Unwrapping the gift of sleep

Most of us have experienced the long nights of tossing and turning endlessly trying to fall asleep. The long nights may be attributed to extreme environmental factors, biological conditions, heightened emotions, the worries of the next day, and the added stress of not falling asleep. And then there is the dismal experience of counting down the few remaining wee hours left in the night.

Have you ever known those people where no matter the circumstance or situation they fall asleep within minutes? Not just light sleep either, but deep, sound, loud snoring, mouth opened, the drooling kind of sleep. It’s okay to be jealous of these kinds of people, after all it is a special gift and talent.

For those of us not born with such a talent, we must find ways to hone our skills in finding better sleep and rest. The body operates the most efficiently around a consistent and complete sleep-wake cycle. For starters, adjusting to a more rigid routine each day significantly helps the body learn when to wake up and when to wind down. Try to find patterns and work around schedules so you are going to bed and waking up at relatively the same time each day.

The activities we perform or foods we consume before bed are also areas we should pay close attention to. Limiting intense exercises, heavy meals, caffeinated drinks, reducing alcohol before unwinding down are all positive steps in ensuring better sleep. Specific supplements may also be considered to help monitor and regulate hormonal balance best optimized for sleep. Stressful thoughts and emotions should also be addressed whenever possible. Meditation, prayer, acceptance of the situations can all help alleviate the restless thoughts that may hinder sound sleep. It is important to be mindful of our attachment to electronics as well, as they provide an endless array of stimulation and also the blue lights emitted from these devices can alter the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Some have even adopted the practice of having electronic-free zone sleeping quarters where distractions are not as readily available as an arm-reach.

Learning to rest and finding healthy lifestyle choices to sleep well is essential and beneficial to every aspect of life. Having the appropriate amount of time to shut off and the quality of deep sleep provides the strength and energy to propel you into a busy day of work and productivity. For now, goodnight and good morning, hopefully not too soon.