Seems like people are having a hard time sleeping. No surprise. Time to put my hard won, 15years on night shift, sleep knowledge back out there again.
First off, find a bedtime routine and stick to it. Right now, everyone’s routine is out of wack so our bodies aren’t sure when to start closing the shutters and locking the doors. You have to give your body the cues to let it know it’s ok to start relaxing.
Your body: Oh bed, sleep now?
On that note, if you’re WFH (working from home) DON’T work in bed. It confuses your body.
You: no, work now.
Your body: Whaaaaaat? Ok….
On to the other stuff.
Sound: I play an audio book that I’ve heard a million times next to me. They can usually be put on a timer. If white noise works for you, then do that. Personally anything that cycles drives me crazy (fan for ex. it also bothers my subconscious if the sound interval is too short, my ear hears where the birds or waves loop back to the beginning, be aware that might bother you too) If you can sleep with ear plugs, those can help (for me they make me sea sick after too long but they help for some people).
Temperature: is super important. Find your sweet spot and do what you can to get your bed there with either light or heavy sheets, an electric mattress pad or if you sleep hot, a fan. A bath or shower before bed to warm up or cool down can be part of your routine too.
Light: Turn off all screens an hour before bed. If you just can’t do that, most cell phones and newer screens have the ability to turn off the blue range so do that. If you sleep with a tv on, cover the screen with a blanket. Put tape over all the little lights on devices and power strips and modems and everything else. If you need a night light get a single one. Tvs flicker, and little lights everywhere mean you can’t turn your back on them. Just one light can be ok though. If you can tolerate a sleep mask, use one. Also, heavy curtains, even when you’re sleeping at night. Car lights and street lights can be a problem. Lights, even through your eyelids, keep your eyes from resting, so you wake up tired because your eyes are still tired.
Upper airways: I have an air purifier and humidifier next to my bed. I have allergies and I either dry out or choke on snot in my sleep otherwise. Also a water bottle next to bed so I don’t have to get up to get a drink if my mouth is dry.
Comfort: don’t feel like you have to sleep in something cute, I’ve had so many pjs that looked cool but just weren’t comfy so I got rid of them. Also, if you’re prone to dry skin, don’t get lazy and skip the lotion before bed. That mild itchy feeling can make your sleep uneasy. Also, don’t feel like you HAVE to sleep with a top sheet. If you’re just getting tangled up in it all the time then ditch it and was your blanket weekly. On that note, change and wash your sheets. Sometimes things get hectic and that gets forgotten but they don’t breath as well when they get dirty and that makes a person uncomfortable and not know why.
Head position: there are a thousand kinds of pillows. I have one with the U cut away, which really helps for side sleepers, and a higher one because I have bigger shoulders. When you can, take some time in a few stores and try pillows. I once spent $70 on one hi tech foam pillow but it lasted me 10years. You want your head in line with your spine. That aids comfortable breathing and lets your muscles rest.
Mattress: this one’s a tough one because a good one is so damn expensive, but it’s like good shoes, your body will feel so much better if you experiment and nail this one down. I went to Hom which has a three month return policy as long as you keep a cover on it. A lot of quality stores do this.
On the previous two topics, you can try a snoogle or other body/pregnancy pillow. You might be surprised how that extra support helps you sleep longer.
Chemicals: Even if you’re acclimated to a lot of caffeine and think it doesn’t bother your sleep, just try to stay off it for at least 4hrs before bed time a few nights and see what happens. Remember that coco and green tea do have some caffeine in them too. Also try to stay hydrated over all, but lay off fluids for an hour before bed. Anything that gets you up is disrupting your sleep.
Warm decaf beverages can help.
Zzzquil, Tylenol pm, melatonin, these can help short term, but long term aren’t so great.
Alcohol might get you to sleep but it causes a yo-yo effect with your blood sugar so you’ll end up waking up in the middle of the night.
You don’t get the same kind of restorative sleep on rx sleep meds either. They’re better than nothing though. So if you’re prescribed them, take them.
Exercise: yeah, you knew this was coming. If you don’t do something to get the blood moving then how does your body know whether it’s awake time or sleep time? Your body is kind of dumb, you can’t use logic to tell it to sleep. It can be as simple as a 20 min walk or 10 minute body weight or yoga routine, (they’re all over Youtube). Exercise changes your temperature and blood sugar though so try to get it done at least an hour before bedtime. Gentle stretching and or foam rolling can be done just before bed to cue your body it’s sleep time though.
Naps: day naps can help and can hinder. Experiment and do what’s right for you
Animals: again do what’s right for you. If they insist on keeping you awake all night, you may have to shut the door on them. This is a training issue and there’s lots of articles out there on this. But if they’re quiet and don’t bother you much, let them be where they want. They flourish on routine too, so make sure you play with them and walk them everyday and let them love you, even when it’s inconvenient. They’re stressed when you’re stressed and they’ll often show it by wanting to be near you.
