Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sleep Hygiene

My mom was in the hospital recently, and my daughter and I had the opportunity to camp out with her. We had a good time chatting and watching my mom hit on every guy that came by her room. Since she's 80+, this tended to be pretty hysterical.

Part of the reason she was in the hospital was because of problems with her medications, so before she was released the next day, the doctor talked with her about her medications. One of her pills is a sleeping pill meant to help her relax when going to bed. But my mom doesn't like the sleep medication because it screws up her day.

The doctor seemed a bit confused and after talking with my mom, she taught us a common sense term we all ignore: sleep hygiene.

What sleep hygiene is, is preparing yourself and your environment for sleep. It may sound simple, but as the doctor talked, I realized just how much I was sabotaging my own sleep. Take a look at these suggestions provided by our doctor. Almost all of them I break regularly.
  • Schedule enough time to get about 8 hours of sleep
  • Try not to nap during the day, or if you do, keep it under an hour
  • Avoid activating activities before bed - things that get your heart rate up
  • Signal your body that rest is coming by engaging in restful activities before bed like reading a book
  • Don't watch T.V. close to bed
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed
  • Go to bed and get up at the same times every day
  • Avoid eating before bed, or make it a light snack
Whether you're a writer or not, we all push ourselves pretty hard. Sleep loss is usually where we attempt to make up the difference. But science has proven that you can't 'catch up' on sleep. There is no 'sleep bank.' If you miss it, it's gone and your body has to struggle on without it. After enough time, our bodies can't maintain themselves with the level of abuse we're providing. Something will break.

The Challenge
For two weeks, maintain better sleep hygiene. After two weeks, evaluate your progress. How do you feel? Do you notice a difference? Do you fall asleep quicker? Do you still tire during the day?

Journal your results.

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