Infographic Courtesy of Leesa
Few things are more important when it comes to mental, physical, AND emotional health than getting the right amount of sleep. If you doubt it – think back to the last time you went a few nights (or even one) with interrupted sleep or when you were shortchanged on the number of hours of sleep you enjoyed. Maybe it was a barking dog, snoring spouse, crying baby, or too much wonderful Mexican food. Then again it could have been a brain that simply wouldn’t shut off.
Personally, that’s one of my least favorite sleep robbers.
Getting a Better Night’s Sleep
If you want to become more of a morning person, you have to get your bedtime routine in order. Below are a few suggestions for ripping the mask right off of some of the most common sleep bandits.
- Snoring Spouse. Most people simply cannot handle a snoring spouse. They poke, kick, stomp… pretty much acting out their own Shania Twain music video in the process. Everything BUT sleeping. People will try to “beat” their spouse to sleep – then, when that doesn’t work, they succumb to a night of struggling. That, of course, is anything but restful. Sometimes snoring is actually a health issue. If the noise is what you’d consider “unGodly” and/or the snorer seems to sometimes be unable to take a breath, I’d recommend they see a doctor, to rule out sleep apnea or other breathing problems. If it isn’t health-related, they may simply be a loud sleeper! Breathing strips are available over the counter which may prove useful. If your snorer tries one and simply can’t sleep with it, have them try another. Also, OFTEN it’s as simple as having the right pillow. Seriously! Many snorers change their lawn-mower-roaring ways when they have the proper pillow. Experiment until you find one that helps. As for your own nerves in the meantime (why is it that things that’d register a 3 on our emotional scale hit a solid 12 in the middle of the night?!), don’t ever try to hold the snorer’s nose closed, cover their face, or anything drastic. The potential danger is in no way worth it. If you are flat out exhausted and they are in rare form, grab your pillow, blanket, and bear if you have one and head to the couch. The optimal situation would, of course, be to find yourself in a place where you were comforted by the snoring. After all, it means that the person who hung the moon and stars in your galaxy is right there with you – so close you could reach out and kiss them on the head. Try to do just that, then smile, roll over, and see if you can drift off to sleep. You never know until you try!
- Barking Dog. I once had a Basset Hound (Honey Bunn) that I loved to the moon and back. She did, however, have a nasty, nasty habit – she began barking in her pen around 10;00 at night and didn’t see fit to stop until around 12:00. Some dogs do this and I’m not sure why – I suspect it’s because they see the possums, raccoons, skunks, cats, and other adorable critters that come out at night. I began sleeping with both a fan AND the radio on. If you’ve ever heard a Basset Hound bark, you know why it took both to drown her out. These beautiful dogs have beautiful baritone barks – they just aren’t quite as lovely when you’re trying to sleep.
- Restless Mind. Don’t you hate to be thisclose to a dose only to have a thought start bouncing around your head?! I always ask it, “Where were you in the daylight?!” One way to keep this from happening is to plan out your next day earlier in the evening, then switch off the part of your brain that worries about “to do” lists. Focus on SLEEP and only SLEEP.
- Uncomfortable surroundings. Be sure your pillows, covers, sheets, and room temperature are satisfactory BEFORE lying down. Most people sleep best when the room is more cool than it is warm. I know I, personally, love the feeling of getting underneath covers “to get warm” as opposed to kicking off covers “to get cool” – that’s a miserable feeling! If it’s time to invest in a new pillow or covers, do so. Your comfort is worth it.
- Uncomfortable bed. If your bed and/or mattress leaves something to be desired, invest in a new one. Again, your sleep is so very worth it.
- Digestive Issues. A lot of people (myself included) sleep a LOT better if they cut off any and all eating for 3 hours before lying down. Whether you have GERD or reflux or not, it takes energy to digest and energy is the last thing you want going on at bedtime. Besides, you honestly never know when reflux issues or a good old fashioned stomach ache may hit – the less food you have inside you at the time, the better off you’ll be.
