Friday, February 18, 2011

Project Get Good Sleep

I wasn't always a terrible sleeper. As a child I had no problems sleeping. As a young adult sleep did not elude me. I think it was after my daughter was born that my sleep was disrupted enough and over time it wore on, wore me down and a decade later, sometimes it's really hard to get solid sleep. I also think that as we age, uninterrupted sleep is harder to get, but I'm no expert.

This past summer I noticed that I was feeling sleep deprived and stressed more than usual and I took it upon myself to develop some guidelines to give myself a chance to have a decent night's sleep when I needed it. These aren't everyday guidelines necessarily, but are the big guns I use when a solid night isn't imperative (that would put too much stress on the situation), but is likely. Then I can be fortified the next day with the knowledge I had a good sleep, I get the real benefits that come from having a good night's sleep, and the relaxation that comes from knowing I've done what I could to take care of myself.

Most of what I'm going to type here is common sense and you can probably already find loads of articles about these items. These are my personal guidelines.

Project Get Good Sleep Guidelines:

Go to sleep at the Right Time. Be in bed ready to sleep before 11. By 10 is even better. But not too early. Not before 9:30.

Eat the Right Amount at the Right Time. For me this means I can't go to bed hungry or else I'll wake up, and I can't go to bed full or else I'll be digesting and that will wake me up. So dinner after 6 and before 7:30 is what works for me.

Don't Drink Too Much Alcohol. Too much wine makes me sleepy but then wakes me up in the middle of the night. So if I've had anything to drink, I try to make it happen with dinner so it's all done by 7:30.

No Talking After 9. This isn't strict, but I try not to talk on the phone or have any conversations that are going to require that I think a lot or have any emotional content before bed. I'll talk by texting or maybe an email, but I try not to gab after 9. (This is just for Project Get Good Sleep, remember?)

No Electronics in Bed. Again, not strict, but I don't have a TV in my bedroom anymore and if the computer's in there, it's limited to low key activities. I put the wireless devices on airplane mode so I don't get email. The strict version has no computer, iPad, phone, nothing that will beep or light up.

Hot Bath. I find that after I take a hot bath, I'm dopey and good for just about nothing but sleep. So a hot bath is key for me in setting the tone for bedtime if sleep is what's in store.

Responsibilities. If I have an inkling that tonight might be a night for Project Get Good Sleep I make an extra effort to tie up loose ends during the day, so I don't go to bed and wake up remembering to do something important or wondering if I shouldn't handle such and such.

Exercise. Making sure that my body has had sufficient exercise makes Project Get Good Sleep more likely. It's also a way to get tired - tire out the body in a good way.

The Bed. Not that high up on the list obviously, but fresh sheets, the Perfect Pillow, room temperature and brightness/darkness, can also factor in, so I make sure I'm set up to be not too hot, not too cold, not woken up by the lights of downtown, and all of that good stuff.

Opportunity. Project Get Good Sleep is not something you may be able to have every night. If you're living a full life, there are many nights you're out late, you're eating late, you're having a blast and travelling and having fun with friends or working on exciting projects until the wee hours. These are guidelines for the times when you have a chance - or you need to build in a chance - to get a good night's sleep every once in a while. I find the more I tackle it and know that when I have a chance I'll get a good night's sleep, I'm more relaxed on the night's when I can't, and I know that I have it in me to create a night of good sleep for myself.

And there you have it. Jamine's personal guidelines for Project Get Good Sleep. Thanks Twitter, for asking!

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