Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wellness Wednesday, March 6


Yawn 3-6-03

  Not all that long ago, I wrote about sleep, and my lack thereof.  It’s a topic that passes through my thoughts fairly regularly, since I seem to be one of those chronically sleep-deprived people.

  •   Periodically, I browse around the Internet to see if there are any new ideas about how to ensure restful sleep on a regular basis or, the thing I’d really like to find, any tips on how to feel better on less sleep.  I don’t usually find either, unfortunately.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Oh, I know most of the tried and true rules:

  • Keep your room dark and quiet
  • Keep it cool (or even cold, if you can stand it)
  • Make sure your room isn’t cluttered
  • Go to bed and wake up at fairly consistent times
  • Get some exercise
  • Don’t eat before bedtime

I’m sure there are plenty more, but those are some of the basics.  And, except for the uncluttered bedroom bit, I typically do most of it.  The one that’s been causing me trouble lately, though, is the consistent times.  My bedtime used to be fairly consistent, even if it was awfully late, but this past month or so, it seems to just be getting later and later.  Consequently, I have been sleeping later and later.  I’m slowly trying to change that.  This week, I’ve been trying to make sure I’m in bed by 12:30.  I know that doesn’t really seem early, but considering my normal bedtime is usually around 2:00am, and many times this past month it’s been as late as 4:00 or 5:00, 12:30 is a pretty good start.  In another week or so, I might try and move it up to midnight, or maybe even eleven, but I have to honestly say, it’s not likely to get much earlier than that.  Anyway, I bring this all up today because, as we all know, our sleeping habits can have a lot to do with our overall well-being.  And, as someone who hopes to soon be back on the weight-loss wagon, I also know sleep has a lot to do with weight.  Whether it’s because we’re tired during the day and eat junk food for a quick buzz of energy, chemicals in the body making it hard to eat right when you’re sleepy, or some conglomeration of reasons doesn’t really matter to me.  What does matter is trying not to let something as simple as a good night’s sleep stand between me and losing weight.  Or staying healthy, for that matter, since the experts also say that chronic sleep deficit increases your risks of all manner of health problems:  diabetes, heart disease, stroke, to name a few.  That’s not what I want.

As an aside, the only ever-so-slightly decent side-effect of these ongoing pain issues I’m dealing with is the medication I take at night to help me sleep.  Not that I particularly recommend drugging yourself in order to rest, but I often don’t even have to wake up to make a bathroom run when I’m taking that stuff, and that’s almost unheard of for me. 

At any rate, while I’m certainly not a health professional, I strongly concur that adequate, restful sleep is a must for overall health.  But, in terms of “adequate”, I’m going to say that varies a bit.  The general consensus is about 7.5 hours, and I will say that even as few as six hours—even for only one night—makes a noticeable difference in how I feel the next day.  But, for me, nine hours is closer to what really works for me.  I can manage on less, and I can do it for a really long time, but not forever.  I think the best way to know how much sleep your body needs is to go to bed at your regular time and turn off the alarm clock—just let yourself sleep until you wake up.  If you can do that for several days in a row—a luxury that many people don’t have, I know—you’ll get a really good idea of how much sleep is best for you.

So, as counter-intuitive as it seems, learn from someone who’s not doing it right.  Figure out how much sleep you need and then set up your nighttime rituals to ensure you get it.  I think it’s much easier to establish good habits than it is to change bad ones the way I’m trying to do now. 

What sleep tricks do you have?

Oh, and here’s a short video about sleep.  Not how much you get, but how you actually sleep, and what that might say about you.  Personally, I’m not convinced you can actually correlate personality traits with sleeping positions (or a lot of other things people try to use for research), but, I still often watch these things, just to see if I end up in the right category.  BTW, the jury’s still out on this one.

And, now, I’ve only got a few minutes left before my bedtime, so I better get a move on.  Good night.

weight loss wednesday 1-23-13






Image courtesy of africa at