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How many of you lay awake at night, tossing and turning, unable to sleep? How many of you flip flop around like a fish out of water, and check that clock… 1:17Am, 3:27Am, 4:49Am, 6:30AM…..BEEP BEEP BEEP. Your alarm is ringing, time to wake up!! I am getting tired just writing about it!

The truth is for many, sleep deprivation is a major issue. 

We all know how it feels when you’re lying awake in bed trying to fall asleep, and your mind is racing. Thoughts are coming from everywhere, and although your body is lying quite still, your mind is running an Ironman marathon.  It’s almost as if you’re thinking 100 times faster at night than you do during the day.

This is the way it may play out for you. You’re laying in bed, frustrated, forcing your mind to not think. “I just need to get to sleep… If I fall asleep in 10 minutes, I’ll have 4 hours left… I better get to sleep now… Tomorrow I can’t forget to make a haircut appointment for the three kids… I hate my job… How I’m going to tell my girlfriend she disappointed me…” and the list of worries goes on and on.

So how do you stop it?

I have to say that for me, I thankfully do not suffer with sleep issues. And, I’m not bragging, ‘cuz I have a list of things I struggle with, as does every person. But, for some reason, when I actually get into bed and close my eyes, it’s usually for the night. And unless I’m awoken by a little person living in this house, it’s pretty good here on my end.

My husband, however, is cyclically a different story. Most often he has good restful sleep, but occasionally he suffers with sleep deprivation. In the down cycles, it sort of goes something like this. We get into bed together. Watch a little TV. We both fall asleep. Starting at 1:30am, he awakes, usually for the night, and starts with the flip flopping. The bed is shaking. He can’t sleep. I beg him not to watch TV or turn on his iPhone in the middle of the night, because it keeps me up too, and I figure two exhausted parents is worse than one! He then might leave to watch TV in the den. Then, we reunite somewhere around 4am, and our bed starts hopping at 6:30am, when the mini squad enters. Our day begins.

So, before going over how to calm your mind for a restful sleep, I’m gonna tell you the bad stuff that you probably already know. These awful symptoms of sleep deprivation– they’re no joke. And they have physical and mental repercussions. Besides lack of sleep effecting our ability to think, to handle stress, and to maintain a good and healthy immune system, it actually kills. I’m not trying to scare you. Sleep is so important to our overall health, that when a study was conducted on rats in a laboratory, the lab rats that were denied the chance to rest, died within two to three weeks. Yikes!

More scary statistics; all your lack of shut-eye time can be causing you depression, heart disease, slurred speech, hypertension, irritability, tremors and slower reaction time. It’s also making you age, ladies.

photo credit: goodrelaxation.com
photo credit: goodrelaxation.com
Before you panic, as a certified life coach, here are 10 useful tips to getting a restful sleep:

  1. Try and maintain somewhat of a regular sleep pattern. Our bodies have a natural clock and a regular sleep schedule, so a regular wake time in the morning strengthens the cycle. It helps the onset of sleep at night.
  2. Your bed is not an office. The only purpose of bed is for sleep and sex. DON’T use it as a workspace for sorting out your papers and projects. You should get into bed with the feeling of calm and relaxation. Not with a feeling of anxiety.
  3. Exercise regularly. But don’t exercise late at night, as it raises your body temperature and makes you more alert.
  4. Diet. This is really true. Eating a good diet and drinking plenty of water help regulate your body. Feed it green leafy vegetables, fish (which has vitamin B6 to aid the production of the sleep hormone melatonin), and ensure enough calcium– studies suggest that being calcium deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep, and finally NO DIET COLAS OR CAFFEINATED TEAS OR COFFEES BEFORE BED…. HELLO! Obviously. I would even hesitate having that decaf cappuccino at a restaurant, as even decaffeinated coffee contains traces of caffeine. Opt for hot water and lemon. It’s an acquired taste!!
  5. Try essential oils. The key is seeing what works for your body– not all essential oils work the same on every person. Go to your local health food store and ask about lavender, vetiver, chamomile, ylang ylang, sandalwood or bergamot for sleep. And consult a doctor before taking any.
  6. Try and work out your issues in your head beforehand. Try and make a conscious effort to unplug from your office or what’s consuming your head when you walk in the door. Also, power down all screens hours before bed, as endless studies show that these heavily disrupt restful sleep. I know this is difficult, I’m not saying it’s a walk in the park. But if there are still things that worry your mind, or that you must get done tomorrow, keep  a “worry list” on your night table. If you panic, jot those things down. They’re off your mind, and on your worry list waiting for you tomorrow. This really helps.
  7. DO NOT WATCH THE CLOCK. A good family friend told me this 14 years ago. Stop being a compulsive time checker. If I happen to wake, I NEVER look to see what time it is. That’s because, if it’s 4:30am, I simply will not return to sleep. I’ll think, “Hey, I only have 90 minutes left of sleep, what’s the point of going back to sleep?” When in reality, those 90 minutes are crucial.  Every extra ounce of sleep counts. Don’t watch the clock.
  8. Get out of bed if you really can’t sleep. Studies do show that if you truly cannot fall asleep, it’s best not to force yourself. According to sleep experts, if you do not fall back asleep in 15-20 minutes, you should get out of bed and go to another room.  Try something relaxing like reading a book or listening to music.
  9. Meditate. More on this Monday. Stay tuned. But for this weekend, you might wish to read this article. Or better yet, this 4-7-8 breathing technique is game-changing. 
  10. And finally, SEX. I think that’s my husband’s tip. He says it works like a charm. 😉

What sleep tips work for you? I have a lot more, but would love to hear from YOU. Please share them with our readers. Happy RESTFUL weekend, ladies.