Want More Sleep? Snooze is Not the Answer!

Welcome to the Guinea Pig Diaries!  Every month I’ll be covering a different topic, trying new things, experimenting!  And this month, you can call me Rip Van Witkins as I tackle the study of SLEEP!

Rip Van Winkle – The Man Who Slept for 20 Years – Jealous?
(Photo courtesy Creative Commons – LI Refugee)

When I started perusing through the National Sleep Foundation‘s website I was amazed at how much they had on Women and Sleep.  The average number of hours we’re supposed to sleep is between 7 and 9, however most women average just a little over 6.

And guess what ladies?  Women are more likely to have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and experiencing daytime sleepiness than men.

Oh goody gumdrops!  Now I know why I’m so plucky in the morning!

(Photo courtesy Creative Commons – Mrs Inman)

The causes for poor sleep can be any number of things:  Insomnia, sleep apnea, pain from migraines and tension headaches, restless leg syndrome, shift work hours, and even nocturnal eating disorders.

It also doesn’t help that all women have one of these inside their heads…

(Photo courtesy Creative Commons – mere.mortal)

Often times we think we can “cheat” sleep and function just fine, or catch up on all of our lost sleep over the weekend while getting precious little during the work week.  Regular sleep is important because that’s where our bodies achieve homeostasis.  During sleep, our breathing slows and our muscles relax.  Increased blood flow to the muscles during this relaxation is what allows tissue growth and repair.  We also release the cortisol hormone, whose job among other things, is to alleviate allergies, boost the metabolism, and help relieve pain so we can wake up energized.

Where is this cortisol you speak of?  Give it to me!

(Photo courtesy of Creative Commons – Mrs Inman)

Most of us know what an ideal sleep environment is supposed to be.  Dark room, no cell phone or alarm clock lights facing the bed, noise should be at a minimum, the temperature on the cooler side.  Blah, Blah, zzzzzzzz…

Whoops, dozed off for a minute there!  What I was saying is that we know what we’re supposed to do to help us sleep, but not many of us take the time to actually assist ourselves in that process.  Starting TODAY I invite you to join me and do a sleep study!

The sleep study month can be whatever you want it to be. 

Make small changes or large ones, but get some SLEEP! 

Here are some sleep tips to start with!

  • Going to Bed 2 Hours Earlier on Weeknights – I’m typically up until midnight or later every night.  Going to bed by 10pm is going to be tricky, but by giving myself a bedtime, I plan my night differently.  I get dinner, work on what I need to and then save my “wind down” activities like watching TV or reading for the end of the night.
  • Create a Bedtime Routine – Along with having a set bedtime, the actions you do right before bed are just as important.  Watching TV or playing games on your phone can be a fun way to unwind, but they decrease your melatonin making ability, a natural antioxidant in your body.  I’ve always been a germaphobe clean freak so my routine before bed involves my Clarisonic, flossing, mouthwash, moisturizer, vitamins, and chapstick!  Might sound basic, but doing these repetitive behaviors sends my body the message that bedtime is soon.
  • Get Plenty of Light During the Day – Just like plants, we need sunlight during the day and darkness at night.  The daylight hours help keep you energized, and then you’re more likely to fall asleep while its dark.  I’m going to try to take a short walk outside each day, sit by the window, and keep using the heat lamp in the bathroom!
  • Don’t Be the Princess and the Pea – I suffer from spinal subluxation in my upper neck so the search for a pillow that’s comfortable is unending.  I’ve tried memory foam and skipping the pillow altogether.  What’s worked best for me is an orthopedic pillow that is scooped in the middle to cradle my head while keeping my neck aligned.  If you suffer from neck or back pain, make sure you invest in the right pillow or mattress to get the best sleep possible.  Studies show people who tested a mattress for 15 minutes before purchasing one were happiest with their decision.
  • Make Bedtime Relaxing – Easier said than done, right?  If you’re like me, the minute you lie still, everything you could have and should have done that day is going to flood your brain!  Practice relaxation tips like deep breathing, tensing your muscles and relaxing them, and visualizing a peaceful place.

Are you in or are you out? Wanna get some more Zzz’s?  

  What keeps you awake at night?  What helps you fall asleep?  If it’s reading my posts, please keep the drool to a minimum. 

Snoozes and Pillow Fluffs,

Jess

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22 responses

  1. I’ve been exercising good sleep hygiene for a while now. No computers or electronics in the Room– this included ditching the Kindle and other e-devices! And I use a sleep mask nd ear plugs because *somebody* snores. But I’m feeling much more rested. Good luck with your study!

    1. I like using a sleep mask too. It really helps even if *someone* makes fun of me!

  2. I take a warm bath on most nights. I know TV isn’t supposed to be good, but I put on a series I’ve seen a million times, mute it, dim the screen brightness, and then start the TV timer. I typically fall asleep within 10 minutes. 🙂

    1. Yep. I do that too. I grew up on a busy street so traffic noises are soothing. I’m a big fan of the TV sleep timer now.

      And I wish I could take baths but we only have a shower. 😦

  3. I’ve often thought it would be great to “sleep” for 20 years…. one would wake up thin and rested!!

    1. I am all for human hibernation. Let’s start a petition!

  4. Coleen, we do the same thing! We put on a movie or show that we’ve seen and fall asleep to that. I’ve seen the Sorcerer’s Stone so much that I’m out before Harry even gets his letter.

    1. Lol. Our go to is sadly something like Euro Trip…one of the first DVDs I bought in college.

  5. I have this weird internal alarm clock. It doesn’t matter when I go to sleep, I’m waking up at six – bright eyed and bushy tailed without any hope of going back to sleep. And it doesn’t matter what time zone I’m in either. On my last trip, the day started in Dallas, but went to bed in Miami – waking up at six! On the ship we went through several time zones, but each morning, six a.m. found me staring at the clock. I hate it!!

    1. Well I can’t seem to ever get up when I want to so I am so jealous!

  6. I’m one of the fortunate ones who rarely has trouble sleeping. I do tend to follow the same routine before bed: go upstairs at a reasonable hour, chat with my fiance for a bit, play a few rounds of Words WIth Friends, read for awhile, eat a footlong salami sandwich from Subway, turn out the lights, and go to sleep. It works for me!

    1. Do you double as George Costanza in an alternate universe?

      1. Nope, just Clark Griswold. Which means I don’t really eat a footlong sub before bedtime, but I am hard at work on a non-nutritive cereal varnish.

  7. I also turn the tv on to a movie, turn the volume down low and set the timer for 20 minutes. I usually never know it has shut off. The slight noise quiets the noises in my brain.

    1. Dito!!! I’m with you in that the TV noise drowns out the voices in my head! LOL

  8. This was great! In terms of kids, it’s my opinion (not without evidence) that many of the attention problems kids face in school are related to sleep deprivation. As a whole society, we don’t sleep enough.

    Speaking of which, children are my main problem in getting a good night’s sleep. I don’t fall asleep well until I know my sons are tucked in for the night–yes, even now that they are teens!

    I have also learned that I cannot drink caffeinated drinks after supper, I need wind-down time (my fave is reading), and being warm is an imperative for me to fall asleep quickly. Oh, and studies show that having sex helps you sleep better. Really.

    1. Oh man, my mom was so different after having 4 kids. I was an “Oops” baby and by the time I was a teen, I’m convinced she either a.) didn’t care or b.) turned deaf. She was always fast asleep before I got home…and I knew which steps to skip on the way to my room. 😀

  9. I was just talking to someone about weird sleep cycles. I read somewhere that Alexander Graham Bell only got 4-5 hours a night, and still felt like he was wasting time. Oddly, I can drink coffee and go right to ZZZ…..have a hard time napping during the day though.

    1. Aaargh! I’m so jealous! I once saw a guy sleeping (and balancing for that matter) on a metal railing against the wall at Six Flags Great America! I thought how in the heck does he DO that?!!!

      1. Oh wow, well that I cannot do. But that sounds really useful

  10. […] month we’re talking about SLEEP!  Wondering about setting a better sleep routine, check out Snooze is Not the Answer.  Got a partner who snores?  Go read It Might Get […]

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