shine day 11: let sleep give you a spark

I didn’t know how critical sleep was to functionality until we become parents.  In our little boy’s first year, he struggled to sleep which meant that we didn’t sleep.  If you are a long-time reader, you know that our little guy woke up after just forty-five minutes of sleep over and over and over X 15 again all night long.  We were delirious, non-sensical, and not all that thoughtful.  Zombies exist folks. I was one for all of 2009.

During this time, I quite about every bit of self-care that I had previously prioritized.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, I reasoned.  And everything, a simple meal preparation, for example, took so much longer when you were doing it exhausted.  Thing that I had once been proud of- my ability to remember significant dates in the lives of my friends’, the ability to be efficient, thoughtfulness- just left me. I was a shell of the woman that I had once known.

Then, one night, sometime after he was a year old, our little guy woke up just three times.  Instantly, I felt like a new person.  When we strung a couple nights like that together, I realized that sleep was one of nature’s best medicines. And I decided to not be so cavalier or casual about it again.

Now, I try to turn my light out every night by 10:30 so that I am not totally asking for it when a 5:30 alarm sounds.  And what I have realized is that I am a much better person when I am rested- not just to others but, most of all, to myself.  I am kinder and more generous to the face that looks back at me in the mirror, more grateful to my body (and it probably more grateful to me since I am giving it the rest it deserves).  I often say that food is medicine and I truly believe this.  But good, healthy, nutrient-riched food is not the only good choice we can make for our body on a daily basis.  Another one, that often goes unnoticed, is sleep.

Today:  Plan your day and night in a way that you can get at least seven hours of sleep.  If you are like me, you might need some wind down time before going to bed.  If so, make sure that you are in your bedroom at least one hour before your determined bedtime to get ready for ready and then relax a little before you fall asleep. If it is hard for you to sleep, do a little research before bedtime comes on some strategies for either falling or staying asleep.  Perhaps you need a cooler bedroom, a warm bath or drink before bedtime, some lavender, no screen time, less light in your room (I cover my alarm clock in order to get the room pitch dark).  Prepare for sleep by finding out what you need to get the sleep your body and mind deserve.

1.  How many hours were you able to sleep?  How did you feel when you woke and during the next day?

2. Can you make a commitment to giving yourself at least 7 hours of sleep each night?  What do you need to maintain that commitment?

3.  How is allowing yourself to sleep a way of caring for yourself?

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16 responses to “shine day 11: let sleep give you a spark”

  1. Tami - Teacher Goes Back to School

    sleep is so important to my well being, i have always prioritized it. as a life long insomniac i have long established sleep routines and do my best to make the best of what sleep i can get.

    a few years ago i was so sick for a semester, started going to bed in the 9 o’clock hour instead of 10 and basically it changed my life so much for the better that i, for the most part, kept it up. what a difference an extra hour of sleep makes!

    in addition to actual sleep, i try to make time for quiet each day. sometimes it comes during nap time with the girl, sometimes in yoga, sometimes during meditation. but resting while still awake is also a great act of self-care.

  2. Jamie

    I had about 7 hours last night, although my cats try to interrupt my sleep. For years I have struggled with insomnia…the kind where I wake up and can’t go back to sleep. I’ve learned that meditation daily (doesn’t matter when) helps me sleep better. I also take 1 or 2 Epsom salt baths a week, which also helps. AND the benefit to these two activities are additional ways I am being consistent with self-care.

  3. Marissa

    Even with a new puppy, I’ve been able to get my usual 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Sleep is critical for me and beyond the physical benefits, is helps me feel positive about handling the challenges each day brings. Reading is an important ritual for me each night, and I have a light snack before bedtime to remind myself that bedtime and wind-down is all part of the relaxation ritual. While there are days when it is not possible to follow my sleep schedule fully, I usually make every effort to commit to this part of my wellness routine. I feel rested, rejuvenated and strong when I wake, and when my puppy gets me up a bit earlier than I’d like, I match his enthusiastic kisses with belly rubbings and an eager smile.

  4. Susannah

    1.  How many hours were you able to sleep?  How did you feel when you woke and during the next day?

    I slept 8 hours last night, I hadn’t expected to, I went to bed very late, and I’m not very good at lying in. But it worked – 8 hours! I intend to get the same amount of sleep tonight. I felt very relaxed and rested.

    2. Can you make a commitment to giving yourself at least 7 hours of sleep each night?  What do you need to maintain that commitment?

    I’m afraid not, I can’t get to bed till late usually, well, when it’s not a school holiday. I can aim for 6, but that might be impossible to achieve too. But I will try, I need my sleep. I do catch up on sleep on the weekends.

    3.  How is allowing yourself to sleep a way of caring for yourself?

    I love going upstairs and being in my pretty bedroom, and reading a bit before I go to sleep. It counts as me time, which is good. And I do get very tired, and when I do, I look it, so getting some more sleep when I go back to school should be part of my goals for the new year. Until then, I will be getting a lot of sleep while it’s still the holiday.

