Wednesday already?! End of August?! Summer is FLYING by!
If you’re like me, your weekdays and weekends are crammed full of every activity under the sun. My weekdays are filled with swim team, work, classes, and the occasional eating and sleeping; even less on the sleeping because I love to eat!
Although eating, exercise, and staying busy are great things, so is sleep. I have had a personal struggle with insomnia for many years, and it does concern me with the scary side effects of only getting a few hours per night. Anyone who has had a late night with friends, a newborn baby, a sick child, or an excess of stress that keeps them awake at night knows that awful, groggy feeling the next day, like a ‘fog’ that clouds the brain. Without an appropriate amount of sleep, there are serious health-related concerns that can develop.
I won’t write a novel about the scary side effects of sleep deprivation because, let’s be real, that is my life in a nutshell. I am, however, motivated to change when it comes to my health, realizing what could be coming to me if I do not make changes now.
Some of the side effects that I have experienced and that are listed in many articles regarding sleep deprivation include: forgetfulness, impaired attention and concentration, impaired judgment, and getting sick more frequently. On a more serious note, after an extended period of time, a lack of sleep can increase a person’s risk of heart disease, irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and premature death. Yikes. Seeing a list such as this should be enough to shock you, and make you want to change.
After seeing my doctor for the first time for my insomnia, we made a game plan for a pre-bed routine. I have made changes in the last few years, but I always stick with my routine night after night, and I can say it has helped tremendously. For me, I always shower, brush my teeth, and read before bed. I make sure to turn the sound off my phone and put it face down so I don’t see any blinking lights. I also wake up within the same 30-minute window every morning, even on the weekends, which is usually beyond my control because of my ‘internal clock’ (hey, I get my best grocery shopping done at 5a on the weekends! J).
Some other tips I have read include avoiding caffeine entirely, or after a certain point in the day; using soft music or guided imagery/meditation; adding exercise into your routine (but being mindful of the time so it doesn’t keep you racing all night); and using ‘natural’ remedies such a warm milk or valerian root. A cool, dark bedroom will allow the body to ease into sleep easier than a warm atmosphere.
It may take a few days or a week to find something that works for you, but making an effort in the right direction is better than nothing. Your M.D. can provide you with information regarding medications that may help you get shut-eye and other suggestions to help you overcome this ailment also!
Biggest thing? Try something new or ask for help. Make the effort to change and find a solution that works for you. It took time for me to find a routine that worked for me, and I’m glad I tried. Some nights are better than others, regardless, there are now more good nights that make for even better days.
Until next time peeps!