I see it all over the blogosphere. Peeps complaining about their lack of sleep. I credit Susan with the inspiration for this post as she really got me thinking about this topic. She called a challenge to her readers to try to get more sleep. I gleefully accepted.
Next, I wanted to do a little research to enlighten my readers (and myself) on the dangers of too little (or too much) sleep and find some tips on how to get more sleep. But when the chips were down, this post is really just an excuse to publish random (read: evil) photos of friends and family sleeping. Well, that’s not entirely true…it’s a photo journal of what happens when you are sleep-deprived.
Aside from the obvious need for “Beauty Sleep” and mental focus, why do you want optimal amounts of sleep? Well, one reason has to do with weight gain. In particular, weight gain around the middle: You can call it a spare tire, love handles or a beer gut, but there is research that suggests that either too much (>8 or 9 hours) or too little (<7 hours) sleep can bloat your belly. LiveStrong.org just had a post about weight gain and lack of sleep. A recent article in the journal Sleep also found relationship between sleep extremes in minorities <40 years old and abdominal obesity. The medical research is plentiful Sleep is of utmost importance.
I hail from a confirmed line of quasi-insomniacs. My Mom used to nap in the afternoon only to be awake most of the night. My Dad (Hi Dad!) is a self-professed night-owl. I’m working against my DNA.
In recent months my previously acceptable “Sleep Hygiene” (real term) started to slip and I began going to bed later and later. Sadly, this was mainly due to the electronic wonder that is the internet. Whether it’s email, blogs, blogging, Twitter, Facebook or good old-fashioned internet ‘surfing’, I’m on the laptop until late. Frankly speaking, this needs to change.
I stayed up late night after night researching numerous sleep disorder websites (kidding!) to see what they are saying. Here are some recommendations from WebMD regarding sleep hygiene: with my corresponding comments in italics :
1. Avoid watching TV, eating, and discussing emotional issues in bed. The bed should be used for sleep and sex only. If not, we can associate the bed with other activities and it often becomes difficult to fall asleep.
Other resources say you shouldn’t even read in bed. I find this a bit harsh. When I get in bed with a good trashy In Touch magazine, I’m out by the second page. They forgot to bring this list into the new millennium…how about Electronic stimulation (NO! NOT THAT KIND!)… the internet vortex!
Even Samantha needs to turn off the laptop and get some shut-eye
2. Minimize noise, light, and temperature extremes during sleep with ear plugs, window blinds, or an electric blanket or air conditioner. Even the slightest nighttime noises or luminescent lights can disrupt the quality of your sleep. Try to keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature -- not too hot (above 75 degrees) or too cold (below 54 degrees).
I’m on board: I use eye-shades and ear plugs
Eye masks and Ear plugs- Must-haves for my beauty sleep.
Question: Why are these “WOMEN’S ear plugs? DOH, of course! They are PINK!
Sadly, eye-masks don’t come in Kitty-sizes.
3. Try not to drink fluids after 8 p.m. This may reduce awakenings due to urination.
Fail. I’m always up in the night to pee and step in cat barf.
What is that inside my water? Chia seeds. Sometimes I like the ‘chew’. Call me crazy.
4. Avoid naps, but if you do nap, make it no more than about 25 minutes about eight hours after you awake. But if you have problems falling asleep, then no naps for you.
I’m not really much of a napper. Well, perhaps sometimes…
Derek is an expert napper.
He naps long enough for BOTH cats to play “KING OF THE HILL”. (That’s Charlotte, RIP <3)
5. Do not expose your self to bright light if you need to get up at night. Use a small night-light instead.
Check. Derek keeps a closet light on all night long (so Un-Green!) SO THAT SAMANTHA CAN SEE. Hello, she’s a cat. She’s nocturnal. She can see an insect from across the room in pitch black darkness. I will not judge. Yes I will. However, even though Samantha doesn’t need the closet light, it does help me find the bathroom, but not the cat barf on the floor. Sigh.
6. Nicotine is a stimulant and should be avoided particularly near bedtime and upon night awakenings. Having a smoke before bed, although it may feel relaxing, is actually putting a stimulant into your bloodstream.
Not a problem. I have enough vices. Thankfully, smoking is not one of them. For one of my vices, see number 7.
7. Caffeine is also a stimulant and is present in coffee (100-200 mg), soda (50-75 mg), tea (50-75 mg), and various over-the-counter medications. Caffeine should be discontinued at least four to six hours before bedtime. If you consume large amounts of caffeine and you cut your self off too quickly, beware; you may get headaches that could keep you awake.
I’ve been told that any coffee consumed after noon can keep you awake. I said NOON! Other resources say 3pm. Regardless, it’s not a great idea to have that triple espresso after dinner. Having said that, my hubby can take the last sip of his espresso as he is actively falling asleep. Then again, he’s practically narco, remember?
8. Although alcohol is a depressant and may help you fall asleep, the subsequent metabolism that clears it from your body when you are sleeping causes a withdrawal syndrome. This withdrawal causes awakenings and is often associated with nightmares and sweats.
This is very true. If I’ve had a couple of drinks, I can wake up in the night and stay awake for some time.
Cheers! Well, best not to get too cheery before bedtime.
9. A light snack may be sleep-inducing, but a heavy meal too close to bedtime interferes with sleep. Stay away from protein and stick to carbohydrates or dairy products. Milk contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which has been shown in research to help people go to sleep. So milk and cookies or crackers (without chocolate) may be useful and taste good as well.
Anyone’s Mom used to give them warm milk when they had trouble sleeping as a kid? If you haven’t tried it recently, it’s worth revisiting. Personally, I don’t agree with the “stay away from protein” mumbo jumbo. Sometimes I have a microwave protein cake before bed and had no problemo. Like this one:
Nommy Protein cake…recipe in another post.
Some protein-spiked carby goodness: Pimped Protein Oats.
10. Do not exercise vigorously just before bed, if you are the type of person who is aroused by exercise. If this is the case, it may be best to exercise in the morning or afternoon (preferably an aerobic workout, like running or walking).
Not a problem. It would take a saber tooth tiger chasing me or a really great Body Combat class to get me out of the house in the evening to exercise. My energy plummets with every moment past noon. I need to strike while the iron’s hot: usually by 10am.
If possible, avoid places like this in the later hours.
Love me some jiggly action, but best to avoid it at night if possible.
11. Does your pet sleep with you? This, too, may cause arousals from either allergies or their movements in the bed. Thus, Fido and Kitty may be better off on the floor than on your sheets.
Sam is my spooning partner. She’s 15 years old and we’ve had her since she was a kitten. If she’s not purring, I can hear her heartbeat reverberating through the pillow. This is a sound I want to hear forever. Therefore, the kitty stays. Even if my beauty sleep suffers.
Sleeps with animals? Guilty as charged
Guess I’m not the only one…
But sometimes the sleeping craziness is just too fabulous…
So what am I going to do? To start off, I’m going to start Powering Down by 9pm. I’m really, truly going to give it my best shot.
Q:How is your sleep hygiene? Do you sleep enough- 7-8 hours? Have you found anything that helps you sleep? Do you feel that you can ‘catch up’ on lost sleep (experts say no, but I say ‘yes’).