Zzz… Oh! Hi, sorry, geezzz… I must have dozed off. I shouldn’t be surprised, since today I’m writing to you from my very newly decorated bedroom. I’m underneath my new 300-thread count organic cotton sheets, with my vegan-friendly pillows and duvet tucked in all around me. I’ve painted my walls a calm, robins-egg blue, and I have anointed my pillow cases with lavender oil. Soft music is playing in the background. I am peaceful… serene… zzz…
Hell-ooo! Sorry about that, again. Boy do I feel sheepish. And I don’t even have to count them! That’s right, I have created the perfect environment conducive to sleeping. It was necessary, since, like at least 40 million Americans, I had one of a noted 70 sleep disorders.
According to the National Sleep Foundation – yes, it’s enough of a problem to have this kind of a foundation – millions of us are not sleeping enough. Lack of sleep can cause all kinds of problems, from issues related to the brain, nervous, cardiovascular and immune systems. For me, that means I can’t remember much, can’t hold onto my personal belongings without dropping them, get tired a lot, and feel sick. Actually, I feel like a truck has hit me. And I recently noticed my fine-lines are more pronounced without enough sleep. That was my final call to action.
For many people, lack of sleep can cause insomnia (me, again), accidents (road rage!), hypertension and elevated cardiovascular risks (stroke), emotional problems (depression, bipolar disorder), and obesity. In some crazy cases, lack of sleep can even lead to alcohol and drug abuse.
Ok, it’s pretty clear that most of us need way more sleep. I recently read that most humans are built to stay awake for 16 hours, which leaves 8 hours for sleeping. I need more like 9.5, and so does my mom. It’s genetic (yeah folks, look that one up!), and I for sure don’t get that much.
So how to get more sleep? Well for most of us, sleeplessness has nothing to do with not having enough time to sleep. It has to do with what’s keeping us up: stimulation from television, computers, music, food, and of course work. Anything that stresses our nervous system will keep us alert, and we need to seriously chillout.
- First, decide on a consistent time to call it a night. Establishing a regular bedtime hour will help signal the body into gearing down.
- Next, shut the books early. Unless you’re on a close deadline, working into the night will only burn you out in the long-run. That goes for physical and mental work, too. And turn off that computer! Flickering screen = googly-eyes. Yow!
- Keep stimulating activities out of the bedroom. We spend more time sleeping in bed than almost anywhere else – and that’s all it should be used for! Well almost, of course. Excepting activities involving
a certain bedside manner. Ahem.
- Create a sacred, silent space with your bedroom. Invest a little in the room most used in your house: paint the walls in light, gentle colors (skip the reds and blacks), choose soft materials for the bed (preferably organic), and use easy lighting. Get that tv outta there! And keep your space clean, and clutter-free. Think of your space as a reflection of your inner world: clutter on the outside contributes to a cluttered mind – and sleeplessness.
- Try some relaxation techniques: meditating, warm bathing and gentle exercise like yoga will all coax baby to bed.
- A gentle supplement can help: try Natural Sleep Essentials with jubjube and fleece flower.
- Finally, go to the spa! Crack open the essential oils (lavender and chamomile are super relaxing) and add a few drops to a bath or shower. Sip a soothing drink like tea of chamomile, which will help you to unwind. Now I did say sip to unwind – I didn’t say reach for the whiskey! While some may try alcohol to relax and get drowsy, alcohol actually works to stimulate. It will wake you up mid-night, guaranteed! Skip it.
I wonder now if getting enough sleep could actually solve many of our societal issues? If so many millions of Americans are suffering from sleep depravation, maybe that’s why our culture seems to be so aggressive and quick to anger. Sounds like an epidemic to me!
Hmmm… I think I’ll put that one to bed and take it back out tomorrow. Good night…