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!
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!
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…
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!
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
germaphobeclean 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,