Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sleep, Maggie, Sleep - Collaborative Sleep Effort

One of my favourite bedrooms I've ever had.

I was over at The Gift the other day when a post on sleep caught my eye.

Sleep is so crucial to my mental and physical well being - yet folks skimp out on it often. In a world of artificial lighting and 24/7 entertainment that I can review in my bed until the early hours of the morning (laptop) I've had to take some action in making sure I get the full 7-9 hours I need.

Indeed, like with many things, I have a sleep routine I treasure and try to uphold. By keeping it up, my body does a lot better job at falling asleep and I get at least an hour of relaxed peace in the evening.

I also realized that a lot of my sleep habits have been derived from other people. I wonder if I've ever even told those folks about how they influenced my every night. Here's a few influences:

I've known the dear Jenny for some 9 years now. Back in the day, sleep-overs with her were definitely a high point for me.

Jenny taught me about changing your underwear right before bed (too much information? doesn't matter). It made so much sense! Does everybody do that?

Anyways, why would you want to go to sleep in lived-in underwear. Putting on a fresh pair as I'm pulling on my pyjamars is definitely a refreshing experience at night. In the morning, I'm also already set for the day.

She also taught me that sleeping with no pants on is much more comfortable than with pants where they get all twisty as you turn and dream on.

I was interviewing Tricia for the Shirts-n-Skirts website when she informed me that she slept with the window open when she slept at night.


And now I sleep with the window open most nights.

Yes, even when it's really cold, windows are open.

It makes the bed seem cozier, and I love the fresh air I get. Also, allowing the temperature of my body to drop a bit while trying to sleep helps induce sleep. Triple win!

It was naptime at Folklife and Kyle pulled out an bandanna and tied it around as a blindfold and put earplugs in his ears. I considered that quite unusual.

About a month later, I was folding up my handkerchiefs and bandannas before bed when I decided to see what it was like.

I tied it on.
And slept well.

What was great is, when I'm trying to fall asleep, sometimes I get distracted and don't realize my eyes are open. With the blindfold tied on, I can't get distracted and it is super-dark. Super-dark? That means faster sleep.

The Routine
The goal when going to bed is to have the lights out by 10:30 PM. That ensures plenty of time to rest, even if my body doesn't fall asleep right away.

7:00 PM

Stop eating. This gives my body plenty of time to digest before I sleep.

9:30 PM

Screens off. My laptop get's stored away in my closet or in another room. But what is key is it can't be accessable to me. The moment I get weak and pull it out, it's almost guaranteed I won't sleep for 30 minutes to an hour later than when I want to be asleep. It's important to have the screens off because it calms my mind, makes me aware of what I need to get done in my life, and tells my brain it's night time.

Quite music on. I listen to music every night and have since I was really young. Starting at the age of 7 or so, my dad made me a looped CD of the ocean to work as white noise because I was bothered by any noise in the house and couldn't stop listening. This is more than 10 years before they knew I had SPD. These days I listen to Julian Lloyd Webber (beautiful cello, Andrew's brother), Chris Rice (relaxing, rich hymns on the piano), Disney's Lullaby Album (first sleeping album I bought with my own money), and lately I've been listening to Secret Garden (got this one on a whim for a few dollars at St. Vinny's without knowing what it was - no regrets) as I get ready for bed or in the morning, but not to fall asleep too.

9:40 PM

Brush teeth.
Wash face.
Put on pyjamars.

9:50 PM

Make a cup of tea.

Turn off main light in bedroom. Just bedside lamp is on.

Ideally by this time I am all ready for bed and my windows are open. With this time until 10:30 PM, I often tidy up my room a bit, sort things out, read the Bible or other books, wiggle and stretch, and mentally prepare for the next day.

10:30 PM

Start sleeping album over or choose the right album to fall asleep to.
Check alarm clock (I wake up to either classical music or NPR).
Lotion or coconut oil and chapstick.
Sips of tea.
Squish lavender between fingers - inhale.
Tie on bandanna.

With this entire routine, sleeping hasn't become a problem for me. I've made sleep a priority and my body is grateful for it. On the weekends, my routine does slip (my regular dances go till 10:30, 11:00, and 1 AM) but during the week I do what I can to make sure I can start calming down at 9:30 (this makes sure that friends know that I need to be back home by then).

With ADHD and SPD combined, I have a busy body and a busy brain. It used to take me forever to sleep and it wasn't something I enjoyed. It's now that I'm older that I'm taking complete control of my habits so I can live at my full potential.

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