My sleep struggles are well known to anyone who has received an email or text from me at 3:00 AM. My midnight musings are well documented and laughed about. Sometimes I find people during the day and say, “Last night I was thinking..”, followed by my latest idea. It seems that my mind is very active during the night and some of my best ideas come to me then. I really was never concerned, or annoyed by it. I’ve just come to accept the fact that I don’t sleep more than 5 hours a night.
I first wore my Fitbit to track steps, but soon discovered a second benefit to this little gadget. Fitbit trackers have a sleep cycle option that provides you with data on the quality of your sleep. While I doubt it’s totally accurate, it sure does open your eyes about how well, or not, you sleep. The report also shows how restless you are, as well as how many hours you are likely in REM sleep. All this data got my attention because I noticed I was very restless and not getting much REM, or deep sleep each night. This was troubling because that is the restorative sleep that is so needed by my body.
After reading and researching issues with sleeping, I came up with the following plans:
Find Out How Much Sleep I Really Need?
I used the data from my Fitbit to establish how much sleep I really do need each night. While I like to lay in bed and read, I was really only sleeping 5-6 hours a night. Knowing this made me realize that going to bed at 8:00 PM would always have my body waking at 2:00 – 3:00 AM, making this nothing to stress about.
Establish a Sleep Cycle
Creating a routine has been very helpful to me. I actually like waking at 3:00 – 4:00 AM. I find it to be the most peaceful, yet productive time of day for me. I like to have an hour or so to read and write. I like to have an hour or so to exercise. I like to not feeling rushed in the morning. Knowing that I want to be awake by 4:00 AM the latest helped me establish a bedtime. I am in bed ready for sleep by 9:00 PM each night, unless of course we have an event. Thankfully my husband likes the early morning too, as does my dog, so it’s all good.
Establish a Nightly Routine
Unplug your technology, including the phone, prior to bedtime. I unplug by 7:00 PM each night to allow myself time to unwind. I open the window to make the room slightly chilly as this can improve your sleep. In the winter I turn down the thermostat slightly. I am not a fan of television but do like to read in bed. This works perfectly for me as it also helps me to fall asleep, unless it’s a thriller!
It is important to sleep in a dark room, so black out the room to improve your sleep. Research has shown that exposure to blue light greatly affects your sleep cycle. Blue light, or light that comes from most of our devices, suppresses the production of melatonin more than any other type of light. This is why it is critical to unplug at night to ensure better sleep. If you simply must use your devices at night, they sell orange glasses that you can wear to block the blue light. They are quite funny looking, but who cares if they work. I keep a pair on my night table for nights I want to catch up on email.
Improving sleep can greatly improve your health. Getting adequate amounts of sleep each night can help you lose weight and gain strength. When you are not getting adequate sleep, your body can produce more cortisol causing weight gain. When you get adequate sleep, your body may have an increase in testosterone causing strength gains. This sounds like a win-win to me, making it worth the time spent improving my sleep cycle.
How are you sleeping these days? If you could improve your sleep with a few simple changes, would you? Please share below.
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