Four Steps to Better Sleep: One Woman’s Journey
Guest Post by Liz Greene
I love sleep. It’s wonderful, mysterious, and all too often, elusive. One of my favorite quotes on sleep comes from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Omnipotent alien Q has just become human, and is experiencing life through new eyes:
Q: I’ve been entirely preoccupied by a most frightening experience of my own. A couple of hours ago, I realized that my body was no longer functioning properly. I felt weak, I could no longer stand. The life was oozing out of me, I lost consciousness.
Capt. Picard: You fell asleep.
I envy the ease of which Q slipped into sleep, as it’s been a lifelong struggle for me. However, as I’ve battled the various villains that have kept me from a restful slumber, I’ve found chinks in their armor – weaknesses that have helped me to conquer insomnia.
You might be surprised to learn that the temperature of your room can have a marked effect on the quality of your sleep. According to Dr. Christopher Winter, “Sleeping in a hot environment has been shown to increases wakefulness and decreases slow wave sleep.”
I keep my bedroom at about 65 degrees (experts recommend between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit) and sleep with only my comforter. This allows me to switch between being fully and partially covered without getting tangled in my sheets and waking myself up.
Turn Out the Lights
I have a thing for the dark. Mainly, it helps me sleep. When I head to bed, I make sure all the lights in the house are out. Even the smallest amount of light peeking under my door can keep me up. In the summer, I use a sleep mask to block out the evening sun.
I used to have an alarm clock, but I tossed it. The blue LED display was disrupting my melatonin levels, making it harder to get to sleep. Even my laptop finds itself in exile when the sun goes down, as its indicator lights are shockingly bright.
I’m a light sleeper, and sometimes I feel like the ambient noises of my house are conspiring against me. When I was a child, my father had sleep apnea and even from two rooms away, his snoring was enough to keep me up all night. Now, it’s the click as the dishwasher ends its cycle, or the sound of the wind through the trees.
However, with the insane witchcraft that is white noise, I can make my room practically soundproof. I use a combination of a white noise app for my iPhone and a box fan (which also helps to keep the temperature down!)
One of the most helpful things in my war against insomnia has been to develop a nightly routine. About an hour and a half before bedtime, I turn off the television and check Facebook and email one last time. Then I spend an hour reading or working on a jigsaw puzzle to relax my mind. After I remove my makeup and wash my face, I switch off all the lights in the house, turn on my fan, and crawl into bed with a book. Half an hour later, I set my alarm, turn on the white noise machine, and close my eyes. I’m usually out within ten to fifteen minutes.
When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing how all the little things can add up to ruin a good night’s sleep. I’m glad I’ve found a way to counteract these pint-sized problems – because if there’s one thing I can say for sure, it’s that being tired all the time is a real drag.
Liz Greene is a writer and former preschool teacher from Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene