Saturday, July 4, 2015

How to stop procrastinating and get to sleep already

Do you get to bed at a reasonable (for you) hour? Do you wash your face and floss your teeth before tucking yourself into bed? Do you make your room as dark as possible and hide your phone in another room? Yes? Then you're my sleep hero.

As I mentioned in my last post, one of my goals for the year to get better at sleeping. Feeling dead exhausted all of the days was one of the first signs for me that something was wrong with my body. I would sleep at night and wake up feeling like I'd run a marathon. I would fall asleep sitting up (I still do). And when things are at their most rotten for me physically, it's all I can do to not to nap three times in one day. Part of this comes from my depression, some from fibromyalgia, and some from having two young kids, working part-time, and going to midwifery school. It's not a recipe for feeling rested.

But I'm not asking for miracles here.

In related news: why I've chosen to become a midwife if I'm so interested in feeling rested? Fair enough, it isn't a career path known for its ample opportunities to sleep. As a student midwife I was often up for twenty four hours before signing off to get some rest, but it wasn't so much the all-nighters that were hard, but the more regular schedule of getting only a little rest at a time. Having slept three hours then getting paged to head to a birth, only to head out for a day of client visits afterwards. But the reality is that I'm made to be a midwife and there isn't anything else I'd rather do. As for the years of irregular sleep that I've got coming to me, well, I will just need to adjust. But at least I can do everything I can to take care of my sleep, even if unconventionally.

This year! This year I can sleep however much I need. My goal is to set the stage for myself to get a good's night sleep every night.  Goals need to be specific and realistic, so here it is: I will make getting a good sleep a priority by getting at least eight hours of sleep each night. Nine would be even better. Since Shira often still wakes up around six in the morning, this means getting to bed each night by ten o'clock, and even if she isn't up that early I love, love, love having some time to myself in the morning. So now I have a new bedtime. 

Exceptions include the following: if anyone invites me out dancing.

With my ten o'clock bedtime by my side, here is a breakdown of how I will accomplish my sleep goals:
Stop procrastinating and go to bed

Do you do this, or is it just me? I think it all started when I gave birth. The days were filled with the needs of the girls, but the evening? THAT WAS MINE. That's when I could flop down on the couch with Matty and do pretty much anything I wanted that didn't involve illicit drugs (breastfeeding and all). I began to savour each minute of those evening hours and I started staying up long after I was tired so that I could keep enjoying every minute. As hard a crush as I have on a good sleep, squeezing in an extra episode or chapter was so enticing. I actually fall asleep in mid-sentence sometimes because I push my limits so far some nights. What a dork.

Set an alarm on my phone

It's set to go off each night at ten. The important next step is to actually go to bed when it starts ringing and not just hit snooze.

Say good night to the world

I think my iphone addiction often stands in the way of my getting to sleep at night. I usually go to bed with my phone and read things that I've been looking forward to all day long (like this or this).This has bad habit written all over it. To reach my goal of eight hours of sleep each night I need to keep my phone out of the bedroom. I'm no longer on call anymore so I have no need to keep it in arm's reach.

Develop a bedtime routine

Write the next day's to-do list. Shower. Brush my teeth. Moisturize my sad, dry skin. And peek in on the girls because sleeping children are delightfully sweet. Then go to bed.

Maybe don't drink a coffee at 8 pm

I do this all the time. What am I thinking? This habit stems in part from the necessity of studying or working every night after dinner, but I need to get more creative and step away from the coffee. I love tea (just not as much as coffee), so maybe I could come look forward to a cup of rooibos Earl Grey tea each night.

Embrace the cold

We finally have an air conditioner in our bedroom and I need to turn it on more. I fall asleep so much better when the room is cold and if my goal is to get a better sleep, why not help myself out as much as possible? My resource-saving instincts are to only turn in on during a heat wave, but cooling the room off just before heading to bed sounds like a good compromise.

I think this is a doable breakdown of new habits that will get me on my way to sleeping longer and better. I can't control some things, like the way my fibromyalgia gets in the way of me feeling rested some mornings, but I can control my bedtime. If you're interested in getting a better sleep, you might like these tips.

Do you have any suggestions for me? What is your bedtime routine?

Be well!
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