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Sleep hygiene is a thing

and you may want to get on board this train

pic of a white tiger sleeping on a wood plank, set against a black background

A conversation with a friend this morning reminded me of my “sleep makeover” I conducted a few years ago. Since then, I’m more rested, my weight got to a better level, and I’m getting more stuff done.

You can start your own research here. I didn’t have that resource at the time I started looking into why I was having sleep issues, but it is a very informative website that may put you in the right direction.

Personally, I found a few areas of significance that related to my sleep habits:
media consumption
environmental/physical issues

I examined each of these areas one at a time so I could determine which strategies were helpful and which weren’t.

Diet: No caffeine. Yup, kids. I had to eliminate caffeinated coffee and tea from my diet. An occasional cup is OK but I must be prepared for the sleep disturbance it will cause. It’s difficult to break the caffeine loop when you’re not sleeping well, but the caffeine is a big contributor to the lack of sleep.

Exercise: I noticed on days of high physical expenditures, I slept the whole night through. Daily exhaustion is not OK but a bit more walking and hiking with the dog is.

Media consumption: I dropped all TV news after 9/11/2001. That coverage made me realize it is sensationalist trash. So TV news was not a contributor to my sleeplessness. Online news, on the other hand, was. Twitter, mostly. Now I avoid the news cycle and rage-roid threads, ESPECIALLY before bed.

Anxiety: This was the major factor in sleep issues. Attacking this took therapy and a lot of hard work. I’m still not 100% rid of anxiety and/or self-esteem challenges, but I’ve made amazing strides in this area. Me now vs. me 10 years ago are two different people.

All this being said, let’s not blame our inner selves or personalities too much for sleep issues. MANY are environmental. My husband’s snoring was mitigated greatly by surgery (thanks, Honey for doing that). A sleep mask and earplugs aid in my quality of sleep, because the tiniest amounts of light and sound disturb me. Also: I’m getting older – I’ve read women my age often times experience disturbed sleep.

Before you blame yourself, look hard at your environment. A TV in the bedroom, for example, has been shown to be not such a great idea. Phones before or in bed: Bad. Also ask: who do you live with? Are their habits helpful or harmful to your sleep routine? I’m a night owl naturally but my husband goes to bed early and gets up SUPER early. I had to align my sleep with his to optimize things. Sure, it isn’t an ideal solution but it is a solution. Sometimes hard compromises have to be met.

Good rest is the key to everything. If you feel like you aren’t where you want to be in life, if bad habits are killing you, if your relationships are on the outs, work is unfulfilling, etc. etc. maybe you should look at how much quality sleep you’re actually getting. Your brain can’t function well on a sleep deficit. Consider starting a sleep hygiene quest. You won’t regret it.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay