guest post: go to sleep!

by Janetha on July 21, 2012

in guest posts

Hello everyone!

My name is Amanda and I blog over at

Diary of a Semi-Health Nut!

I am a dietetics student trying to live a semi-healthy life by balancing healthy food, fitness and a sweet tooth. I’m so excited to be guest-posting for Janetha, a fellow Blend Retreat attendee.  Actually, she helped coordinate the retreat, which I am so grateful for!  She is super friendly and kicked butt in all of our bootcamps.  (Yep, I watch/judge others when I workout…don’t we all??)

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Today’s topic is  sleep.

Source

 

You might be thinking, “Sleep?  What’s that?” Sleep is essential, but it is often the thing we forgo most when our schedules get busy. I have not always been the greatest at making time for sleep and it definitely took its toll.  After having a major breakdown that I found out was mostly sleep-related, I made it a priority to figure out how to get the best and most sleep possible each night.

There are many benefits to getting a good night’s rest.

One of the biggest improvements I see in myself is that my mood is significantly more positive when I am well rested.  Other slightly obvious benefits include improved concentration, alertness, and work performance.

 

It also benefits our motor skills.  I remember seeing a study on the news comparing an over-tired body with a drunk body.  One group of people were given enough alcohol to be legally intoxicated, where the other group was made to stay up at least 24 hours.  Each person in the group drove (on a closed course) in their respective states and found that being too sleepy is basically like driving drunk.  Scary.

Yet another benefit to getting good sleep is hunger control.  When you get the right amount of sleep, your hunger hormones are in balance.  When you are running short on sleep, the hormone that makes you feel satisfied with the food you eat goes down, while your hunger hormone goes up.  Crazy right?   (Source)

Are you convinced now that sleep is important for your physical and mental well-being?

My Formula for a Healthy Sleep Life

Planning + Environment + Routine = Healthy Sleep Life

Planning

One of the biggest things that I see in my own life and others’ is that if we don’t plan on getting to bed at a certain time or getting a certain amount of sleep, it doesn’t generally happen. I work some crazy hours between my three jobs.  I have to be to my coffee catering office at 6am Saturdays when I’m working the farmer’s market.  For my wing-n-beer job, I can be at work until midnight or later.  Planning my sleeping time is essential since I don’t sleep during the same hours every night.

I have even gone as far as putting the time I want to get ready for bed in my phone so that if I am out with friends or doing things around the house I realize that I need to be getting to bed soon. 
Environment
Sleep environment is different for every person, but it is important to find out what works for you.  I lived in the basement growing up for a number of years and out of that I learned to love sleeping in the dark and with background noise (falling asleep to the washer and dryer was like a lullaby).  I now have blackout curtains, which help very well when I need to get to sleep earlier in the summer when the sun is still out and also allows me to sleep in after my wing-n-beer job.
I also have a sound machine that I adore and take with me when I sleep in hotels.  Another small thing to pack for great hotel sleep is a sleep mask.  I was wary of buying one because I felt high-maintenance and makes me think of a snooty rich lady with her furry sleep mask in her lavish silk sheets.  If you like to sleep in the dark, these work great.
It doesn’t have to be like this…(Source)
If you are one who falls asleep to the television, you may want to know that studies show having light such as a tv on when you are sleeping doesn’t allow you a very deep sleep.  Plus the fact that some commercials blare at you…you could be waking up and not realize it.  My solution?  Put the television on sleep.   This also helps remind yourself that you are trying to get to sleep and not stay up watching tv shows or movies.  Along the same lines…try to watch something that you don’t care to see the end of.  The worst thing to do is put in a brand new movie at bedtime.  You will stay up the two hours watching it (or try to).
I know Gilmore Girls backwards and forwards so I can watch them at bedtime. :-)
Along the lines of electronics…your phone.  Yes, it is awesome how popular you are with all the Facebook and Twitter notifications, e-mails and texts…but how can you fall asleep when you’re checking your phone every 5 minutes.  I have a “sleep” setting on my phone where it doesn’t even so much as vibrate for Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.  I have it vibrate once for a text and the ringer is on low (in case someone really does need to get ahold of me).
Something else that might keep you up…your alarm clock.  That glowing light that tells you that you really really should be sleeping right now.  Just turn it to face the wall.  Trust me, you don’t need to know it’s 2am when you wake up to go to the bathroom.
Another key to a good sleeping environment is to keep your room (or at least your bed) for sleeping only (okay and other bed activities….you know what I mean).   You shouldn’t be on your laptop or do work projects in your bedroom or on your bed.  You want to feel relaxed when you walk into your room…not overwhelmed or stressed.  I only use my bedroom for sleeping and getting dressed.  I keep my laptop and homework out of there.
Also, if you get anxious at night about things that need to be done the next day, keep a pad of paper and pen next to your bed and jot down your thoughts, then leave them until the morning.
Routine
Having a bedtime routine can also be helpful, but this also depends on the person.   If as a child you had a bedtime routine, and couldn’t sleep unless you went through all of the steps (bathtime, reading a book, being rocked to sleep), you may not be falling asleep as quickly because as an adult, you simply threw out having one.
This can be as simple as getting ready an hour before you want to be sleeping and reading in bed with only a lamp on.  You could also get ready for bed and watch your last tv shows in the dark (making sure to stop at a certain time!). 
I would not recommend reading the Hunger Games series before bed…you won’t put it down!!
I like to get all ready and into my pjs, then have a bedtime snack if I’m hungry (I cannot sleep if I’m hungry), bedtime tea and either read or watch something in my room.
Oh and don’t drink caffeine at bedtime.  That is never ever a good idea. ;-)
This whole sleep thing has been a learning process for me, but it has been so worth it!   
I encourage you to work on some of these things for a great sleep life! :-)
*~Amanda aka Semi-Health Nut~*
I’d love to connect with you!  Check out my Diary of a Semi-Health Nut blog, follow on Twitter, “like” on Facebook, or follow me on Pinterest!
Questions: 
What is your biggest obstacle to getting restful sleep?
What is a movie/show you have watched so many times you could recite it in your sleep?

