Thursday, May 22, 2008

Got sleep?

It’s no secret that getting sleep is a good thing, and the impacts of not getting enough are huge. It’s also not a secret that many people don’t get enough sleep, especially working moms. Although it’s one of the most important ingredients to living a happy and healthy life, it often falls to the bottom of the list when you are a busy parent juggling the complexities of both the personal and professional areas of your life.

On a personal note, last night I had a crappy night of sleep. I had trouble falling asleep, I had trouble staying asleep, and when I was asleep my brain was still going a mile-a-minute, which made me wish I wasn’t asleep. So, while I laid in bed this morning wishing that I felt a bit better rested and wondering how I was going to get through the day without snapping someone’s head off, I made a mental note of my plan for tonight based on what I know has worked for me in the past.
  1. Commit to being in bed by 9:30 p.m. and light off by 10:00 p.m. NO MATTER WHAT! This was my intention last night, but darn that laundry needed to be folded and then I got sucked into American Idol (which I never watch).
  2. Turn off the computer and stop all things work related at least one hour before going to bed (which means 8:30 p.m.). You know how it goes, you plan to do “just one more thing” for work and then that turns into that and then you remember that and the next thing you know you’ve spent two hours on the computer instead of the thirty minutes you intended to just finish a small project. Last night for me it was getting caught up in figuring out how to set up a feed subscription for my blog (Note: which you can now do on the right!). It was not surprise that my dreams where about RSS feeds and my half-awake-half-asleep thoughts were in trying to figure it all out. My brain is working on overtime enough when I am awake, I don’t need it trying to work when I am asleep.
  3. Drink a warm (not hot) cup of milk thirty minutes before bedtime (which means 9:00 p.m.). Note to self: this does not mean a cup of warm milk with chocolate in it and whipped cream on top, which is what I had last night.
  4. Exercise in the morning, which improves my sleep by the end of the day.
  5. Allow for at least twenty minutes of no-brainer reading before turning out the light (which means 9:40 p.m.). I often use this time to read a coaching, professional development or self-help book for work purposes. The problem with this is that my brain then starts swirling with ideas and it’s hard to calm it down. On the other hand, when I pick up a no-brainer book or magazine, I find that I can barely keep my eyes open ten minutes later.
  6. Crack window to allow for cool fresh air in the room, which always helps with my sleep.
  7. Spend a few minutes with the light out, my head on the pillow, and my eyes shut to visualize how I want to feel the next day (i.e. healthy, happy, present, energetic, focused, etc.). For I have come to learn that regardless of what my sleep looks like from night to night, the point of my desire for good sleep is to feel a certain way. Sometimes I can feel this way with a night that hasn’t gone so great. And other times I can sleep through the entire night soundly, and wake up feeling like I’ve been hit by a bus.
As a parent you know that nights can sometimes be unpredictable. Creating (and sticking to) a sleep plan for yourself that supports you in feeling the way you want to feel during the day is a valuable exercise. But that’s only one piece of the equation. If you haven’t helped your child(ren) learn healthy sleep habits, it will be challenging for you to stick to yours.

I’ll get on my “Children Need Healthy Sleep Habits” soapbox in the next post. Until then, I dare you to put a plan in writing that will help you get more and better sleep. Try it for two weeks straight and let me know how you feel!

If you’re interested in a blog all about sleep, check out Snoozester. It's got some great links to recent and relevant articles and studies around adult and child sleep.

No comments: