Finally Get to Sleep

SleepSleep. It’s the elusive thing we drool about like we used to drool over chocolate cake and celebrity crushes. But the more we hear about its importance (e.g. a deficient amount causes everything from diabetes to heart disease not to mention exacerbating anxiety and depression.), the harder it is to surrender to slumber.

Insomnia has always been an wanted visitor in my house. But with two little kids, it seems ever present. The fear of inadequate sleep and having to take care of them turns nighttime into a battle. I worry about having enough energy to catch up after them. I worry that I will never heal from my illness. And then it’s morning and my fears have come true.

If you’re like me struggling with sleep, wanting it, but not knowing how to get it, I’ve gathered a few tips from experts. Let me know if you like it, tried it and if it helps.

This Very Well article talks about everything on sleep and insomnia. Scroll down to get to the good part-actual treatments for sleep. There are things there you might have already heard of like naps, aromatherapy and sleep environment, but there are a few I’ve never heard of. Click on chronotherapy, for example, and find out how delaying sleep by two to three hours can actually be beneficial or sleep restriction, restricting how long you’re actually in bed can increase your sleep efficiency.

I also recommend listening to Jeff Goins podcast The Portfolio Life, in case you’re not already. While he talks about a lot of relevant topics for creatives, this one in particular addresses sleep. In it, he interviews health and sleep expert Shawn Stevenson about the critical importance of sleep, and how to get it. If you’re a busy mom who doesn’t have time to listen to the whole thing, here are the highlights:

  1. Exercise in the morning. Even 5 minutes is enough to get you to sleep better at night.
  2. Eliminate caffeine or limit it to the morning. The effect of caffeine can last up to 6 hours after you drink it.
  3. Turn off electronics before bed. Research shows the light from it shuts down melatonin, which you need to get a restful night’s rest. There is a software called f.lux, which can help block out the blue glow from your computer.
  4. Create a bedtime routine. Yes it’s another thing we do for our kids, which we don’t do for ourselves. But consistent routine sets our mind and body for sleep.
  5. Your gut can affect sleep. Digestion is imperative for restful sleep. There are several articles online on how to clean up your gut.

Arianna Huffington published a book called, “The Sleep Revolution” and Shawn Stevenson also has a book called, “Sleep Smarter.” I have yet to read these, but will be in my to-read cue. If you’ve read one or both, please let me know what you think.

Happy slumber!

 

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Quick and Simple Ways to Relax Now

With Larisa at Mom-O-Rama.

This past Sunday, I managed to accomplish something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time-divulge my secrets to help people relax. [You can read more about the event I spoke at here.]

It made me even more passionate about spreading my message. We’re all so eager to get physically healthy, but rarely do we devote time to our emotional health and wellness. Caregivers, parents, and burnt out professionals need to read this!

I promised a few moms who missed my Mom-O-Rama talk at HMSA this weekend that I would email them my relaxation tips and I wanted to share them with you here:

  • Slow down: I interviewed a health psychologist for this article and she said that by simply slowing down our breath we can return to a feeling of peace and relaxation.

TRY IT: One thing I discovered by accident is that by massaging your jaw with your second and third fingers you will automatically breathe deeper, and more consciously from your diaphragm. That type of deep breathing helps to trigger the relaxation response. An added plus is it feels good too!

  • Social support: We’ve become so reliant on social media and texting to be our primary forms of communication, but there’s something to be said about in-person interaction. Instead of tweeting or messaging a friend, schedule time to talk with them. Social support has been shown in research to help with almost anything you can think of, including stress. As human beings, we’re more dependent on our relationships than we think.

TRY IT: Schedule a date with a friend or make an attempt to share something about yourself with someone new. Connecting with someone about what’s important to us and how we genuinely feel can make us feel less isolated and alone.

  • Music: Music is by far, one of the simplest way you can transform a mundane activity into something extraordinary.

TRY IT: Pick a tune and play it while you’re doing the laundry, dishes or even while putting your kids to sleep. If you find something soothing, the music will help you focus on the moment. You might find, as I did, that it can turn washing dishes into a spa day.

  • Meditation: Meditation could simply mean focusing on this moment. I created one visualization exercise that’s fun and that helps to remind me that no matter what I’m going through, all is well right now.

TRY IT: Get comfortable in your seat or while lying down. Take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Imagine that every time you inhale you’re inhaling peace and relaxation. And when you exhale imagine you’re letting go of stress and tension. Now I want you to bring into your thoughts everything you’re currently stressed about. But imagine them as red balloons tied to you so that maybe one red balloon is worries over your kid’s academics, another is your concern for your parents’ health or your own financial well-being. For the next minute, just see in your mind’s eye every single red balloon you’re holding onto. Maybe you start to notice how they are each tugging at you. Maybe you notice your shoulders are inching up to your ears. Now for this moment, I want you to imagine letting each one go so that one red balloon turns into a small red circle into a dot until they disappear into the sky. Pretty soon, you’ve let them all go. Suddenly you feel your shoulders melting down from your ears, maybe your breath naturally deepens. Take another deep breath in and a deep breath out. Feel how good it is to realize that everything is all right in this moment. Stay here as long as you need to.

  • Color: Coloring is so stress relieving, adults are starting to do it too! In fact, it’s one of the most popular books these days on Amazon.

TRY IT: If you want to try it before you buy it, google free adult coloring pages or check out these pages on Pinterest.

  • Make a wish: Think about someone you love. Then, think about a wish you have for this person. I did this exercise at Oprah’s Live the Life You Want weekend in San Jose. She says the things you most wish for those you love are the things you most wish for yourself. But maybe you’re too focused and concerned on someone else to think of yourself. Let this be a reminder that you need to work on you too.

TRY IT: Whatever you wished for, make it a priority to help that dream come true.

I don’t think it’s possible to live a stress-free life. At least, that’s not the case for me. But I think what’s more important is to find ways to bring peace even amidst the chaos. And we do that by prioritizing stress management in our lives. Do it, and you might discover as I did that you’ll not only be able to cope with things better, but you’ll enjoy your life more.

 

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