Are you having trouble sleeping? Do you wake up tired? Does it seem like you are putting in more hours of work every day but you just can't seem to catch up? Do you find yourself getting sleepy in the middle of the afternoon, irritable with other people if they delay you in the late afternoon, or staying awake at night and thinking about what you need to do the next day? If you are not getting enough rest, and the right kind of rest, it can slow your productivity, impair your decisions and affect your outlook. There are things that you can do to gain control.
It is admirable to be dedicated and hard working. Long hours and lack of sleep do not necessarily contribute to more productivity. On the contrary, if you exhaust your body and begin to perform below your peak capacity, then you will accomplish less in more hours of work. Sometimes a little extra time is necessary, but it is also appropriate to maintain a proper balance with the right amount of rest. Anything less and you are cheating yourself, your coworkers and the people who depend on you.
The amount of rest that we need varies by individual, by amount of activity, and sometimes by the amount of stress. Increased levels of stress can cause as much exhaustion physically, mentally and emotionally as running a short marathon. If you are experiencing a stressful period, you might be able to alleviate some of the symptoms by increasing exercise or improving the amount of sleep that you get every day.
The following are a few tips to help improve the quality of your sleep.
Indulge the Senses for Sleep.
Select some soothing music or peaceful sounds that you can play at low levels near your bed or as you go to sleep. This may be a distraction for the first few nights. However, if you continue with a consistent routine of the exact same music or sounds at the same low level and at the same time every night, by the end of two weeks you should find that you consciously ignore it. With a consistent routine, you will not pay attention to the music or sounds, but it will be a cue for your subconscious mind to begin relaxing. Think of this as the anti-alarm clock, when this sound goes off it is time for your body to drift into sleep.
Associate a special scent with your bedtime ritual. Some resorts spray lavender on bed pillows, as this scent has been associated with relaxation and rest. Lavender sprays are available at many shops. You might prefer the scent or roses or incense. Choose a scented oil or spray that is only associated with your bed or pillows. This is not the same as air fresheners or candles. You are training your body to associate specific sounds and smells with sleep.
Relax the Senses that keep you awake.
Try not to indulge in food or drink just before your devoted time for rest. If you can, adjust your schedule to finish meals, snacks or other evening eating habits at least an hour before you go to sleep. A large meal may take time to digest. Contrary to popular belief, while alcohol may make you feel relaxed or drowsy, it is not conducive to a good night's rest. If you wake up with an alcohol sweat, it is because your body is working hard while you thought that you were resting. If you are thirsty in the late evening, water is a much better choice than coffee, tea, soda, or other drinks with caffeine or high sugar content.
Many people watch television, playing video games or do email up to the minute that they fall asleep. These lights are mental stimulation and a cue to stay awake. Don't watch TV in bed. Your bed should be reserved for two things, one purpose is sleeping, the other is not watching television. Give your eyes and your mind a rest. If you do watch something, try to pick something that helps you laugh and relax. If watching news makes you irritated, then turn on something else. If playing a game gets your adrenaline pumping, do it earlier in the evening and find something else to do that relaxes you before you go to bed.
Find some time to exercise during the day, do something that helps your blood circulation. This may be going for a walk after dinner, or visiting the gym during the day. If your body is at rest all day, then it may be more difficult to distinguish the time for your body to completely rest and sleep. Sitting in a car, behind a desk or on the couch may seem mentally stimulating but it does very little for the rest of your muscle groups. Treat the rest of your body to something active at some time during the day.
Finally, be consistent and develop your personal ritual for going to sleep. There may be exceptions that occur from time to time, but try to establish a personal commitment for your time to unwind and your time to go to sleep. Go to bed at your defined time, even if you do not yet feel tired, and even if there is undone work that can wait until the next day. You will be more fresh the next day, more prepared to take on your challenges, and more mentally alert.
If all of this seems like common sense, then it should also seem relatively simple and easy to do. The hardest part for many people who struggle with getting a good night sleep is that they cheat themselves from the personal ritual. Do this for yourself. Get good sleep consistently and it will have a positive affect on your interaction with others. Good sleep can change your physical, mental and emotional state.
This is not medical advice. It is a reminder of little things that you can do to improve the quality of your own life. If you experience severe, constant or chronic fatigue, please consult a physician.
According to a survey of 1,003 American Women ages 18 to 64, conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, more than half of the women surveyed said sleep is the first thing that they sacrifice, followed by exercise and time with family or friends. Almost two-thirds of women reported they have trouble sleeping at least a few nights every week. Forty-six percent said they have trouble sleeping every night. Most women get fewer than the recommended eight hours of sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation survey also revealed that a higher percentage of women experience sleep deprivation or disruptions. Twenty-four percent of women experience insomnia, restless legs syndrome or apnea as compared to only nineteen percent of men. Sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke and irregular heartbeat. With apnea, the airway becomes relaxed and collapsible during sleep, particularly in overweight individuals. When the airway closes, breathing stops, oxygen levels drop, heart rate and adrenaline levels surge until the individual awakens gasping for breath. If breathing, depression, weight or stress is keeping you awake at night, consider changing your behavior. If conditions persist, consult a physician.
Side effects of a good nights rest may include excess energy, a pleasant personality, cheery demeanor, a heightened sense of confidence, enlarged smiles, an overwhelming desire for increased productivity, and more frequent visits by friends and family. Good moods and excessive laughter can be contagious.
Thanks for the words of wisdom. Things like essential oils, soft music, a bath before bed, chamomile tea, complete darkness, and soft sheets all make me very receptive to sleep (and of course, I always try not to drink or eat right before going to sleep).