Sleep Lizdom

“2 AM?? What time do you have to go to bed?”

I can’t tell you how often I hear this when I’m asked about my job. I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night for work for almost a decade now, so if there is one thing I’m an expert on, it’s sleep. Mostly because I love it, it’s fleeting, I’m desperate for it and I’ve dedicated so much of my time to trying to get it.

Because I go to sleep during the day, I’ve had to create my own personal sleep environment, and this past year or so, my husband and I have gotten very serious about doing this. In creating this space, I’ve learned so much about sleep that I wanted to share what I’ve discovered, because most likely you are like me and struggling to get every minute of shut eye you can.

Let’s get started…

The Sleep Lizdom Rulebook

1. Think of sleep as a non-negotiable.

At this point, the research is in. Sleep is necessary to our vital organs and cognitive function, and it’s clear we aren’t getting enough of it. A lack of sleep effects our productivity, health and quality of life. It can even be dangerous if you operate heavy machinery or drive for a living. So this is where you have to police yourself. Remember back in the day when your mom would give you a bedtime, no ifs, and or buts? Do that right now. Set a bedtime, and stick to it. This is difficult and takes a lot of discipline. There are also temptations. I know Netflix is calling your name, but train your mind to make this rule an absolute non-negotiable. Whatever you think is more important than sleep right now, it won’t be when you can’t lift your eyelids in the morning.

2. No midweek alcohol. 

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Wolfie is a Riesling guy.

I love a glass of wine or two on the weekend or at Friday happy hour, but I feel like I learned this rule the hard way, and sometimes I still don’t listen and pay for it the next day. Recent research debunks what we all assume: that a nightcap before bed helps us fall asleep. In fact, one study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found alcohol actually contributes to poor quality of sleep. So while you think you’re getting to sleep quickly, the type of sleep you’re getting is, for lack of a better term, pretty crappy.

3. Give the “Night Shift” a try.

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If you have the latest version of your iPhone or iPad’s iOS software, you should have the “night shift function” on your phone. Give it a try and turn it on if you plan to use your phone a couple hours before bed. This function removes “blue light” and tunes your phone to a warmer hue, to help your brain prepare for bed.

4. Even better, put your electronics away 2-3 hours before bed.

This one, I find close to impossible, so I prefer the night shift function. However, our electronics and all the blue light they emit, is hurting the quality of our sleep, and our ability to sleep, according to research from Harvard. If you can, get rid of the electronics while you start winding down for sleep.

5. Set a time limit for your emails.

I have committed to not checking email after a certain time of the day. I don’t know what that time is for you, but write yourself a note or set an alarm, and commit to letting go on the email habit after a certain time. I don’t have any research for this one, except my personal experience. Think about it: say you get some complicated email an hour before bed. Next thing you know you’re responding, or you’re on the phone, or you’re not relaxed at all and just fretting. Then you look at the clock, you’ve missed your bedtime, and even if you make it to bed, you can’t turn your brain off and you can’t sleep. It’s a slippery slope!

6. Keep your bedroom cold and dark.

We don’t have air conditioning, and after two miserable summers, I finally threw in the towel and invested in a portable A/C. Now, I can’t wait for summer! All the research I’ve found shows we sleep better when the bedroom is about 65 degrees.

Keeping the room dark has been another challenge for me, because we go to bed about 5 or 6 PM, and our bedroom faces the sunset. If you’re a shift worker, I highly recommend blackout curtains or shades.

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Our bedroom is a cave now!

I recently purchased these thick tarp-like shades on Amazon.  They aren’t totally attractive, but I’m not going for looks and I love them. I’m also not very handy but they were quite easy to put up.

7. Practice deep breathing in bed.

Have you heard of the 4-7-8 method? I swear by it. Here’s how it works: lie in bed and inhale through your nose for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7. Finally, exhale deeply and slowly for a count of 8. Repeat a few times, if you’re still awake. I find I can do this about 3-4 times and I’m out cold. Here is more info: 4-7-8 method for sleep.

8. Invest in a great bed, and some luxurious bedding.

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My mom would be disappointed to see I didn’t make my bed before I took this photo.

OK, I don’t mean drop a ton of dough on bedding. Frankly, our bed kinda sucked a few months ago, so we decided to do some research and invest in a new bed and some new bedding. Now, I’m obsessed with our bed. I call it the goldilocks bed. It’s not too hard and not too soft. It’s just right. It also didn’t cost us a fortune. We purchased a Casper bed. I got some hotel-quality sheets off Overstock.com. The one splurge I made was a heavy, down-filled comforter from Cuddledown. For me, it was worth it. I love the feeling of heavy, luxurious comforters in a cold room. Figure out what works for you and do some research.

9. Pets or no pets?

This one is a personal preference. I love having our dogs in bed, but for others, they can bounce around all night and bug you, or take up all the space, ruining your quality of sleep.

10. Eat for sleep.

Certain foods are sleep inducing, but others can disrupt sleep. I personally like to avoid heavy meals before bed, because I can’t get comfortable with a Chipotle burrito rolling around in my stomach. If you want a little pre-bedtime snack, Prevention magazine has a great list that includes cherries, chamomile, bananas, spinach and almonds. They recommend a nice little combo of carbs and protein to help fall asleep.

Bottom line: you can’t make up for lost sleep. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Make a commitment to your health and to yourself to get the very best sleep possible for your lifestyle, family situation and work hours. You are worth it.

Hope this helps.

Sweet dreams!

 

9 thoughts on “Sleep Lizdom

  1. The new research shows that if you miss out on sleep during the week, you can catch up on it on your day off! Also, magnesium before bed is helpful for a deep sleep and holds the key to a mineral your body needs.

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  2. I can relate to working, what I call, an oddball schedule. I had a commute to work each day, so every day I was up at midnight, two hours to wake-up, half an hour to get ready (really only took me about 15-20 min), make a cup of coffee for the road, and leaving 2 hours before work due to distance and potential obstacles like overnight road construction, accidents, or if my vehicle had problems, I could get someone to me and still get to work on time. To get up at midnight, bed-time was 5 pm on the nose 5 days a week. No drinking on work nights, and then leave work by 2 pm and get home an hour later with 2 hours to unwind. I did that for a year and a half. I was only late once.

    The hard part about that was when I left that job, I had a hard time getting back into a normal routine. I now work a job in almost the same area, but I’ve made changes to ensure I get a little more rest, don’t leave quite so early, but I’m still adjusting to a regular sleep schedule, which is going to bed at 9 and being up at 4 am.

    Being that you and your hubs are in the news industry, when (or if) you leave the industry, I hope you don’t have that same problem.

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  3. Any ideas for the snoring partner? I currently wear ear plugs to bed at night, but sometimes worry I won’t hear anything during an emergency.

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    1. You know, I also wear earplugs, and while it helps for me, I’ve never had any issues hearing alarms or other sounds. I’ll take a look at some research and ask around. Has your partner tried different sleeping positions? Sometimes snoring is worse is someone is sleeping on their back. Or even those little breathright strips to open the airway? Also, have you gone to a sleep specialist? Sometimes snoring can be a sign of a larger issue, like sleep apnea, and once that’s solved, snoring is lessened a bit.

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  4. My #1 is great sheets and good comforters, I will only buy the 100% Egyptian Cotton sheets from Costco yes they are a decent amount of money but they last so long (I have a set that’s almost 10 yrs old) and we run our AC unit year round in our room for both white noise and keeping cool.

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