Rest Assured. Get Better Sleep!

27 comments

There are many things that keep us from sleeping better, but it all boils down to stress. Stress keeps us from sleeping, but what is worse is that stress is caused by lack of sleep.

Consistent sleep

get better sleep

Ideally we should be getting 7.5-9 hours of sleep per night and it is better if these are the same hours. This means falling asleep at the same time and waking up at the same time each day. A consistent sleep routine is very important to our physical and emotional well being! I cannot stress this enough. But how many of us actually do this?

We lead incredibly stressful lives and then not sleep enough to exponentially compound the problem. Flashbacks increase, anxiety increases, sadness is more consuming and patience decreases when we don’t get enough z’s.

Sometimes my clients come in with multiple problems in their families and they tell me how upset they have been, as well as really down on themselves for not being able to cope with everything. Then, they say that they are not getting enough sleep. I’m not surprised, stress makes it difficult to sleep, as our mind racing with all of these scenarios late at night.

First of all, lack of sleep alone has us out of touch with our own skills and abilities, it increases our impatience, anxiety, and decreases our ability to see the big picture. If nothing else was going on, I tell them, you’d be feeling like this just from lack of sleep and it would be normal. But then, you have all these things on top of it. (Why are we so hard on ourselves for being upset when it is a completely appropriate response to what is going on? This self judgment exaggerates any problem, and often becomes the problem, which is why I write so much about it. See self judgment articles.)

First and foremost, they need better sleep. We all need better sleep to maintain our good health or to heal. Our immune system needs sleep more than anything else. Sleep is when the body and mind recover and replenish. Our brain cleans itself out. The fluid between the synapsis in our brain cells clean each night. When we do not get enough sleep this liquid gets thicker and more syrupy. No wonder it makes it hard to think straight when we are tired, because it is literally hard to think- thoughts have trouble traveling from nerve cell to nerve cell, getting caught up in the syrup.

How to get better sleep

1. Make sleep a priority.

We often take from our sleep time, whenever we run out of time in our day to get our things done. This is the quickest way to burn out. Tasks end up taking longer when we are sleep deprived.

2. Go to bed at the same time each night.

3. Wake at the same time each morning.

4. Start sleep deprived.

Don’t sleep late in the morning and expect yourself to go to bed early to change your schedule. You must begin by getting up at the desired time. You can wake up when you are tired, but it is much harder to fall asleep if you are not tired. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make.

5. Nix the nap.

If you are already having a problem falling asleep or waking up. Nap only if neither of these are a problem.

6. Keep electronics out of the bedroom.

Not only are these stimulating, but they give off electromagnetic energy.

7. Keep plants out of the bedroom.

Plants give us oxygen during the day but take it in at night, so they do not belong in the bedroom. Plants in the rest of the house are beneficial, though!

8. Cut out caffeine.

This may be obvious but so many people don’t make this connection.

9. De-clutter your bedroom.

Even under your bed. It helps clear the mind.

10. No heavy or violent shows

Even no video games before bed.

11. Exercise regularly.

Do that but not close to bedtime.

12. Have a good bedtime routine.

Once you find something you like, do the same thing each night.

1. Take a warm bath

2. Massage your forehead, back or feet with sesame, jojoba or olive oil. Add a drop of a calming essential oil for best results.

3. Have a hot drink. (Hot milk is not just an old wives tale. The sugar in it helps us sleep and the heat calms the nervous system. Herbal tea is good too.)

4. Meditate or pray before sleep. Clear your mind, focus on your breath or do my meditations  Imagine white light coming through your body three times.

5. Keep a notebook by your bed to write down “to do’s” or “worry’s” that might be filling your head.

6. Think of something positive and happy before bed. Take some deep breaths and think about a happy memory. Fill yourself with the joy of this memory.

7. Read or listen to music when you are having trouble clearing your mind.

8. If you are really struggling with a busy mind give it something to do. Such as, breathe and count, or walk through the scenes of a movie or TV show you just saw (make sure the theme is happy). Or take a tour of an old house/apartment that you lived or spent time in.

Get the printer friendly version of this hand out here: How To Get Better Sleep

 

How many hours a night do you get? And what helps you all get better sleep?


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27 Comments

nikky44

🙂
I have always struggled with sleep, it has never been easy, and can’t remember having more than 3 hours sleep not interrupted. Most of times when i wake up for whatever reason, it’s almost impossible to go back to sleep.
That is a very common problem in my surrounding due to the circumstances we have lived.
I have been awake now for more than 48 hours, but although tired, i’m not complaining as a part of it is by choice.
I know that sleeping is a must, but when not feeling well (anxiety, pain, anger….) it is hard to fall asleep, and when doing something that makes me happy, it’s even harder to decide to go to bed. If I’m reading a book, chatting with a friend, listening to music, I prefer to take advantage of those nice quiet moments that bring happiness than go to bed and surrender to the unknown.

