Sleep Hygiene – my version

1.  The bedroom is only for sleep and for sex.

  • If you aren’t having sex than all you get to do is sleep.  No food, no phone, no TV.  Only sleep.
  • The bedroom is a sanctuary for sleep. Your subconscious is way to powerful to toy with.  When you go to bed you want it to be telling you to sleep, not read that last chapter or check the latest on @Twitter.
  • This can be a change in family culture and affects everyone in the home.

2.  No naps longer than 20 minutes during the day time – Known as a “Power Nap.”

  • If you are tired and have the luxury of lying down, do it!  But set your alarm to wake you up in 20 minutes.  You can do this 20 times a day if you want to.  But no longer than 20 minutes.  Anything longer will break into your deeper stages of sleep and throw off your sleep cycle (also known as sleep architecture) at night.

3.  No caffeine second half of the day.

4.  Exercise but not before bed.

  • Exercise will help regulate your sleep cycle at night if you just give your sleep initiation some space.
  • Try to get forty to sixty minutes 5-7 days a week of aerobic exercise to get best results.
  • Look at exercise like a pill.  A prescription.  Something for your medical and emotional health (inspiring to me), not necessarily for your waistline (inspiration notoriously short-lived.)
  • Every day think, “I’m exercising so I feel good, so I sleep good, so I can do what I want in life” – what ever that may be for you.  Some people will say, “…so I’m not a crazy Mom!”

5.  Keep the lights dim before bed.

  • Light turns off melatonin release from the pineal gland in our brains.  Darkness releases it.  Having your face 6 inches from the computer screen or TV before you lay down doesn’t give your body much time to turn itself off.  Melatonin is a cornerstone in sleep architecture.
  • Some people who feel they must be on the computer or TV before bed have found that wearing sunglasses for at least the last 30 minutes helps.

6.  Go to bed and get out of bed at the same time every day.

7.  If you can’t fall asleep in 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something else until you feel sleepy.  Then go to bed and try again.

  • Refer back to #5 when choosing what and how to do your activities during that time.

8.  If you can’t fall asleep in 30 minutes, consider taking a sleep aid.

9.  Do not take any sleep aids over-the-counter except melatonin, valerian root, or chamomile.

  • All others including anything containing diphenhydramine, block your deep sleep. You may end up sleeping a longer amount of time, but you won’t be getting restorative sleep.  It is during the deep sleep that your body heals, replenishes it’s hormones and neurotransmitters, and consolidates memories.

10.  If you choose to take a prescription sleep aid, do not take benzodiazepines such as diazepam, temazepam, clonazepam, alprazolam, or lorazepam to name a few.  These also block deep sleep.

  • Sleep aids safe for deep sleep and sleep architecture, include atypical benzodiazepine receptor ligands – such as zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), or zaleplon (Sonata).  The main differences between these are how long it takes for them to be metabolized/washed out of the body.  Some are quick and some last the full 8 hours.
  • Trazodone (Desyrel) is also safe for sleep structure and maintenance.
  • Sometimes people will find that combining something like zolpidem with trazodone is most effective for them rather than using only one agent.

11.  Do not use alcohol to sleep.  Alcohol is a depressant (will make you depressed) and also blocks deep sleep.

12.  Do not smoke before bed or if you awaken from sleep.  Nicotine is stimulating.

13.  Don’t sleep with your pets or children.  They are disruptive.

  • It’s not personal.  It’s sleep hygiene.

Self Care Tip #34 – Use these tips to decode how to sleep well.  Be a friend to yourself.

Questions:  Why do you skip the bits of sleep hygiene that you do?  What helps you in your tough work of being your own friend in regards to sleep?  Please tell us your story.  

Freud Did Not Know

Bad dreams.  Just woke up from one.  There’s a lot out there on dreams in mental health.  After all, they come from the brain.  When Freud was looking at things, he saw dreams as “unconscious wish fulfillments.”  However since Freud rocked our world, we’ve learned so much more about brain biology and Freud was wrong.  Oochie ouchie.  Just saying that makes me feel like his still very much alive reputation will come at me like an angry ghost and be mean!

Dreams are just that, dreams.  Sometimes they are good, but often they are scary, bad, and even terrifying.  Why?  According to Dr. Quijada ;), yours truly, they are commonly symptoms of emotional disease or side effects of medications, etc….  In anxious states, we dream.  After going through life threatening events to  ourselves or witnessing it in another, we get nightmares.  When there is a disconnection is our sleep architecture, we can get “parasomnias” such as night terrors.  Some medication such as Trazodone can cause vivid dreaming where people say they dream “in color.”  And on and on.

Freud didn’t know this, so no offense taken.  However, we do.  Enough with the hocus pocus moral dilemmas that are discussed in our own thoughts and among some ongoing therapies.  First look to biology to give us the answer. Even after having a nasty scream-your-lungs-out dream, remember that your brain is mortal, human, made up of carbon and not aura.

Sometimes even that much information can help people sleep better.

Self Care Tip # 43 – Don’t make too much out of your dreams.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  Do you agree or disagree?  Did this help you in any way?  Please tell me your story.