Tammy Strobel (4/5)

Renew Your Mind and Body with Sleep

Tammy Strobel is a writer, photographer, and teacher. She created her blog in late 2007 to improve her writing and to share her story. In her fourth blog she writes about how to renew your Mind and Body with Sleep. 

I’m much more creative when I’ve actually taken care of myself.
— Arianna Huffington

Recently, my husband and I rented a small cottage for the winter season. Prior to that, we lived in a tiny, 128-square-foot house on wheels. One of my favorite places in our tiny house is the loft. It’s cozy, warm, and since there is a skylight in the loft, the natural light is beautiful. It was the perfect place to snuggle up for an afternoon nap and a restful night’s sleep.

While we lived in our wee abode, we slept on a futon mattress in the loft. However, we didn’t take the futon to the cottage because we are still using our tiny house for weekend retreats and need a cozy place to sleep. Instead, we opted to purchase a new mattress for the cottage. I’ve been sleeping soundly on our new bed, and that’s caused me to rethink my nightly rituals and sleeping habits.

Getting enough sleep is talked about frequently in the media and in academic research. In Thrive, Arianna Huffington also emphasized the power of sleep. Below are a few statistics Huffington mentioned in her book:
-Over 30% of the people in the United States and in the United Kingdom do not get enough sleep.
-Studies have shown that insomnia costs businesses more than $63 billion per year.
-For the sleep deprived, an extra hour of sleep can do more for your happiness than a $60,000 raise.

In addition, Huffington noted how the lack of sleep negatively impacts our creativity, our ability to make sound decisions, and the ability to focus on work projects. Also, it’s difficult to cope with daily stressors when you don’t get enough sleep.

Based on research—and my own experience—I want to offer some tips and tools to help you sleep better (and longer, if needed). Let’s get started!

Determine how much sleep you need. I’ve experimented with getting more sleep and less sleep over the years, and I finally came up with an optimal number. I need at least nine hours of sleep each night to feel rested and ready to start my day. A great way to determine how much sleep you need is to keep a sleep journal. Record your sleeping patterns, the number of hours you sleep, and make notes about how you feel upon waking.

Buy a good pillow and pajamas. We spend a lot of our lives sleeping, yet many of us sleep on pillows that make our neck or head hurt. Invest in a good pillow that you want to cuddle up with in the evening. Also, a nice pair of pajamas can be a great addition to your sleeping routine. My mind knows it is time to unplug and relax when I put my pajamas on in the evening.

Set a bedtime for yourself. If you are anything like me, this suggestion probably takes you back to your childhood routine. It really works, though. Typically, I go to bed at 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. because I love getting up early and watching the sunrise.

In the evening, give your smart phone a break. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, leave it on a desk or dresser that isn’t near your bed. This is a great option because when the alarm sounds, you have to get up. Alternatively, you could purchase a vintage alarm clock instead of using your phone to wake-up in the morning.

Take frequent naps. You might not be able to take a nap during the week, especially if you have a day job. However, if you work at home or for yourself, naps are fair game. Consider taking naps often. If you can’t nap during the week, make time to nap on the weekend.

Meditate prior to falling asleep. I love this activity because it helps calm my mind before I go to bed. I’ve purchased a few meditation programs through the Chopra Meditation Center, and they are perfect for winding down in the evening. If you can’t afford to purchase a meditation program, participate in the Chopra Center’s free mediation programs. Every few months, the center offers a new online program.

Write about your evening habits. Do you have specific evening rituals in place? For instance, do you read, journal, or mediate prior to sleeping? Or do you check your smartphone? What types of activities can you do before bed to help yourself relax?

Parting words …
When I get enough sleep, I feel inspired, creative, and ready to start my work day. However, when I’m sleep deprived, I feel hung-over and grouchy. I’m thankful for my new mattress because it’s helped me sleep soundly. However, getting a new mattress isn’t a prerequisite to getting a good night of sleep. Make time to unwind in the evenings, turn off your smartphone, and go to bed.