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,
Some weeks you just wish for a mulligan.
I had hoped by this week I’d be reporting in fabulous word counts thanks to Fast Draft and a holiday week where I was determined to hang with #teamsprinty all afternoon!
Would you even believe me if I told you about the week I had? First day off I go and give myself food poisoning by eating a.) bad tomatoes and/or b.) bad cheese that was in my fridge since before I left for vacation. Yah, the smart thing would have been to toss that, but we still haven’t gone grocery shopping. I’m sort of making periodic mini trips and eating a lot of tacos right now… #headdesk
So on my second day off, you’d think I’d take it easy. I went to the coffee shop and started working on my WIP. I did, I wrote a few paragraphs, and then I got hungry. And I ordered a sandwhich with creamy cheese on it. Stupid, stupid, stupid! I immediately felt sick again!
Then it was back to work where I’ve put in extra hours regularly for the last 2 weeks. But saturday was a new record. We were Christmas-like busy and had an epic number of life events/sick calls. It was crazy – peoples parents were admitted to hospitals, others daughters were delivering a baby, someone scratched their cornea, others played phone tag about coming in, and some just didn’t show. To say I managed a skeleton crew is an understatement! I worked two hours myself in fine jewelry and then a half hour in juniors, and before I left closed half the department store’s registers to where I was starting to count cross-eyed!
I turned right around to return to work on Sunday and Monday leading new hire training, which I love doing, but was exhausted from all the talking and running around.
So when Tuesday rolled around, I didn’t work on writing. I didn’t wake up early or exercise. I slept in. I read Harry Potter, which has been my wonderful, magical escape each night before bed! I ate another taco and feasted on dark chocolate while watching reruns of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. It felt wonderful.
But I’m still motivated by you ROWers to make changes. Elizabeth Anne Mitchell in particular gave me a good boot with her ROW update last week to make small changes for a bigger impact. I’m taking her advice this week and setting aside a half hour each day to write.
It’s much easier to fix a page with words on it than a blank one!
A plus side is that I visited a lot of blogs this week! I loved reading the innovative and inspiring posts you’ve all written. Below are my recent faves about writing, new book launches you should know about, and my favorite fun reads!
And Don’t Forget: I’m hosting a book giveaway of 3 e-book copies of Timothy McKinney’s The Power of Happiness. You can still enter to win by leaving a comment here before Sunday, September 16th at 5pm.
Posts on Writing:
One of my favorite posts EVER by the amazing and hilarious Jenny Hansen is 3Writer’s Commandments and Avoiding the Dreaded ‘S’ Word. Hear first hand how Jenny learned to never quit, write her story her way, and finish what she started. Sounds like useful advice right? So, READ IT! She also brings you fantastic links to NYTBS authors’ stories and gives props to the peeps that helped her along her journey. Love this post. Love that woman!
Did you all get to read fellow ROWer, Julie Glover’s, post about writing this week? I’m Awesome! I’m Awful! Epiphanies While Editing and ROW80. We have so ALL BEEN THERE!
I swear I’ve said this before, but if you’re NOT following August McLaughlin’s blog, you’re ridiculous! She is a favorite blogger of mine and has some of the most well written, introspective, thought provoking posts out there on real stuff! Check out her recent post, Carving Out Alone Time: 10 Tips for Creative Artists.
Jody Hedlund asked the question What to Do When People Don’t Get Your Story? Experiencing first hand and sharing a friend’s tale, Hedlund gives you the best of both critique acceptance and staying professional.
Looking for inspiration on the upcoming ROW week? Rachel Funk Heller blogged about our fear of failure and our fear of success. She’s making some changes in her life, and inspired me to do the same. Gr8ful4: Mediocrity, Fear, and Why I’m Giving Up Sugar.
New Book Releases You Have to Check Out:
As it is now Football Season, what better way to get in the mood with a little YA mystery set on a football field? Tiffany A. White just self published her first novel, Football Sweetheart, and it’s soooo in my queue to read this fall!
Aimee Freeman is looking forward to the start of her senior year. She knows her best friend Ella has been keeping secrets from her all summer long, but with football season right around the corner, the student trainer decides not to worry about it—they’ll have plenty of time to catch up on the field.
Then Ella goes missing, and Aimee realizes those secrets might be the key to finding her. As the case unfolds, Aimee discovers more than one person may have wanted to harm Ella. Was it Ella’s current boyfriend, a social outcast the entire city seems intent on blaming for her disappearance? Or her ex-boyfriend, the beloved star quarterback who has harassed Ella since their breakup? The list of potential suspects continues to grow after Aimee reads Ella’s journal, but she must first break her best friend’s secret code to reveal their identities.
Unbeknownst to Aimee, her investigation has not gone unnoticed. Ella’s abductor is watching and waiting. Will he decide Aimee needs to be silenced—making her the next target?
Nothing can explain to Aydan Fulbert how she survived the savage attack in the woods. Why her left eye, instead of being blinded by the injuries she’d sustained, had simply turned a shocking shade of silver. And nothing can explain the fact that she can hear the Stranger speaking in her mind – or that she can answer him back without using her mouth.
Nothing can explain it – unless he’s telling the truth.