    1. Susannah

      I managed 9 last night – must have been tired…

  5. Valerie

    As I get older, it becomes harder to sleep, but more important for me to do so. I have to consciously make an effort to get 7 hours of sleep at night. When I do, I feel better and more rested in the morning.

    I have committed this past year, to try to consistently give myself at least 7 hours of sleep every night. In order to maintain that commitment, it is necessary for me to put off some other things that I feel are important, but that will wait until the next day.

    By allowing myself to sleep 7 hours, I reduce the stress in my life. I also have the energy during to day to get more done and to exercise and play harder with my family. This contributes to a happier me.

  6. Nancy Horn

    1. How many hours were you able to sleep? How did you feel when you woke and during the next day?

    I have to have my eight hours. I can get by on less a day or two but then it’s back to eight hours a must! I function so differently when I am fully rested and my body wakes when it has eight hours of sleep.

    2. Can you make a commitment to giving yourself at least 7 hours of sleep each night? What do you need to maintain that commitment?

    It helps that my children are older but sleep has always been a priority in my life because it feels like something I have to have – like air.

    3. How is allowing yourself to sleep a way of caring for yourself?

    HALT – Hungry – Angry – Lonely – Tired
    All in check equal a better me!

  7. Amy

    I have kind of a love hate relationship with sleep. I know that if I don’t get at least 8-9 hours I won’t do well the next day. But sometimes it feels like a terrible waste of time–I especially feel that way on bad/sad days. For me it is a vicious cycle I have a bad and so I don’t want to go to bed = don’t get enough sleep== have a bad day.

    I try to get at least 8 hrs of sleep every night. I think I need to find a way to reconcile my desire to stay up late with my need for sleep. I worked late night jobs through college and find that I enjoy the witching hour but I find that I function best before 9:30 pm no matter what time I woke up that day. SO yes I can commit to sleeping 8 hrs a night.

    3.) Allowing myself to sleep instead of pushing on with whatever task I want to do is caring for myself because it is acknowledging that my needs are important and valid and NOT a waste of time.

  8. Chibi Jeebs

    1. How many hours were you able to sleep? How did you feel when you woke and during the next day?
    I *slept* last night for the first time in at least a week (having your partner unemployed and having trouble finding new work will REALLY do a number on you!) – pretty sure I got close to 8 hours. YAY!

    2. Can you make a commitment to giving yourself at least 7 hours of sleep each night? What do you need to maintain that commitment?
    I really need to commit to this for myself; all too often I get caught up in the internet, only to retire to bed with the iPad. I need to go back to reading in bed instead of using more technology.

    3. How is allowing yourself to sleep a way of caring for yourself?
    Oh, sleep is HUGE for me – it affects every aspect of my life!

  9. Jackie

    Oh gosh, 7 hours of sleep would leave me like a zombie. I really really prioritize my sleep because if my sleep goes, depression sets in. This summer I started a sleep log to write down my bedtimes, wake times, etc. and that has helped me be more intentional with getting the sleep I need. I’ve also found I need to turn off my computer an hour before bedtime.

  10. LadyEm

    Ooh, last night was an exception for me, I only got 5 hours sleep as I sat with matchsticks in my eyes watching the Olympic closing ceremony on the TV!

    I know that I need at least 7 to 8 hours sleep a night in order to keep the grouch monster at bay and count quality sleep as one of the most important things to give myself.

  11. Meg C.

    I know that ideally, I need 9 hours of sleep. I always feel the best after 9 hours. I also know that I need a regular sleep schedule to prevent migraines. Sleep is also the best medicine when I get a migraine. My quality of life is much better when I get my 8-9 hours!

  12. Cecile

    Last year for some months, my daughter just could not sleep from 2a.m. to 6 a.m. every night. As parents, we could only sleep to 2 a.m. Yeah, zombies exist….. so I know the importance of sleep too.

    I usually need at least 8 hours of sleep, and now more during my pregnancy. As we had guests, I was not able to go to bed as soon as I would have needed, and had “only” 7-8 hours of sleep, BUT I was able to organize some kid-sitting for my daughter today, so I had a nap of 2 hours. My house is still a mess but I know I made the right priority, as I now have enough energy for both my kid and my house.

  13. Shine Update | steeplesandstilettos

    […] Day 11: Let Sleep Give You a Spark […]

  14. Amanda @ Click. The Good News

    I’m really good about other areas of self-care, but I’m failing miserably at this one- mostly b/c I get up at 4AM on Monday/Wednesday/Friday to run & do yoga. I try to sleep in on Tue/Thurs, but I just find I do better with morning workouts instead of fitting them in (or blowing them off) the afternoon. I’m usually exhausted waking up, but doing my morning routine & then exercising always wakes me up & makes me so happy and feeling good about myself. I try to get to bed by 10, and I can accomplish that about 50% of the time. I know I need to be better…..

    I can usually do OK with this, as long as I get rested up on the weekends & sleep in- It feels GLORIOUS when I get 9+ hour of sleep.

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