“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”
“What hath night to do with sleep?”
Sleep. It’s the great equalizer. With it, we become more energetic and creative; immunity soars. Without it, we all risk become mumbling automatons shuffling from one task to the next.
A couple of days ago, I was sorting through email and found myself unable to resist Marie Forleo’s latest video link. Why? Because she was interviewing the Arianna Huffington herself on my household’s summer theme: sleep – or in our case, lack of it.
She promised that if we needed more sleep but just couldn’t seem to find a way to get it, that this episode was for us.
Marie, that video was for me.
My family’s humble rancher rests in the center of my mother’s old neighborhood. It was comfortable with 2 young children – even with three and then four … when they were young. Who am I kidding? When we were all young. But now, with teens and young adults home from college for the summer and parents moving up in years (gulp – us), it’s bursting at the seams.
And no-one sleeps.
Kid #1 works a restaurant gig to pay for college and then works at home until 5 a.m. He programs hardware and produces videos to help other students learn things I can’t begin to understand. It’s like he was abducted in the lab and implanted with a foreign language and intelligence.
Kid #2 takes showers at 3 A.M. to save time “in the morning.” She writes children’s books and has seen all the Sharknado movies. Her best writer’s voice kicks in around 3 a.m. – after the shower.
Kid #3 is going through “Steam” withdrawal. If you haven’t heard of it, the video platform is all the rage these days if you discount Pokémon GO. Apparently it’s virtually impossible to have friends or conversations without it, and members participate in a virtual economy that includes trade, currency, and, yes, even a black market.
My husband and Kid # 4 just stay up with the rest. Why not?
And me? You’d think that having the hormones of a 49-year-old racing through my body would be bad enough. But I’m a copywriter and type A enough that I try to beat my own deadlines. I have giant wall charts and stay up late writing lists, finding the perfect words, and replacing lackluster adjectives.
Like my daughter, I transform after midnight. That’s when my sleepy-punchy voice overtakes the pseudo-academic robo-personality leftover from grad school.
So what’s a perimenopausal gal in a suburban rancher packed full of noise and electronics to do?
Open the email of course, and copy the video to the kids.
Did I watch it? Heck no – at least not at first. There was that Facebook ad to check and an email sequence to proof. But boy was I getting tired … and feeling just the slightest bit sluggish … no, make that semi-comatose … no, make that ZZZZZ …..
How do we make a change? First, according to Arianna, we need to change our minds about the importance of sleep. Once we do that, it will be easier to change our habits.
Ms. Huffington shared personal rituals along with scientifically proven methods to get more sleep. If you need more quality shut-eye, you’d be well-advised to try the following suggestions:
1 – Create your own transition ritual
Creating a transition ritual between our daytime activities and sleep is key to getting quality rest. We need to let our brains “slow down.” Think about what we did as children: Bath, pajamas, and story – then goodnight.
- An essential part of this is turning off electronic devices and taking them out of the bedroom. Try exiling them from your room five minutes before lights-out and working up in increments until you reach an hour of peaceful disconnect before your head hits the pillow.
- Instead of looking at a screen, read a physical book instead. Start with The Sleep Revolution. And you can’t offend the author if you fall asleep reading it. On the contrary, Ms. Huffington will consider it a personal victory.
- Try a hot bath. Think of it as a ritual to “wash away “the stresses and cares of the day. It will create a clear boundary between your time for work and time to recharge. Try epsom salts, low lights, or candles.
2 – End the day with gratitude
Arianna suggests giving “the closing scene of the day” to gratitude. Make thinking of all the things you are grateful for among the last things you think of at night. Write down your thoughts in a journal. Voice your gratitude to a partner – or even out loud to yourself.
3 – Have a sleep kit ready to use at home or on the road
Wherever you are, a portable sleep kit can be a godsend. It can help you fall asleep comfortably at home, grab a nap in between meetings, or rest peacefully in a plane.
Arianna suggests including the following. Try personalizing your kit with whatever creates relaxation magic for you:
- Sleep mask – go for comfort. How about a silky-pink sexy version that wraps your routine in luxury?
- Include noise-canceling earphones or ear plugs.
- Relaxing herbal teas – Try traditional standbys like chamomile and lavender.
- While Arianna removes her phone from her room, she keeps a dedicated “sleep iPod” nearby with meditations that help her fall asleep. She says these are perfect for those plane trips when you just can’t get to sleep. And some are so powerful, she doesn’t ever remember hearing the ends of them.
Well, there you have it. It’s possible to change your ways. Arianna did it, Marie did it, and you can too. But as Ms. Huffington stated in the interview, “We can’t be lazy about it.”
Just to prove I’m no slacker, I already have a drawer overflowing with confiscated electronics. My husband’s office has acquired yet another computer. I’ve even pulled out the tea and bought some fancy decaf. And I’m not writing another word after midnight.
Staying up too late writing? Let me do it for you. Contact me here.