"It is on nights like these, when your mind will not quiet down, that we might need to remind ourselves of the old adage that there is always room to try again."
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Episode 97 -- March 18, 2021Improve Sleep: Dreams Interrupted
Improve Sleep by Katrin Schubert offers significant strategies for a good night's sleep. We all hate restless nights, when we're constantly tossing and turning. Whether we can't fall asleep or stay asleep, feeling like you haven't had enough rest leaves us with quite a groggy feeling. With daylight savings time springing the clocks forward, our bodies and sleep schedules have to adjust along with it. This excerpt shares techniques that can improve your sleep habits. Having a stable night routine is essential in our paths to recovery. Following these tips can reduce sleepless nights and prepare you to take on the next day.
It has been edited for brevity.
For all of us, at any age, a chronic lack of sleep affects our mental, emotional, and physical health. The evolution of our daily routine across the past three to four decades may have occurred slowly enough that we've had the opportunity to adjust somewhat to these taxing patterns; however, our bodies, minds, and relationships are paying the price of chronic overdrive.
The long-term disruption of sleep patterns has left many people experiencing fatigue, a persistent feeling of "mind fog," and a general sense of difficulty that creeps into their relationships and daily lives.
Establish Great Sleep Ambiance
Healthy patterns and practices may be the bedrock of great sleep, but following these tips for creating great "sleep ambiance" in your home and bedroom is important for a comprehensive and regular routine:
- Sleep in the dark. A completely dark room may help you get sound, uninterrupted sleep. The sleep-inducing hormone melatonin is released at dusk and during the night. Being exposed to lights, especially the ones that have a blue hue, will disrupt melatonin's release and therefore disrupt your ability to sleep soundly. If you frequently wake at night to make a jaunt to the bathroom, consider getting a dim red or orange light to lead your way rather than bright white or blue lights.
- Turn it all off! Shutting off electricity and any electromagnetic fields in your bedroom allows your body to rest. You may have noticed how much better you feel when fluorescent lights are turned off after you have been exposed to them for a while. The same holds true for wireless Internet, cordless phones, and any electric and electronic devices. Many physicians understand that people heal faster and more efficiently when the wireless internet is shut off at night. Some specialists are of the opinion that anyone suffering from a chronic illness will only be able to truly heal if the wireless connections are shut off during the night. Turning off your electronic devices and wireless internet might be the key to rest.
- Clear it out! Clear your bedroom of TVs and computers, as well as bright white and blue lights (or install dimmable ones). Ideally, the ambiance in your bedroom invokes relaxation and has no electronic equipment.
- Find your perfect temperature. Keeping your room cool but your bed warm can help you sleep. If your bedroom tends to be very cool, warming your bed with an electric blanket or heating pad can help you relax when you crawl into bed. Please make sure to turn it off and remove it when you get into bed, as having an electric current in your bed is not good for healthy sleep. Research has shown that it takes much longer to fall asleep when one is even just slightly cold in bed; however, breathing cool air supports your sleep.
- Comfort is key! Needless to say, a proper mattress and pillow allow for a sound sleep. If you can fully relax into your cozy, comfortable, and supportive bed, you will sleep more soundly.
- Safety first! Make sure you feel safe where you sleep. If you have any concerns about disruption, lock your door. You may feel more relaxed. A heavy blanket or body pillow can add to your sense of Coziness.
Get Up and Try Again
At times, we retire to bed looking forward to a good night's sleep only to find that our mind wakes up and becomes perky once we hit the pillow. At other times, we fall asleep just fine only to suddenly wake from a deep sleep in the middle of the night, our mind suddenly busy with seemingly pressing tasks like folding the laundry, sorting papers, making phone calls, or sending urgent e-mails. It is on nights like these, when your mind will not quiet down, that we might need to remind ourselves of the old adage that there is always room to try again.
If you try some of the relaxation exercises in this book, but still cannot get to sleep, you may want to just get up and engage in some activity. On nights like that, know you are not alone. The wisdom keepers of sound sleep have experienced this problem and are the first to admit that there are times when getting out of bed and moving might actually be exactly what you need for a good night of sleep. Get up and try again, by tackling mundane and boring tasks that do not require a lot of brain function and mental alertness. You'll end up with a sense of accomplishment, and you will have moved your body a little, which often helps settle a person back into dreamland.
HOW TO DO IT
If you find yourself too alert to get to sleep and feel that your body would rather engage in activity, get out of bed and tackle a small and mundane task for fifteen minutes or so. The short burst of physical activity will reset your nervous system. Then, when you are done, go back to bed. You may notice that your body wanted a little movement and productivity before settling down for the night. Here are some sample sleep-enhancing tasks to do at night:
- Arrange your dishes
- Mend a sock
- Sort your recycling (if it does not wake your housemates)
- Make lunches for the next day
- Fold laundry
- Clean out your purse
- Trim your moustache
- Alphabetize your bookshelf
- Dust your trophies
- Read a ho-hum book
When getting up at night, it is important to remember to stay away from electronic screens of any kind. It is wise to avoid cell phones, computers, tablets, e-readers, or video games, as such activities may rouse your nervous system rather than settle it down. Should there be an urgent need to use an electronic device, make sure the night setting is turned on to protect your body from the blue and white hues that signal daytime to your nervous system.
About the Author:
Katrin Schubert has dedicated her career to helping her fellow human beings heal their bodies, minds, and spirits with natural medicine. After completing her medical degree and a PhD in human genetics at the University of Hamburg, and receiving international training in England, the Czech Republic, India, China, Canada, and the United States, she opened her holistic health clinics in Kingston and Gananoque, Ontario, Canada. Katrin also has a science degree from Queen's University in Kingston. She is the author of the first two books in the 5-Minute First Aid for the Mind series, Relieve Stress and Reduce Craving.
© 2017 by Katrin Schubert
All rights reserved. Published 2017.