Sleep is so finicky

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We’ve all dealt with those days when we just feel so tired. And for no particular reason. You went to bed at the same time. You pretty much eat the same foods regularly. So what causes our bodies to be completely exhausted? Here are a few of my experiences.

  • Dogs. The first obvious sleep disruptor are my dogs. From taking up to much bed space to hogging my pillow my dogs sometimes rule my nights. And now that one of my mutts is 15 years young and often has restless nights my sleep deprivation has increased. It’s almost like having an infant. Except for the fact that I leave my dog home alone all day while I’m at work. Other than that, totally the same.
  • Mind. Okay, let’s get serious. Our minds have a way of never taking a break. It’s like that over ambitious friend you have that is always working, studying and working out. It is hard for us to shut off our minds so that we can get some much needed rest. I’ve experienced full blown anxiety attacks in my sleep. When I wake up I feel like I was facing my worst fears all night and could easily sleep for another 10 hours. You need to recuperate after an emotional ordeal like facing your fears.
  • Food. There are many opinions and eating before bed. Some say it is okay depending on what you eat. Other studies suggest not eating after 7pm (or a few hours before bed time.) I have a tendency to snack while watching TV. Who doesn’t? So I often have a late night snack while watching some guilty pleasures. As soon as the show is over, off to bed I go. I’m pretty sure that last spoonful of almond butter probably wasn’t a good idea at 10pm.
  • Sore muscles. Last night I just couldn’t get comfortable. My arms were already aching from that evenings workout. I tossed and turned and even had limbs go to sleep occasionally (but not in the way I needed them to go to sleep.) There are times when I get a tension headache while sleeping. I wake up with a sore neck and pounding headache. That is always a terrible morning. On those nights I think about people who are bed ridden and the terrible pain they must go through all of the time. Not something I would wish on anyone.
  • Sick. Now this is an obvious one. It’s often hard to sleep when you are not feeling well. Unless of course you are loaded up on over the counter meds and are knocked out. The other night I wasn’t so much sick as suffering from a mild case of sun poisoning. I was not sunburnt but I had spent the better half of the day in the sun. I felt super cold after showering so I bundled up in long sleeve pajamas and a big blanket. Well, the heat from the sun was trying to escape my body so I ended up drenched in sweat. That was a rough night because I kept switching back and forth from cold to hot.

I’m usually a great sleeper. I think that is why I am so affected by sleep deprivation. I can’t go more than one night without adequate sleep. So, in an attempt to minimize these sleep disruptors I have come up with the following solutions.

  • Dogs. Make them sleep on the floor. There, that was easy. Just kidding. I could never do that. I enjoy the snuggles too much. So for this one I am just going to have to sleep through it. 🙂
  • Mind. Keep a journal handy and right before bed write down everything that is swirling around in your head. It can be words, a picture or even a doodle. What ever it takes to pluck those thoughts out of the cycle and stick them into time out. You’ll come back to them tomorrow. Don’t worry, they’ll still be there. With today’s tech world maybe you could even send yourself an email with your smart phone. Or start a blog of late night thoughts…
  • Food. Be present in the evenings. Don’t mindlessly stuff food in your face while staring at the TV for hours. Remember, you are preparing for the next day and all the obstacles you are going to tackle. You need to make sure you are in top condition. Try brushing your teeth when you are done with dinner. This might deter you from grabbing that last minute snack. Or, pick a different activity to do right before bed other than watching TV. Maybe read a book or sit outside with the dogs.
  • Sore muscles. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and after a workout. Always stretch your muscles whenever they feel tight. Ease into it and make sure you don’t over do it. If you are really sore stretching every couple hours and keep your muscles lose and prevent them from cramping up. Other than that there is not much you can do about being sore. Just enjoy the results of an intense workout and know that it’s all worth it in the end.
  • Sick. Again drink plenty of fluids. Don’t over do the medication. And allow yourself ample time to rest. Turn off the TV and the lights and any other distraction and allow your body heal. It can be hard to unplug and a lot of people feel like lounging around watching TV is enough. But to really give your body the energy to focus on getting better you need to eliminate all other activities.

I have practiced these solutions before and find them to be very effective. But it’s like working out, getting to the gym is the biggest challenge. At the end of a long day sometimes anything other than vegetable mode seems like a daunting task. But do yourself a favor and follow through on those good intentions you have. The you of tomorrow will be so thankful.

 

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