Let’s just start off this 3-part sleep series with a simple truth. Sleep is complicated!
Sleep is something that is often overlooked as a foundational part or our health and wellness. Anyone who misses a good night’s sleep can attest to that! I decided to write a series of articles on this topic for my readers because good quality sleep is not a nice-to-have experience, but literally one that can profoundly affect your health and even your life, no exaggeration, you’ll learn why in this series.
While I will be focusing on how sleep affects women - the information offered here affects men as well, so do share these articles with people you care about. I will be covering everything I could think of related to sleep, from sheets to sleep-aids.
Now, there is a compelling statistic that I recently heard that really struck me. Ninety-Five (95) percent of our daily behaviors are habits. Certainly our sleep experience is shaped by our habits and we have the power to create new habits by understanding the ramifications of our choices.
Let’s start by reviewing some of the habits that we have, that disrupt our sleep.
T.V. in the bedroom and watching it to “help you go to sleep”.
Full disclosure, personally, this was one of the toughest habits for me to break! I used to
love laying in bed, nice and cozy, to watch a movie or late-night shows. I had no idea
how much this was contributing to waking up exhausted.
I’ve had clients tell me that this is the only way they can fall asleep. In fact some of them
would set timers to shut off the TV to ensure that it would go off after they fell asleep.
The problem was that they invariably would wake up one or more times during the night
and there is no way to get restorative sleep with multiple wakings.
Using other electronics in the bedroom - phones, tablets and computers - JUST. SAY. NO!
Why? Because the blue light waves cause several problems. They suppress melatonin
(a sleep hormone ) so it makes it harder to get to sleep, stay asleep and it shortens total
sleep time. You don’t get into deeper sleep and are likely to have more nighttime
awakenings. You are going to wake up tired! In a later article we will dive deeper into
many of the other metabolic disturbances that are like a domino effect on your overall
Staying up way too late because you need some “me” time.
Come on ladies, you know what I’m talking about! It’s that magic time of your day when
the family is in bed, there’s no one asking you to do stuff for them, no phone ringing,
no carpooling, no meetings, you get the picture. The house is quiet and you can finally
take a deep breath. Unfortunately, it’s now after midnight and you haven’t quite started
winding down, but it might be too late, because now you get a “second wind” and you
start to suspect that sleep might just be a waste of time. Sadly, you have just experienced
a stress hormone, cortisol, kicking into gear. After a short time you feel exhausted, but
you can’t turn off your brain - it’s a phenomenon called “tired and wired”, once again
your hormones seem to be turning against you. I don’t mean to exclude men here - but
in my experience this is a common scenario for women.
Using your bed as a picnic spot or as your office.
This can create a kind of confusion around what this space is for. If you become
habituated to using your bed for other than it’s intended use,( primarily sleep), your
habits of working in bed and eating in bed can interfere with your ability to wind down
and rest. Also, when it comes to food, this is usually coupled with watching TV which
results in reinforcing two habits that distract from sleep.
Here are some actions that you can take to begin the process of establishing good sleep habits:
I always suggest that you start with just one change and work with that, maybe for a week then incorporate another until over time, this becomes your new normal.
Photo by BRUNO CERVERA on Unsplash
I'm Carmina McGee, MS, RDN, and my mission is to support women to live their happiest, healthiest lives and THRIVE!