“You can’t stay married in a situation where you are afraid to go to sleep in case your wife might cut your throat.”
Uhhh…thanks for the advice?
Lately, I’ve been thinking about sleep.
Luckily, not for the same reasons as Mike Tyson.
I haven’t been sleeping well at all: tossing and turning, too hot, too cold, weird dreams…etc. Plus it doesn’t help that one of my cats takes up 1/3 of the bed and I’m sandwiched between her and my husband—who happens to fall asleep in less than 30 seconds. Jerk.
Because I have had trouble sleeping, I wanted to spend some time this morning writing about sleep and the relationship between overall health and lack of sleep. There’s a positive, strong correlation. Even though “correlation does not equal causation” there are robust findings from several major sleep studies that show that lack of sleep does cause immediate health problems and can contribute to long-term health issues as well. This may explain why I’m so weird–my sleep deprived brain isn’t working right!
One of the first articles I read today on sleep had the cheery quote:“Lose sleep, Lose your mind and health.” If that doesn’t convince you that getting good sleep is important, I don’t know what will.
According to the article, some of the outcomes of long term sleep deprivation (like fewer than 6 hours of sleep a night) are certain cancers, obesity, or stroke.
Plus, I just read this article where a guy from China died from a stroke after staying up for 48 hours to watch the World Cup. Crazy!
Okay, so I get that sleep is super important but what’s frustrating is knowing how valuable sleep is but not being able to sleep well. In the hopes of trying to get better sleep, and keep myself from going crazy from lack thereof, I will embark on a sleep journey where I try out the following for the next 30 days:
1. No technology before bed.
It seems like the artificial light could have something to do with the lack of release of melatonin – which is supposed to help us sleep. Okay, I’ll buy into this idea. I know that when I go camping and have no screen time I tend to sleep fairly deeply. But that could be because, while camping, I drink copious amounts of alcohol…
2. Change my diet: no sugar, alcohol, caffeine, or gluten
This one study found that people who sleep fewer than 6 hours a night drank less water and ate more carbs than people who slept longer. These “long sleepers” (more than 9 hours a night) also drank more alcohol than other groups of sleepers. I think that’s called passing out. But what do I know? The study also found that normal sleepers (people who sleep 7-8 hours a night) tend to consume a large amount of calories with a wide variety of food choices. This is getting complicated!
3. Get into bed earlier
This quote pretty much sums up all my prior attempts at going to bed earlier: “ ‘I made sure I had no plans tonight so that I can just turn in at 10 and get some serious rest,’ said the poor, naive fool who despite having a laptop next to his bed, four different shows he needs to catch up on, and a proclivity for wasting hours at a time on social media sites is genuinely convinced that he will be asleep at a reasonable hour.”
When I told my husband I would be going to bed by 8:30, he laughed and laughed. What a jerk! Okay, maybe he has a point. Challenge accepted—I will be in bed before my husband every night for the next 30 days!
4. Get up early
This is another topic my husband thinks is so funny. Every few weeks or so, I say “I’m going to start getting up early. You know, so I can write and do yoga and ‘greet the day’ without the kids, the dog, the cats annoying the hell out of me.” My life partner, my soul mate, my husband just looks at me and laughs. “You love to sleep in,” he always says, like what does he know? Oh wait, he’s been sleeping next to me for 14 years so I guess he does have a point. I also think I can count on one hand the times I’ve been up before him. Touche.
Getting up early usually doesn’t end up working out for me because I say stupid things like “I’m going to get up at 5:30 and go running.” This is pure foolishness! First of all, I don’t run anymore because no sports bra in existence seems to work me. Second of all, I feel like a stuffed sausage in my running pants, plus I think my cellulite-y thighs are mocking me by having no muscle tone to speak of.
I will, however, use the advice of people who seem to have this getting up early thing under control: I’ll get up 10 minutes earlier until I reach my goal wake up time. But I won’t use this time to be productive and get a start on my day—who am I, Oprah? Instead, I’ll read, drink a non-caffeinated fake coffee drink without sugar (see #2), write, and maybe do some yoga.
5. No naps
I heard that napping can be problematic if you have trouble getting and staying asleep. So I consulted a napping “no-no” website to get more information. While I got some good advice, like the importance of a routine, and yawning twice means it’s time for bed, and don’t eat before a nap, I realized that I was looking at a baby website and that the Baby Whisperer’s advice was probably not going to help me out in the long run. The pictures of babies sleeping sure were cute though—if only I looked that cute dozing off…
6. Yoga before bed
I totally believe that certain yoga asanas will help get your body and mind ready for bed. I looked over this article for a refresher on just which poses I should do before bed. But before the poses were even mentioned there were like 15 other steps to take first: keep a journal, give yourself a massage, breathe, eat a little bit but not too much and it has to be just the right food otherwise you’ve screwed yourself and might as well stay up all night praying you haven’t wrought irreparable damage to your brain and body.
And so on. Yikes! I had a mini panic attack wondering how I would get this pre-bed ritual in before actually going to sleep. I’ll just stick to some forward folds and legs up the wall.
I think I’m ready to tackle this sleeping issue – I have hope that I’ll be able to sleep soundly and peacefully soon. That is until one of my kids wakes me up saying “Mama, I’m having a blow out.” Or until the cat throws up on my bed. Or until the dog starts barking.
Please forgive all typos and terseness: I didn’t get much sleep last night.