is your bedroom for sleeping? If you don't have any trouble sleeping, then it really does not matter, but if your bedroom is also used to watch TV or work on your computer or anything else, then you do not necessarily shift into sleep mode when you go to bed. If you tend to be addicted to TV, it might be hard to turn it off. It might be more loving to shift all that other stuff to another room or cover it up somehow.
Is your bedroom really dark? Light interferes with sleep, literally reducing the levels of the hormone melatonin that makes us sleepy. Any windows you have can be covered and it does not have to be expensive. For example, I have a double layer of curtains. The inside layer is black velvet-like material and the outside layer matches the room. Are there brightly-glowing electronic devices in the room? Can you close the door?
Is your bedroom quiet? This can be a real challenge, although we often get "used" to the noise. If the noise is bothering you, the usual suggestions are earplugs (even custom fitted ones that you can get from an audiologist), a fan or a sound machine. If the noise is from a snoring bed partner by the way, notice whether he (usually he) stops breathing or gasps during the night. If so, a sleep study is really a good idea. If you can really sleep thru the snoring, congratulations. If not, your other choice is to have a "snore bed" in another room.
Is your bedroom at the right temperature? For most people, a cool room, down below 65 degrees promotes the most restful sleep. Do you know what temperature works best for you? Is there some action you can take to create it?
Are you getting too much light before bedtime? About 2 hours before bedtime, it is a good idea to avoid bright lights. I installed dimmers in my kitchen and bathroom, because when I used to get ready for bed I would go into the bathroomto brush my teeth and suddenly I was completely awake. Now I understand that the bright light in the bathroom was waking me up.
Are you getting enough light in the morning? In our society we live in an artificial environment and forget that we are genetically programmed to sunlight and darkness. Light resets our circadian clock. Is your clock in phase? Do you feel sleepy at bedtime? Do you have a regular bedtime? Do you have trouble waking up? I use a bright light in the morning for 20 minutes. I eat my breakfast and read while the light is on. There are several on the market for this purpose (mine is an Apollo light). Until I started using it, I was tired at bedtime, but did not get sleepy until several hours later. I think this may have been aresult of being forced to go to bed at a certain time whether I was actually sleepy or not so for me, going to bed always meant an hour or more of lying awake. It was never connected to feeling sleepy. Now, I go to bed when I am sleepy which is a revelation. Fighting this sleepy feeling can also result in waking up and being unable to fall asleep. Use of light can stabilize your circadian sleep wake rhythm and also has a well-know anti-depressant effect.
Are you winding down before bedtime? We all tend to be so busy jamming everything into our day that we sometimes expect to go from full speed to asleep at the drop of a hat. Exercising vigorously before bedtime may not work. Setting aside time every night to meditate, listen to relaxing music, to dialog and especially to hold your inner child is a loving way to prepare for bed. The right snack might also help you sleep. Some people find a bath relaxing. Do you know what would work for you? Are you willing to take the time to do it, or is something else more important?
I realize this that much of the article was written without the perspective of a partner to consider. Getting enough sleep is just another relationship challenge, a way to learn to show up for yourself in a loving way instead of giving yourself up to someone else. In reality, many couples have different sleep-wake rhythms. Owls (late people) are often married to larks (morning people) and couples' sleep needs differ. In using these questions, you might need to let go of any fixed ideas of how it is supposed to work and be creative in focusing on what will work for both of you. For those of us without a live-in partner, hey... there are advantages :-).
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By Dr. Margaret Paul