Resolution with a Purpose - Week 3 - Sleep

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Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
-Ben Franklin

Now that we have completed our assessments and identified our purpose, it's time to consider S.P.A.C.E. (Sleep, Presence, Activity, Creativity, and Eating). These are the 5 areas that will give us the energy and willpower to reach our purpose.

Each of the next 5 weeks will focus on one of these areas to help us better understand how they influence our well being and what we can do to start increasing the attention given to each area.

We will begin with SLEEP.

Simple Tips for Improving Your Sleep

phone in bed

Your Behaviors:

  • Your bedroom is a special room: it's the sleeping room. Not for television, e-mailing, video games or for the many other technologies that have invaded this sacred space.
  • Computers and other screens emit a blue light that suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Ideally you should turn them off at least an hour before bedtime.
  • You may think that alcohol makes you sleep more easily. Unfortunately, going to sleep drunk produces what has been likened to a series of minihangover events through the night. Normal sleep cycles are interrupted, leaving you drained the next day.
  • For that matter, try to limit how much you drink of anything before bedtime, to minimize late-night bathroom trips. Sometimes these can't be helped, but of course it's good to limit the number of times you need to get up.
  • Melatonin. This hormone can help you fall asleep quicker and wake up refreshed. It's cheap, and you can buy it over the counter at any pharmacy.
  • Physical activity is good for sleep, but not if it's too close to bedtime. Your body gets revved up right after activity, and you want to be calm before going to bed.
  • Don't go to bed hungry-the siren song of the refrigerator can be hard to tune out.

Your Environment:

  • Unless you work the night shift, try to get plenty of natural light during the day. Then keep things dark at night. This supports the circadian rhythm: the internal clock that regulates your wake-sleep cycle.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, comfortable, and cool.
  • Try turning off the sound, and even the vibrator, on your phone. You may not be consciously aware that those little beeps and buzzes are actually disrupting your deeper sleep patterns, but they may be.
  • Have pets? They may be your best friend, but that doesn't mean you should be sharing a bed with them. When they're restless (and they generally are), you're restless. They also generate heat-another factor that might be keeping you awake.
  • Earplugs help. Not only do they limit external noise, they also magnify the sound of your breath, helping you focus on your rhythm of breathing instead of your hectic life.
  • Sleep experts suggest keeping your room between sixty and sixty-seven degrees Fahrenheit. Try nudging the thermostat down a tad and see if it leads to better sleep.
  • It may be time for a new pillow. Unlike the bad old days, when the only options seemed to be marshmallow and cinder block, pillows now come in a bewildering variety of shapes, sizes, and levels of firmness. Test-drive a few and don't give up until you find the perfect match for your head, neck, and back.

Your Emotions:

  • Push distractions out of your mind by thinking about something upbeat about your previous or upcoming day. Start with your morning and slowly, meticulously work your way through all the minute details of the day. Sound boring? That's the point.
  • Stop your mind's buzzing in bed by listening to white noise (sound energy evenly distributed across the audio spectrum). And yes, there's an app for that. Just search for "white noise" in your app store. It's like the sound of the ocean, the wind in the tress-a constant humming or droning sound that masks distractions and eases your mind.
  • Try curling your toes: hold for a few seconds, then uncurl them. This exercise helps to relax your muscles and diverts your attention from whatever is keeping you up.
  • Control your breath by inhaling softly through your nose through a count of four, holding it through a count of seven, and exhaling completely through a count of eight. And repeat. And repeat.

How much should we sleep?  We normally need seven to eight hours in a twenty-four hour period. Studies have shown that too little or too much sleep will effect performance, concentration, energy, and willpower. Naps count. If you are not getting what you need during night sleep, a nap can help you get to that seven to eight hour goal.


Why do we sleep? If sleep were not important, we would have evolved to eliminate that need.

Sleep has multiple phases with very unique functions. As you transition into sleep (hypnogogic) and transition out of  sleep (hypnopompic), many creative ideas are generated. Many great minds have come up with ground-breaking ideas during these phases and recommend keeping a note pad next to your bed to capture these ideas.

Early in your sleep you experience slow-wave sleep. This is where the rest and repair of the body occur. Growth hormone is released and suppression of cortisol occur. Cortisol is our 'stress' hormone. This suppression helps our immune system.

REM (Rapid Eye Movement) comes next. This is where we experience dreams. During this phase we take facts and skills and create memories. This is a crucial phase of sleep that begins a few hours into sleep.

Is it nap time yet???