Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sleep Well

I’ve been blogging less over the past few months in favor of sleep and exercise. We women have a tendency to put sleep at the end of our long to-do lists. We spend our days nurturing others and meeting deadlines (real or self-imposed) and the nurturing of self goes by the wayside. We don’t do ourselves or our families any favors by living this way.

Getting enough sleep is crucial to our health. Did you know that quality sleep boosts your memory, helps you fight cancer, diabetes, obesity, and is good for your heart? Sleep also reduces your risk for depression, reduces stress levels and reduces inflammation. If you are a woman who hates to waste a minute, look at sleep this way: Your body is hard at work rebuilding and restoring itself during those hours that you lie cozy under the covers. This translates into healthier skin, greater immunity, more energy and a more positive outlook on life. Who doesn’t want that?

“But, I’ve never been much for sleep, I do my best thinking at night, I need a few minutes of peace and quiet after a long day with the kids,” you say. Let me tell you, from one night owl to another, it is possible to change your sleeping habits. It might require some effort to set aside our old, unhealthy sleep patterns but sound sleep is attainable.

Here are some ideas that you can try to make it possible for you to sleep for eight continuous hours.

1. Put down the caffeine…at least for several hours before bedtime. Or, you can give it up entirely for even better health. (OK, I know for some of you that might be a stretch.)
2. Make sure to exercise sometime during the day. Regular exercise is good for our sleep patterns.
3. Get ready for bed early. Take a warm bath and put on your comfy pajamas. Drink some warm milk. Do some stretching.
4. Stay away from the computer, and the TV. These can tend to activate you when you are trying to wind down. I read aloud to the kids for a while and then go to bed when they do.
5. Make sure your room is dark. Black really. No night-lights, no street lights. Our bodies produce melatonin in the dark. The more melatonin we produce the better we sleep. As we age, our bodies produce less of this hormone so you may want to consider a melatonin supplement to help you achieve eight good hours of sleep if getting enough rest is really a struggle for you.
6. Invest in a white noise machine if your mind whirrs and you need a soothing distraction to lull you to sleep.
7. Get up in the morning! I really struggle with the temptation to sleep in after a restless night’s sleep but this just sets me up for those poor sleep habits to return with a vengeance. It's better to just get up and try again the next evening to sleep soundly.

I know that some of you mamas with wee ones and sick ones are rolling your eyes at this post and are wondering if you will ever sleep again. Those sleep-deprived days are tough. Hang in there. Normal sleeping patterns will return.

In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. Psalm 127:2 Sleep is a gift! We would be wise to value those dreamy hours and not cast them aside in favor of blogging, or scrap booking, or any other activities we let rob us of our rest. Sleep well tonight!


Love Bears All Things said...

I love to sleep so I tend to get what I need. Not in long doses but short ones. I rarely sleep more than two hours without waking although I go right back to sleep usually. I find reading at bedtime keeps me from thinking too much which is a sure deterrent to sleeping. I've often said that if I accomplished all I planned at night instead of sleeping, I would be so productive.
Mama Bear

Darlene said...

I love that verse! I've had trouble sleeping for years, but I tried cutting off caffeine in the evenings and that helped. Exercise has also helped a lot. Yay!

Living Beyond said...

AMEN!! I love the scripture at the end - sleep is a gift and I unfortunately am guilty of not getting enough, although I do love to sleep! Your post is very timely as a friend I were just taking about this one issue this morning and here it comes again through you. I think I better listen up!!


Christin said...

What a perfect post for me to hear today! ...and I can't even explain why, really. Well, you know, other than the fact that (besides the need-for-caffeine) it described me to a T. *wink*

Angela @ Refresh My Soul Blog said...

Thanks for this post Kate! I am working on this area too. I am just trusting GOd that normal sleep patterns will return as my kids grow more and more.
Blessings and much love,

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

I'm a reformed night owl myself. Now I find it hard to stay up past 10 p.m. (I was a midnight gal).

Great thoughts, Kate!

Faith @ The Great Adventure said...

Wise words! I've been struggling to get back into healthy sleep patterns; this is a good reminder!

mom said...

What a wonderful aspect of living well that I haven't thought about deeply before.

It's interesting in that I was always looking forward to the day when all my children would be grown enough to be sleeping all night long in their very own beds so I could finally sleep. Now that my littlest is four and everyone does sleep through the night, I find myself waking up frequently although fortunately able to fall back to sleep fairly quickly. As I've talked to other women around my age, I have found that it is a common occurrence as women hit mid-life and perimenopause :::sigh::: Always a new season to learn more about, isn't there?!

Here's to FORTY WINKS!

Tammy ~@~

ValleyGirl said...

This is another wonderful post! I'm definitely trying to get into the habit of going to bed and waking earlier. I've always been a morning person, but recently, I've developed the bad habit of staying up way past when I know I need to get to bed!!

This is some great information you've provided us with again. Thanks!!

Susanne said...

Thanks for sharing that! The verse you used really spoke to me...we have not been doing well at getting to bed at a decent hour around here. It doesn't take too much figuring to figure out that this is sabotaging all my other efforts to "Live Well".
Thanks again for this awesome post!

Alana said...

Wise words. We forget that sleep is so important. I know I feel and do so much better when I get a good night's sleep!

Sweet dreams, friend!

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

Thanks for a good reminder. I, too, love that verse and have found it to be so true in my own life. It's better to have an imperfect house with a rested, cheerful Mommy, than a house cleaned late with a tired and grouchy Mommy! It's just so tempting sometimes...

Jennifer said...

Just browsing these back posts tonight.
I feel very challenged - I am the proverbial night owl. But I know better. I like your encouraging words instead of the tsk-tsking I usually get. It's must more motivating.

I usually cycle around - when I'm at my last straw, I start back with the normal sleeping hours, but gradually the morph into the freakish ones... I'm currently on a bad routine, with the holidays and all their busyness. Time to straighten up!