If your answer is "Oh, it was a full eight hours, uninterrupted, and I woke up this morning feeling fantastic!" then you don't need to the read the rest of this post. But please leave a comment and share your secret!
For the rest of us, a good night's sleep can be quite elusive.
I've written before about the fact that, since university, I've pretty much been an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of gal (which sleep experts say is a good thing) but though I'm spending the time in bed, that doesn't mean I'm actually sleeping. (Now, now, that's not what I mean!)
First of all, I'm a light sleeper (apparently I always have been), and once I'm awake the struggle to recapture the zzzz's starts again, which was terrible when my girls were babies. I would get up, tend to my little one, get her back to sleep, and then stare at the ceiling for an hour before I could join her in slumberland. Now there are far fewer night interruptions (though last week there was a "Mommy! I dreamed about a witch and now I'm scared!" 2 a.m. call. (I suggested happier thoughts: the upcoming PJ day at daycare, a visit with Grandma, starting the Advent calendar) and in the morning she ran into my room and said "Thanks for the tips! They worked!"
Can you believe my seven year old loves to wear this to bed?
The biggest problem for me is that I regularly have difficulty falling asleep. Hubby will be sawing logs beside me, and I will be wishing that blessed sleep would come to me too. I know I have trouble clearing my mind (with two plus twenty-one kids to worry about), and list making helps with that, but sometimes I'm truly not stressed about anything, I'm exhausted and still nothing. Deep breathing with some sort of mantra seems to work best (counting is distracting for me, and music with lyrics is awful too).
(On a related note: I was recently reading "Sarah Plain and Tall" to my students, and there was a part in the novel where a character went to bring in livestock before a storm, and she "counted the sheep". I remarked to the class "Wow - and she didn't even fall asleep!" Nothing. Blank stares. Come on, that was funny, right?)
How To Fall Asleep: A video about light-sleeping "Jen":
From the site, I learned that I already do some things well:
- Avoiding caffeine (which for me means Diet Coke) in the evenings (when I was pregnant I found I couldn't drink it at all - I swear even a lunchtime Diet Coke impacted my night's sleep)
- Keeping the bedroom dark: last summer we invested in blackout drapes for the bedroom window and it made a huge difference (this summer the girls are getting them too!)
- Exercising: since school started, I have managed to get on the treadmill almost every day after work, and I'm sure that helps
- Maintaining a bedtime routine: I have to say though, since LASIK, I no longer have to take my contacts out at night (which Gretchen Rubin, author of "The Happiness Project" so adeptly compares to putting the cover over the birdcage at night) but other little rituals still get the brain and body ready for bed. This works for kids too: when the girls were babies, there was a particular classical song I would play as I walked them around the nursery before putting them down at night, and as soon as they heard the first notes they would begin to fuss, knowing what was coming, but then quickly settle and not make a peep when set down.
- Keeping work out of the bedroom: I never do school work or write in bed
A quick snapshot of my sleep sanctuary
Suggestions from the site on how I could get an even better night's sleep:
- Trying a white noise machine/app
- Avoiding electronics right before bed: I always give my phone a last look, and though I rarely find anything stressful, I know even the light can have an impact
- Reading a book: I love to read before going to sleep, but hubby usually wants the light out - so perhaps a small reading light or an e-reader would be a good idea! (Lately I've been catching up on the first two seasons of "Scandal" on my laptop before I go to sleep, which I'm sure is not a slumber-friendly activity!)
To be honest, I really can't complain too much about the sleep I get, and I rarely walk around feeling tried in a sleepy way (though sometimes physically drained from the day's tasks). However, I firmly believe in the power of sleep (supposedly it helps with everything from weight loss to immunity to athletic performance) and it's always a high priority for me.
Check out the Tylenol/Sleep-Centre.ca site for more education about sleep cycles, great articles like Eat Right For a Good Night's Sleep and How To Overcome Sleep Jet Lag (wish I'd read that one before Vegas!) as well as a list of great gadgets, apps and sleep aids (sure, Tylenol Nighttime is one of them - find a $4 off coupon for Tylenol Nighttime here - but there are tons of other fantastic ideas too).
Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Tylenol Nighttime, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit: