One day of research and I’m already having sleep Aha! moments: I’m not giving myself down time on a daily basis and I don’t have a nighttime ritual.
Down time? I see those words and I laugh, yet I see the connections in my daily life. The most obvious is I haven’t been reading much lately. Why? No down time. I’d like to say I simply don’t have time for down time, but the reality is, I’ve gotten into the habit of using what down time I do have to do screen-related activities like scrolling through Facebook or playing Sudoku on my iPad. There’s a double whammy there: not allowing for down time and too much screen time (which is bad for good sleep).
Likewise, I don’t take the time for a nighttime ritual. I go to bed fairly early by most standards (between 9:00 and 10:00), but I’m usually so tired by then I don’t add any pleasant activities into my basic brush my teeth and wash my face ritual. A bath seems like a lovely idea, but that’s not going to happen on a nightly basis. However, a cup of herbal tea while sitting in the comfy chair in my bedroom and reading or writing not only sounds serene, but is actually doable.
Breaking old habits and creating new ones is hard and I’m sure these habits aren’t the complete remedy for getting a good night’s sleep, but this month is about experimenting and I’m ready to try.
I’ve been out-of-town, so I’m a few days late in getting started on my May “Someday”. I spent time over the past few days thinking about what May’s “Someday” should be. Very early this morning, as I lay in bed trying to get back asleep for the third time last night, I realized I need to make this month’s “Someday” SLEEP!
I’ve never slept well. I remember prowling the house as a teenager and rising before dawn while my peers slept until noon. That pattern has not changed over the years. I fall asleep easily most nights (not last night), but then I’m wide awake at midnight, 2:00, or 3:00; often giving up completely at 4:00. Since this has been my lifelong pattern, I’ve just learned to live with it, but the fact is, I’m tired! And, according to the National Institutes of Health, “Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.” Not what I want for myself!
I’ve tried different remedies over the years: lavender (baths, sprays, and misters), over the counter sleep aids, sleep music, nature sounds, warmer room, cooler room, not eating before bed, chamomile tea before bed. Nothing has worked consistently. My husband tells me I sometimes stop breathing for short periods at night. Maybe sleep apnea contributes to my lack of sleep. I don’t know why I sleep (or don’t sleep) the way I do, but this month I’m on a quest to figure out why and what I can do about it. Stay tuned – hopefully I’ll see you in my dreams.