This doesn’t mean 3am zoomies will go away. What causes those is a mystery wrapped in an enigma smothered in secret sauce)
Finally: Keep a sleep journal to track what you tried and what works or didn’t. There’s apps for this, but a note pad works too.
You might think because I know all this I must get good sleep always, but that’s not the case. I usually do now but there’s a lot going on outside of our control. FORGIVE YOURSELF if you aren’t sleeping. You can function on less sleep for a while and stressing about it makes sleep even less likely. Also, if your body wants more sleep than usual, try to let it. These are stressful times and stress burns more energy. There’s limits, but you’ll know if it’s becoming a problem due to depression or a physical issue. Up to then though, let yourself get extra if you can.
Above all, make sleep a priority. It is as important as eating, drinking and breathing, so do everything you can to get your 7-9 hours.
The Prince strode into the King’s hall and threw the giant’s head at the feet of the royal thrones.
“I have completed my task and fulfilled my oath oh King, now I have come for my prize. Your daughter’s hand in marriage.” He crowed this to the King and court
“‘Tis true you have and I am a king of my word-” but the King’s words ceased when there was a sudden movement at his side. His daughter, the Princess, stood and drew her sword. Her face unreadable, she turned toward her father and set her free hand on the arm of his throne.
“It is true father, you offer many things that are not yours to give, and yet you give them still,” she said as she stared into the eyes of the Prince unblinking.
All was silent in the throne room. Then color raised in her cheeks, and many gasped as her sword swung.
The sword cleaved through flesh and nearly all the way through the wood of the grand chair.
The Princess smiled through clenched teeth and after re-sheathing her sword, she looked down and bent to pick her hand up from the granite floor.
Not a murmur was heard of the hundreds assembled as she descended the steps dripping blood, and stood before the Prince.
She held her hand out to him, but he did not take it. His nostrils flared, and his eyes squinted as he prepared to speak.
But she dropped the hand at his feet, silencing him once more, and splattering blood on his boots. Then she tore the collar from her blouse and wrapped her new stump to preserve her remaining life within her body.
“Prince,” she said then. “There is your prize. My hand. Marry it, bury it, with it do what you will. But if you ever presume to bargain further for me, I will be delivered in pieces before I consent to be traded like I am the property of any man.”
She turned her back on him, and her father, and left the hall then, never to return…Until the day she was made Queen.
Possible Tw: violence, but it gets better.Why do I bring politics up? Well, I have a question for some of you. Have you ever stood face to face with a stranger while they screamed abuse at you? Eye to eye while their spittle landed on your cheeks? While they condemned you to hell, while they reveled in the future where they saw you burned and flayed in life, and then eternity, because of who you love?
Because I have.
Have you ever stood face to face with a man who lived near you and knew where you lived, who whispered in smoker’s breath how the white man is superior and soon they would kill people like you, and your friends and family. And how he would like to just take out his knife and gut you right there if there weren’t so many people watching?
Because I have.
Pretty much all of you know how big and strong I am and these men were my size. Maybe I could have fought and lived if they tried to do these things to me. Maybe not. But I had people standing with me, so I didn’t have to find out.
So do you think I’m going to cry over a lost election? No.
You think I’m going to cry because the people in power right now are cut from the same cloth as those who threatened me? No.
I will fight them. As I have fought them my whole life.
Because it’s not politics, this is people who are threatening other people’s lives just as transparently as when I stood face to face with their ilk. And the only way to stop people with the power to hurt other people is to stand together and stand up to them.
You wonder why I feel so strongly about people I’ll never meet? Because people I had never met stood with me in those times, when I needed them. Muslim people, black people, immigrant people, men, women, Christians, Asian, Latinx, Native, Jewish people, gay, lesbian bi and trans* people, poor and rich people. So many different people stood with me on those Aids fundraiser rides and other marches, and in quiet places on college campuses, at home, and in new strange places, they stood with me and we kept each other safe. There are more good people than bad in this world, and I will take and face the bad, I will not cower behind a wall of fear, if I can stand with the good.
So I’m dancing around in my living room and the cats are staring at me. They look enraptured. They aren’t just following me with their eyes, they are turning their heads and craning their necks to see me when I go behind the chair too. So I dance closer to them, and then Sumi gets up and then stands on her hind legs and I think, “Oh my, she’s going to dance with-” and then she slaps a whole paw full of needle sharp claws into my inner thigh. I yelp, she runs and hides behind Boo..
The drawstring on my pants. They were watching the drawstring on my pants.