Sleep was so much easier when you were young and someone else took care of the details in your life. As you get older, the issues cluttering our Wild World such as homework overload, babies that won’t sleep, tomorrow’s big meeting, and bills get in the way of your slumber. Sleep deprivation is brutal. It can lose you friends, memory, and opportunities while handing you extra weight, added troubles, and a grumpy disposition. Getting back on the right foot with sleep can be difficult; especially if you’ve become accustomed to staying up all night. Reminiscent of your mama’s lullaby, some people suggest soft music to help lull you to sleep. We don’t know that lullaby, but the following playlist might help you get your sleep pattern back on track.
Rehab (Amy Winehouse): Changing your lack of sleep lifestyle is going to take some commitment and lifestyle changes. Generally, the changes sound like easy fixes. As you work to apply them to your life, you realize they take concerted effort and commitment and you’ll find yourself singing, “No, no, no.” Ignore your inner rebel and make the commitment for the next 60 days. Your life is guaranteed to change for the better. Your grades will increase, your co-workers will like you, your weight will drop, and your baby just might start sleeping through the night. (Okay, most babies will do that whether you follow this advice or not. But whatever.) If at the end of 60 days – if life isn’t better – get back to it and ignore this list.
Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad - Baby We Can Talk All Night (Meatloaf): No. As a matter of fact, you cannot. If you have an important conversation that needs to take place, don’t start it at 11:00 p.m. or it will surely go badly. Strike up that important conversation while you finish up the dishes. Bedtime should be stress-free and angst-free. Wait until tomorrow to solve the world’s problems or initiate life altering conversations.
The No No Song (Ringo Starr): Yes, successful sleep means having to learn to say no. No to alcohol and caffeine after dinnertime, that is. You also need to cut tobacco out of your life to get optimal sleep. The half-life of caffeine is approximately 6 hours (depending on how you metabolize stuff). This means only 50% of it is out of your system 6 hours after you consume it. It continues to remove about 50% of what is left every 6 hours. Alcohol has a steady-state metabolism meaning it leaves your body, in total, more quickly than caffeine. However, recent research shows that even one small nightcap will interrupt your deep sleep. Deep sleep is when your body regenerates, heals, and strengthens your immune system. Alcohol may help you doze off more quickly but denies you the deep sleep your body needs. Nicotine is a different story, the nicotine itself metabolizes out of your system after 6 hours; leaving your body to wake you for more. And we aren’t even talking about the other chemicals present in cigarettes that could be messing with your sleep.
All the Small Things - Turn the Lights Off, Carry Me Home (Blink-182): Develop a routine that clues your brain in to the fact that bedtime is approaching. Your mama didn’t make that one up. Every parent knows that bedtime is smoother if you’re mentally prepared for the event. Establish a soothing routine and start it 45 minutes before bedtime. A suggested routine:
- Take a soothing bath or shower. Your body temperature falls as you prepare to drift off to sleep. Taking a bath will artificially raise your body temperature. When you leave that steamy, warm bathroom, your body experiences a similar sleep-inducing drop in body temperature.
- Turn off all electronics and dim the lights. Abandon your television, forsake your cell phone, snooze your laptop, and ditch your iPad. The world can wait until tomorrow; you are closed for business. Exposing yourself to bright overhead lights and electronic sunshine impedes your ability to sleep.
- Remove potential distractions. Let the dogs take a last potty break, make sure your children are comfortably asleep - you want to be winding down so your body knows it’s bedtime. If there is noise you can’t control turn on a fan to create white noise.
Oh No – I Can’t Sleep (Lionel Richie & the Commodores): You’ve done everything you can to reboot your sleep routine but you still find yourself staring at the ceiling in the dark. What can you do? We have a few suggestions:
- Don’t allow yourself to nap until you have had two nights of decent sleep.
- If you have a television in your bedroom, move it out. Both sleep and sex are better without the television.
- Turn on a bedside lamp and read something light until you feel sleepy.
- Make yourself a glass of warm milk. The L-tryptophan really does help induce drowsiness. (Don’t let it boil or it tastes really bad.)
- Have someone you love massage your feet with a little lotion – this is the secret weapon of the sleep deprived.