- Restlessness and Jitters. These are almost always attributed to caffeine. And did you know that some de-caf products still have a trace amount of caffeine in them? You have to make sure it says caffeine free if you want to be completely free of the jitter bugs.
While each of the above can and possibly will help you eliminate your own problem areas when it comes to sleep, my personal favorite way to ensure a great night’s sleep has been the same since the first of my three beautiful daughters was born… have (and keep) a bedtime ritual and schedule. When we were raising our daughters, we often heard nightmares from other parents who referred to bedtime as “wartime.” Their stories made the hairs on my neck stand up straight: arguing, temper tantrums, stress levels through the roof, etc. They’d all be so angry and exhausted when 10:00 rolled around, the children would finally fall asleep, but the adults would just sit and fume.
We always avoided this “wartime” and kept peace in the home by establishing a bedtime ritual and schedule. Our girls knew what time bedtime was (depending upon their age) and they knew that an hour before that time, they were expected to have had their bath, dressed in their gowns or PJs, and settled in with a great book. When the clock read “bedtime,” they knew to put their bookmark in place (unless they were especially young, when a bookmark wasn’t called for!) and turn off their light. Then we would each come “tuck them in.”
Old school, right? Beautifully so.
Fast-forward to today. Our girls are grown and quite capable of putting themselves to bed, but my husband, our cats, and I still have a bedtime routine. After supper, clean-up detail, showers, and pajamas (well, our cats don’t actually wear pajamas… I’d put them on them if they allowed it but they’re dreadfully against the idea), we head to the den. We either watch a baseball game (usually our much loved St. Louis Cardinals), something on the History Channel, an old John Wayne Western, something “history-related,” or anything (and I mean anything) concerning Bigfoot. Try not to judge us. We automatically know when it’s “almost that time” and we (even the cats) head off for the bedroom.
Routine is a beautiful word.
Becoming More of a Morning Person
I suspect that the reason most people aren’t morning people is that they stay up too late the night before OR they don’t get enough sleep. If you take care of these things, you’ll be well on your way to being more at peace with mornings.
Another thing that may help is to have a favorite breakfast (even a smoothie) that you enjoy so much you look forward to it. If it’s something that you ONLY have in the morning, this special treat might just be enough to get you a little extra excited about mornings in general.
Some people also watch morning news shows with their morning coffee and they look forward to this routine. I don’t enjoy news (especially these days) nearly well enough to do that.
My secret for loving mornings is this: Bulletproof Coffee. It is the only time of the day I enjoy this delicious drink, so it makes mornings even more special. I also happen to love feeding birds, squirrels, and our outside cats (in addition to the inside ones, of course!) in the morning and watching them gives me a lot of joy. The birds never sound as lovely as they do in the mornings. Even when it’s a little chilly outside, I’ll crack the window in the morning just to hear them sing.
After my husband heads off for work, the cats and I go about our wonderful morning routine of reading (Bible first, then Agatha Christie and historical non-fiction… priorities, and all that). When the clock says “get to work, girl,” I grab my cup of coffee number 2 or 3 (the cup of Bulletproof Coffee just warms me up) and head for my computer to start my day.
Can you tell that I pretty much cherish my mornings? I really do!
If you want a healthier life, you really have got to make sure your sleep is as sweet as a strawberry sundae.
One final suggestion: Many things in life are only “bad” because we kid about them being bad or because we’ve heard all of our lives that they ARE bad. We kind of work up a negative reputation for them and that’s not fair… or mentally healthy. I’m from the school of thought that the fewer things you have in your world that you view negatively, the better. Mondays, vegetables, school, mothers-in-law, stepmothers (why is it always mothers?!?!)…. these are things that are not even remotely bad – they’ve simply been “labeled” bad by jokes, memes, and water cooler talk.
Try to see mornings in a new light – a beautiful bright light!
~ Joi (“Joy”)
The infographic above is from Leesa (you’ve probably seen their adorable commercials). If you want to learn more about Leesa mattresses, you should check out this Leesa Mattress Review. I actually had ZERO idea that Leesa Mattresses could be found on Amazon. Game-Changer.