Nothing can explain the things the Stranger knows about her – things that she, until just a few hours ago, hadn’t known herself: that she’d healed faster from her injuries than was humanly possible. That the cruel family she’d been raised by isn’t biologically hers. That her stepfather is now hell-bent on bringing her to his own form of justice for a crime she didn’t commit.
Nothing can explain it – unless he’s telling the truth.
Nothing can explain why she so easily agreed to go with the Stranger. Why she didn’t find the notion of another world ludicrous and impossible. Why she didn’t cut and run the minute he explained where he wanted to take her.
Nothing can explain it – unless she believes he’s telling the truth.
Aydan knows she’s being intentionally naive. She knows her decision to follow the Stranger is at best, reckless. At worst, deadly.
…unless he’s telling the truth.
And if you’re craving even more witchy goodness, do seek out Fabio Bueno’s Wicked Sense. The paranormal romance that just might get famed by the Redhots! What say you, Fabio? Be our Valentine?
Witches inhabit our world, organized in covens and hiding behind a shroud of secrecy—the Veil.
Skye’s London coven sends her to Seattle’s Greenwood High to find the Singularity, an unusually gifted witch who may break the Veil and trigger a dangerous new era of witch-hunting. Things get complicated when Skye meets a charming new classmate, Drake. Skye’s job becomes even trickier when she clashes with Jane, an intimidating rival witch.
Drake falls for the mysterious Skye, but odd accidents, potion mix-ups, and the occasional brush with death kind of get in the way of romance. Once he discovers Skye is a witch, he goes to war for her, even though his only weapons are a nice set of abs and a sharp sense of humor.
Fighting off wicked Jane and the other dark forces hell-bent on seizing the Singularity’s immense power, Skye and Drake will risk everything to save the covens.
Going on a date has never been harder.
Just for Fun:
What was your first kiss like? Myndi Shafer tells the tale of her awkward adolescence in First Kiss, and it’s a good one! Elements of jealousy, secrets, saliva, and shame all make their way in!
Fans of Ellie Ann Soderstrom’s Tall Tale Tuesdays will love this gorgeous photo blog she shared on What I Did Last Summer.
Adam at Roof Beam Reader is hosting an LGBT Readathon in honor of LGBT Awareness Month! The Literary Others: An LGBT Reading Event This event is hosted with only positive, and accepting participants please! He’s put together an awesome list of book ideas both written by LGBT authors and books with their characters or themes LGBT related. Thanks Adam!
My lovely literature friend, Jillian, at A Room of One’s Own, turned me onto the Harry Potter Readathon and is loving the series too. She had a fun conversation with a coworker over the question What is Your Favorite Book? Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
We’re back live at Jess Witkins’ Happiness Project to proudly report that Jess did in fact have a holiday! It was short and sweet, much like her new haircut, but filled with family and fun.
The festivities began at the end of the 10 hour workday of pure, extreme shopping madness. I ran around the store, wrapped several presents, put some shoe boxes away, worked in fine jewelry for awhile and denied one man a $2000 price adjustment on a 1/2 carat diamond necklace cause he saw a sign for a 1/4 carat one for less. Yah, I’m just mean like that.
All was improved when the night began as date night!
Joe and I went out for italian at Eduardo’s and got the sausage, prosciutto, and goat cheese pizza. It was yummy. We were nice and full as we headed downtown to Riverside Park and walked the Rotary Lights. The Rotary Lights are a BIG deal in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Since 1995, the Rotary Club has partnered with roughly 100 some volunteer organizations to decorate Riverside Park with Christmas lights and displays. Each group hosts a Christmas tree along the park’s sidewalk, plus all the real trees get lights and there’s lots of action-packed and twinkling set ups, including a totally galactic looking light tunnel you can drive through, lights synched up to music, and LIVE reindeer outside Santa’s house. It’s a beautiful tradition and Joe and I to go each winter. Admission is just a bag of canned goods and food items for our town’s food pantry! You can drive or walk through the lights and this was our third time going.
Here are some of the shots I took on our walk. *Note the first two shots are of the same spot. It’s where the lights change to music.
Saturday morning was Christmas Eve and we drove to home to my parents to celebrate. We went to church, then to my brother’s for dinner and present opening. I got many a book title on my ‘to read’ list which was wonderful! Now the tough decision is which one to start first? Anyone else having that problem?
The best part of our Christmas was later in the evening when somehow, with little effort, my honeybee Joe (a musician) picked up a guitar and managed to get my entire family to form a band and choir singing what began as Christmas songs, then Manamana, and then several Beatles songs. He had the guitar, and we scrounged up some djembes, maracas, claves, and a tambourine (my given instrument!). If you’re not familiar with Manamana, here’s a fun video to enlighten you:
Now, you should know, my family doesn’t normally sing outside of church. I don’t remember us gathering together to sing carols on our own, yet everybody joined in! Not just joined, we rocked out!
So that was my Christmas party. How was yours? What have you been up to while I went on my blog hiatus? Don’t forget to tune in Friday for another Milestone Party/New Year’s Bash with the Life List Club, the HOTTEST resolution club in town. Bring your glow sticks and wear sequins, baby, it’s gonna be a party! And we’ve got prizes to giveaway!!! I know, the presents just won’t stop!
*So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu*