How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Quality Sleep Each Right Here and Now
Sleep has been a struggle for me most of my life so I am going to take a deep dive into the topic today to share what I learn. I know sleep helps us recover from the physical exertions of the day, mentally process information, and build our resistance to disease. Sometimes though, it is easier said then done. I think the worst it ever was for me was when my kids were little. They both wanted to be in the bed, my daughter slept pretty harmoniously through the night (after 6 months because she was colicky). My son must of thought he was a ninja in his dreams or something because he would constantly be spinning around. Sometimes my wife and I would wake up via a kick to the face, which now of course is funny, but back then, not so much. The sleep deprivation I experienced during my daughter’s first six months really hurt my overall functionality at work and ability to remain calm during the long bouts of crying and screaming. At one point, I learned I unconsciously resorted to sleeping standing up against the wall while holding her, as this is the only way she would stop crying. Eventually, we found a swing that was really fast that soothed her and finally allowed us to get some halfway normal sleep, but it was a real struggle. If I had free time, it was no longer golf, skiing, or fishing, it was extra sleep time. That brings me to my first tip:
Tip #1 – If You Have Kids, Have a Good Support Network!
As you can tell, I can speak with authority on this subject. Try to live close to family during these early years if at all possible, or close friends who enjoy being around your child when you need a break. We had a few friends in the area near where we lived, but it was not nearly enough to keep us sane during difficult times. I will say though that once we stopped trying to force our daughter to stay in the crib, and allowed her to sleep with us, it did help. My son was basically luggage, he would fall asleep in the car seat better than anywhere else, which we were very thankful for, but be prepared for a rough start with any child and major shocks to your sleep schedule/routines. Having a great support network will help a lot with this.
Tip #2 – Dim the lights!
Start dimming the lights in your house an hour or so before bed. For example: cut down the number of lights on by a factor of 50% every half hour. According to Michigan Medicine, cutting down the amount of light helps melatonin, a chemical that signals our brains and body it is time to sleep, that is indeed time to sleep. Michigan Medicine also recommends cutting down the amount of blue light in the room as well as LED lights as these suppress melatonin and make it more difficult to sleep. Keeping the room you are sleeping in as dark as possible also helps stimulate melatonin.
Tip #3 – Pencil in 15 Minutes to Read!
Reading something that is not social media or news preferably (these generate stress/emotional responses at times), perhaps a classic novel or something of that nature, can help you in a variety of ways. Based on the popular and fairly reliable website WebMD, there are many benefits to reading before bed, while lying in bed. Reading can take you outside yourself which for one, helps build your capacity for empathy, but it also allows you to work some of your residual mental energy out so that you can sleep. You may be stressed abut a variety of things, reading Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, or even Shakespeare, takes you out of those recurring moments so that you can let go of those things, even if it is only for a short while. WebMD also states that reading reduces stress up to 68%, which is better than drinking tea or listening to music. Paper books would be best, but I have found that reading E-Books with the dark screen option sends me off into dreamland just as well.
Additional Resources: Top 10 Websites for Researching Better Sleep Habits – Curated with the help of Chat GPT
- National Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org): A comprehensive resource with articles, tips, and guides for better sleep.
- Sleep.org (www.sleep.org): Provides information on various sleep topics, including sleep disorders, healthy sleep habits, and tips for better sleep.
- Mayo Clinic – Healthy Sleep (www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379): Offers expert advice on sleep hygiene, sleep disorders, and strategies for improving sleep quality.
- WebMD – Sleep Disorders Center (www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/default.htm): Provides in-depth articles on sleep disorders, tips for better sleep, and information on treatments and therapies.
- Sleep Education (www.sleepeducation.org): A website created by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) that offers resources and educational materials on sleep health and disorders.
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke – Sleep Disorders Information (www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Sleep-Disorders-Information-Page): Contains information on various sleep disorders, their symptoms, and treatment options.
- HelpGuide – Sleep Disorders (www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep-disorders/sleep-disorders-and-sleeping-problems.htm): Provides articles and practical tips for addressing sleep disorders and improving sleep quality.
- Psychology Today – Sleep (www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/sleep): Features articles from sleep experts, covering topics such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and sleep hygiene.
- Sleep Junkies (www.sleepjunkies.com): Offers a mix of informative articles, interviews, and reviews related to sleep science, sleep health, and sleep technology.
- Sleepio (www.sleepio.com): A digital platform that provides evidence-based programs and tools to help individuals improve their sleep patterns and overcome insomnia.
Please note that while these websites can provide valuable information and guidance, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment if you have specific sleep concerns or disorders.
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