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Lindsay @ Lindsay's List July 21, 2012 at 8:09 pm

LOVE Amanda!! And I’m with you – sleep is VITAL! I have a sound machine too – well actually, I’m too cheap to buy a sound machine. I have a fan that makes a lot of noise.

Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut July 22, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Haha LOVE YOU!

The fan is an excellent sound machine…always had one going in our room at my dad’s growing up! :-)

Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner July 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm

What an amazing post, Amanda! Thank you for all of the time and effort you put into this! :) I’ve been needing to get to bed earlier. I was doing really well during the school year, but lately (since I don’t have to get up early in the morning) I’ve been staying up pretty late. Thank you for reminding me of the benefits of getting to bed earlier — I really needed that kick in the right direction. :)

Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut July 22, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Thanks Kathleen! Glad to have helped! :-)

I hear ya on the staying up late when you don’t actually have to get up in the morning. Especially in the summer I have to force myself to get to bed at a “decent” hour!

Kim@hungryhealthygirl July 21, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Very informative post! I have to sleep with a fan on for background noise. I totally agree with no reading any of the Hunger Games books before bed. ;)

Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut July 22, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Haha no Hunger Games! You will read the WHOLE BOOK! ;-)

meg July 21, 2012 at 11:43 pm

Great post and very well organized! I’ve read that about an hour before going to bed, it’s a good idea to turn off or dim the lights which helps your body relax. I like to take a bath before bed, it’s so relaxing!

Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut July 22, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Thanks Meg! And yes on especially stressful days, bath before bed is amazing. :-)

Katie @ Talk Less, Say More July 22, 2012 at 7:12 am

Yay sleep! I’m such a believer in getting good sleep. My friends often make fun of me because I’ll go to bed at 9 or 9:30 but I wake up at 4:30a to hit the gym before work. AND I NEED MY SLEEP! :)

Lisa July 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I love this post! I am learning so much about my sleep patterns, and have been talking to a doctor about this topic regarding my health.
I didn’t realize before how sleep was so important, and I would only go with 4 hours of sleep a night.
It scares me how many people will drive while sleepy, imagine losing control of the vehicle and harming others because you didn’t get enough rest.
Its weird because when I am over tired, I definitely feel a sort of foggy hungover feeling. I can see how that is very true.
Awesome post! Thanks Amanda!

Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut July 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Thanks Lisa! Sleep is absolutely essential to all of our body functions. I also find this subject fascinating (thus the long post!) and love learning more about sleep.

Hope you are getting more than 4 hours a night now!! :-)

Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut July 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Thanks Janetha for letting me take over your blog for a day! :-)

Sam @ Better With Sprinkles July 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Love my sleep…I’m definitely a “sleep 7-8 hours every night or I will be extremely grumpy” sort of girl.

My biggest obstacle is definitely my laptop…I can always find something to look at online (I’m looking at you, Pinterest) that has me telling myself “Just 5 more minutes” way to many times.

Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut July 23, 2012 at 11:40 am

Oh I definitely feel ya there!

RainStorm July 24, 2012 at 2:42 am

A lot of very useful tips and advice. My main issue is that when I’m busy or stressed, I either wake up a lot or dream insanely manic dreams that leave me feeling un-rested :( Any advice on calming the brain to get better quality sleep?

Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut July 24, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Hmm this is something that I have experienced as well. Having a notepad next to my bed to write things down that are either bothering me or that I have to do tends to help. I also find falling asleep to a much watched movie helps me to not focus on what is stressing me out but the movie to an extent as I drift off. (remember to put the tv or dvd player on “sleep”)

To be very transparent with you, when I have nightmares, I pray to get back to sleep and to have good dreams. This seems to work for me!

Hope this helps!

RainStorm July 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I have a similar habit of reading very familiar books befOre drifting asleep :) Prayer seems like a very good idea too – thanks!

Bria @ West of Persia July 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I really never realized what a difference adequate sleep makes until I started FORCING myself to get it. I was only “off” by an average of just over an hour per night. Wow, huge diff! Better moods, more productive, better at the job and in life in general. Glad you’re reminding folks via this post.

Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut July 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Yes! Isn’t it weird how even the amount of hours each night can make a difference?? If I get 9 hours..I am sooo groggy! 6 hours or less and I am a zombie. 7-8 hours seems to be my perfect sleep time. :-)

Janetha July 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I have never had a problem with sleeping–I am that girl who can sleep for 12 hours and then go back to bed.. but I definitely don’t always make the time to do so. Thanks for all these great tips on sleep! And thanks for helping me out while I was gone! xoxo

Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut August 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Just saw this post today! Thanks for having me and the thank you note was SO CREATIVE!! :)

Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut August 26, 2012 at 2:16 pm

And when I say post I mean “comment” lol

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