Sleepless in Shippensburg
So last week I got sidetracked, and forgot all kinds of things. There were even moments when it was tough to put words together correctly! I suspect it was because I was sleepless in Shippensburg!
Like many of us, I don’t always get enough sleep. Sometimes it’s because there’s something on my mind. Sometimes it’s because I’m hot, or overtired, or just having “one of those nights.” Sometimes, like last week, it’s because I just came back from vacation abroad and my time/sleep schedule is in disarray. In any case, sleeping is a vital and impactful part of life, and when it’s compromised in some way, there can be problems.
A new UK study has found that the quality of sleep is more important than the quantity, and that getting enough sleep is like winning the lottery! It’s possible, the study finds, that the better your sleep, the better your physical, mental and emotional health will be.
Conversely, a lack of sleep can affect your cognitive function, your physical reflexes, even your sex drive. It can lead to chronic health problems such as depression, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It ages your skin, affects your memory, impairs your judgment and can make you gain weight. Yikes!
It seems important to get a good and restful night’s sleep to avoid all these pitfalls.
But how to do it? Here are some ideas …
Power your electronics down. The blue light from them may keep you awake. And you shouldn’t be using them right before trying to sleep, anyhow. Screen use tends to inhibit sleep.
Stick to a schedule – your body gets used to its sleep/wake cycle so it’s important to keep to it, even on weekends and vacations.
If you can’t sleep after 15 minutes or so, get up, do something relaxing, and then go back to sleep when you’re tired again. If you lay there agonizing, that will disturb your sleep even more!
Don’t be either hungry or full. And limit your beverages before bed to lessen the chance of having to wake more often.
Be cautious about nicotine, caffeine and alcohol, all of which have a stimulating effect on your body and take hours to wear off. Alcohol in particular may make you feel tired, but can disrupt your sleep later.
Create a bedtime ritual. It will help signal your body that it’s time for sleep. Some things that are helpful are warm showers or baths, reading, meditating or praying, listening to soothing music, keeping the lights dimmed, and eliminating intense media use.
Be comfortable – make sure your bedroom is dark, cool and quiet. Consider noise-making machines or earplugs, room-darkening shades or a sleep mask. Also think about bedding and pillows – find what works for you.
Limit daytime naps, if you must, but nap only for about 10-30 minutes, and at least 8 hours or so before you intend to go to sleep at night.
Be physically active. Often those most physically active fall asleep easier and sleep sounder. But it can be iffy to exercise too close to bedtime because it energizes you.
Manage your stress. Stress, more than anything, can affect sleep. Find ways to lessen it – get organized, make lists, delegate, set priorities, take physical care of yourself. Make jotting down what’s on your mind a part of your bedtime ritual.
If sleeplessness continues or is affecting the quality of your life, see your physician. It’s too important a part of life and health to ignore.
Have a great sleep tonight, and every night!
If you are stressed because of a lack of sleep or any other issue in your life, we want to help. We are experts at helping you live your best life. Give us a call!
We help grieving individuals, distressed teens and couples in conflict find peace, solutions and connection.
Sanctuary Christian Counseling
9974 Molly Pitcher Highway, Suite 4
Shippensburg, PA 17257