On Sleep

{Sweet lofts by Suzie Beezie; Richard Leo Johnson, Photographer}

Most of us have heard it before – getting the proper amount of sleep leads to all manner of riches: better health, improved mood, increased memory. (For the uninitiated, check out Arianna Huffington’s TED Talk: How to Succeed? Get more Sleep). While the benefits are undeniable, knowing doesn’t always translate into doing. I say I’m going to get more sleep… but instead, I read, I watch movies, I clean. I can always find something else (and seemingly more important) to do. The feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day may be trite, but it’s true.

I’ve read articles about what to do to get more sleep, and I’m succeeding at the small stuff:

  1. Make sure your bedroom is dark. Check! I wear a face mask as needed.
  2.  Exercise most days. Check! This has more of an energizing effect for me, but it’s on every sleep-list, so I may as well acknowledge my compliance.
  3. No caffeine after XPM. I’ve read everything from 3PM to 7PM – here’s where everyone’s body and caffeine tolerance comes into play. While I feel I’m less affected by the occasional Diet Coke, my intake tends to be primarily in the morning.

There are, of course, some areas for improvement:

  1. Keep your bedroom cool. Generally, I do well here. I’m part polar bear and would keep the place just warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing were I left to my own devices. However, as we transition to Spring (or the Chicago version thereof) I suppose I could relinquish my beloved duvet and use a lighter, more weather-appropriate covering. Before the onset of Summer, we are replacing the ceiling fan in the bedroom as the current one died (and was heinous, so no big loss).
  2. Reduce screen time an hour before bed. No TVs, no computers, no Blackberries, no phones. Limiting TV isn’t a problem (as we don’t have one) but I do spend quite a bit of time in front of a computer. Time to switch to a book prior to bedtime. I’ll also need to kick my habit of checking my work email before bed. I like to check in to ensure things are humming along smoothly. However, I’d be willing to make the sacrifice in the name of better shut-eye.

These improvement areas will be my goals for May as I focus on better health and mindset.

Yes, I did just publicly declare that my goals for the month are to put the duvet into storage and read books after 10PM. Baby steps.

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About Helena

Helena lives in Chicago with her boyfriend and two cats. Her boyfriend thinks she's awesome. Her cats agree.

Posted on May 4, 2011, in Miscellany and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. You’re so right! I tend to feel guilty for sleeping “too much”: going to bed early, or sleeping in on the weekends. But I’m learning to listen to my body’s needs instead of listening to how much sleep I’m “supposed” to get. Everyone’s different. I try to sleep in (no alarm clock) at least once a week.

  2. I highly, highly recommend Tim Ferris’ “The Four-Hour Body.” Not just because of the diet/exercise tips (my boyfriend is doing the slow-carb diet, and I am going to…as soon as I eat all the pasta my friend made me). Anyway, he has an entire chapter on sleep that bears reading (and re-reading).

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