Jodi Lobozzo Aman

“Unknown” as in nightmares? These come more when we are sleep deprived as they come with the anxiety that often comes with being sleep deprived. No wonder you feel tired as you are healing, your body is telling you it is time to sleep. Think of it as an act of caring for yourself than a surrender. One assumes you have control. It may be easier to swallow.

nikky44

Nightmares are one of the elements, but thanks God I don’t get them often, or let’s say i don’t remember them often. It’s also panic attacks, apnea, sobs and crying spells lately, and others. I have done a lot of things during my sleep that i wouldn’t do when I’m awake. I can admit things I would prefer to keep secret, I send messages, I write things, I say how i feel.

Nikky44

Why do nightmares and flashbacks come with real physical pain? I understand that a memory can bring back an emotion, but how to explain the physical memory. It feels so real. Thinking it is not real is like telling myself I am crazy. I am not just remembering it. It is real.

Jodi Aman

What goes on in the mind is very real.

Nikky44

Woke up after just one hour sleep with strong memories very clear. Things I had totally forgotten. But although I know in my heart it is the truth, I still think what if I was dreaming, but in case it was just a dream, it means those spots are still blank and empty as I often tried to remember and couldnt. Accepting that these memories happened cause anger. Considering they are not memories but just a dream i had now is confusing.

Dr. John A. Cianciola

Jodi,

Happy new year. Great article! It is interesting and informative. I will share this with my patients and take your advice myself.

John

Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Awesome, John! Thanks for reading it!

sgweaver03

Thank you Jodi!

mary carlino

You’re awesome!

Kelly Hashway

I go to bed around the same time and I always get up at the same time. I love my sleep. And I feel terrible if I nap–unless I’m sick. Then I need more rest, but even then I try to relax but not nap if I can.

Bridget

Keeping electronics out of the bedroom is a good one. I find myself waking up in the middle of the night and checking my email. At 2 AM. But I can’t stop! At least not until Dallas comes home:)

Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Of course you’d be checking, it’s your connection like virtually cuddling closer.

Brenda

As you read this email I found myself nodding yes, yes, yes, and then no, no, I shouldn’t do that.. I am mostly a good sleeper. I close my eyes and that’s all she wrote, except when I am struggling with my list of things I want to do ( always writing). It’s as you say the mind is going a mile a minute but the eyes and body are begging for a reprieve, which is where I am these days. I sometimes write up until the minute I need to go to bed (and do) but once there the mind is stilling typing away. I strive for seven hours a night. Your posts well timed for the start of the year when everything is fresh and we consider changing our routines.
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Debra

I find myself half-dreaming, seeing images of manuscripts, drafts, themes, etc. all night. Not the soundest sleep in the world, like when the numinous dreams come and you know they are meant to be recorded upon rising. But these dreams of late seem to be about something I’m trying to work through in my head.
Anyway, the advice here is well worth reading and heeding. Thanks.
Wishing you the happiest of New Year’s!
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inluvwithwords

Hi Jodi, I found you through Fi’s blog. I’m loving this post on sleep. My husband has always teased me about needing too much sleep, but I know what my body needs – and that’s a good eight hours. I particularly like your tip #6 about thinking of something happy as we go to bed. I look forward to trying that tonight.
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Thanks, Ruth, can’t wait to check you out!

Beverly Diehl

Assuming the “no electronics” rule doesn’t apply to my Kindle? I actually have pretty good sleep habits, EXCEPT… some nights I stay up too late to read or write blog posts. And then on the weekend I do catch-up naps.

The cat ensures I wake up at the same time every day, to feed her.
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Monica

I’m lucky if I get six hours a night. I have so much to do every day and writing consumes a lot of the time so I stay up as late as I can, squeezing the juice out of every minute possible, and then I fall into a deep sleep until 6 or 6:30 am when the dogs wake me. I will try to make it a resolution to get more sleep. Thanks for all the suggestions, Jodi!
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Jodi Aman

Sometimes focusing on one things is like meditation and you need less sleep. Is it like that for you?

lisa thomson

These are such great tips, Jodi. I didn’t realize the clearing out the bedroom would have an impact on sleep (i.e. under the bed). I find reading at bedtime always helps relax my body and mind. I begin to tune out worries and stresses of the day as I go into the characters and story details.
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Do you notice if you are organized it is easier to get your work done. It’s the same thing. Organization helps us settle our mind and we sleep better.

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