Updated: Nov 8, 2021
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in a doctor’s book – An Irish Proverb
My love of sleep started at an early age with my daily after school naps. In high school, a normal day would entail coming home and grabbing a quick snack and nap. They varied in length from a quick, less than 30-minute nap, to being woken-up right before dinner. Following a good nap, I was able to stay up late, do my homework, watch TV, and talk on the phone. Yup, I said talk on the phone as in landline phone…no texting, snapchatting, or facetiming, as cell phones were not a thing then (but we did have call-waiting!). My sleep pattern in high school followed by my college years stayed consistent: not enough sleep at night followed by long naps after classes.
During my earlier years, I chose to stay up late for reasons stated above, plus there was the added layer of FOMO (fear of missing out). Everyone else is up late, then I should be. Working full-time, getting married and having kids, naps became infrequent, unless you count falling asleep reading a bedtime story with your kids, waking-up a few hours later and going to bed. With long naps off the table, I found quick, power-like naps restorative, providing me with increased energy to focus as well as mood-balancing. Setting my alarm for a 10-minute snooze in the afternoon can completely change my afternoon productivity, attitude, and outlook, giving me enough zing to get through the remainder of the day.
Today, a good night’s sleep is a top priority in my health journey. Sleep impacts every part of my life. If I’m well-rested, I’m focused, productive, content; which is then reflective on my interactions with family, colleagues and community. I’ve worked at making our bedroom warm, inviting and conducive to a good night’s sleep from the color of the walls, to comfortable bedding and lighting along with tweaking my routines leading to sleep over the years and what I find works for me, includes the following:
Having my last meal or snack at least two to three hours prior to bedtime;
Getting ready for bed around the same time every night (weekends do vary; however, I try to be consistent);
A window cracked during cooler months providing some fresh air, and
Lights off at same time every night.
Getting ready for bed, includes the following:
A cup of hot decaffeinated tea (sleepy time tea or any herbal tea) in the early evening (7:00 to 8:00). One of my seasonal favorites is Peppermint Bark by Bigelow. My kids also enjoy this ritual (See my first blog Coffee & Me).
Warm shower followed by the usual brushing teeth; face serum, moisturizer (the weapons to battle age and gravity);
Setting an alarm. And yes, I use my phone, which may not be the best given the temptation to scroll through emails, and social media; however, I prefer to read. I turn on do not disturb and
Read – my night time reading is strictly fiction. All non-fiction books are saved for my morning routine.
There are nights where sleep doesn’t come easy whether it be stressors from the day, eating dinner late or my mind and body aren’t ready, so I employ a couple of strategies:
Meditate – I use the Calm app for either a sleep meditation or bedtime story. Listening to Matthew McConaughey is a nice way to drift off to sleep:) Other meditative strategies, include a simple body scan gently relaxing each part of your body and welcoming sleep through this mind-body connection; or
My other strategy is my sleep playlist of five-songs featuring Adele. As I’m drifting off to sleep, I am Adele!