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9.20.2011

this is a no-wake zone.

This no-wake zone is not about making waves in a lake. I'm talking about some good old fashioned shut eye. Sleep is not overrated- and you shouldn't be living your life by the "I'll sleep when I'm dead" mantra. In order to maintain your physical and cognitive health, you have to give your body the rest it needs on a routine basis. This includes more than just making sure you're spending enough time with your favorite pillow. Having a balanced nutrition plan, giving yourself the proper amounts of muscle and brain stimuli, indulging in relaxation, keeping your stress under control, exercising often, and staying hydrated are also part of the formula for success. Believe it or not, there is an art to both counting sheep and to falling asleep.
  • Light; Or should I say Darkness. Even just the smallest amount of light in your bedroom can stimulate your senses enough to keep you awake. Clocks are often the biggest culprit- most tickers allow you to adjust the brightness. If you can, try sleeping without the time showing in your bedroom at all. If you are struggling to fall asleep or fall back to sleep, watching the minutes tick by can cause anxiety which will end up keeping you awake even longer.
  • Establishing a Routine; Making a bedtime for yourself may sound a little "middle-school," but it's just as important in your 20's, 30's, and beyond as it is prior. If you aim to go to bed within the same half hour every night, your body will begin to adjust, and even prepare, for shut eye. You'll begin to feel tired around the same hour every evening, which will make falling- and staying- asleep even easier. 
  • Stress Less; Often times when we crawl into bed, our brains are busy remembering all the things we forgot to do that day or processing what we have to do tomorrow. Sometimes this pushes us as far as getting out to bed to complete a small task; which will only interrupt the winding down process. Instead, try keeping a journal or piece of scrap paper next to your bed. If you think of things while you're drifting off to sleep, jot them down rather than running your brain ragged trying to remember them all the following morning. The faster you can shut your brain down, the faster you can slip into a deep slumber. 
  • Power Down; Televisions, computers, cell phones and other electronics put off information, sound, and light stimuli that can keep your brain awake. Yet some people can only fall asleep to the sound of the television or radio. Studies show that turning electronics off an hour before bed helps prepare you better for sleep than keeping them on. Each person is going to react differently, so it's all about finding what is best for you. 
  • Puppy Love; Of course we all love our pets, but establishing a bedtime routine for them is just as important as creating one for yourself. Pets can keep you up at night with their noises, running around, and playfulness. This may mean not allowing them in your bedroom at night, or putting them in their crate. Remember, to best care for others you have to care for yourself first. 
  • Night Terrors; Always wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night? Find yourself dealing with stomach aches at 3am? Feeling restless? Snoring? Experiencing hot flashes? If you start to notice a change for the worst in your sleeping routine, there is probably a very specific reason for it. Sometimes a trip to a sleep specialist or doctor is going to be the key to solving the problem. Other times you can self-diagnose by considering your recent habits; if you are eating too much before bed, it may be the cause of tummy aches which could be solved by vowing to not eat after 8pm. If you find yourself running for the bathroom, maybe you are drinking too much before bedtime. If you are laying in bed wide awake, consider switching your workout routine to earlier in the day or avoiding caffeine in the afternoon. Waking up in a cold sweat may be a result of dehydration or improper bedroom temperatures, so making some minor adjustments on the thermostat could be an easy cure.
The amount of sleep, type of sleep, where you sleep, when you sleep, how you sleep, and who you sleep with (wink!) are all based on your individual needs. The important part is that you are logging enough ZZZ's to keep yourself happy, healthy, and functional. When in doubt, visit a sleep specialist that can help you create your ideal environment for shut eye. 

Remember these?

"Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are!  Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky! When the blazing sun is gone, When he nothing shines upon, When you show your little light, Twinkle, twinkle, all the night. Then the traveller in the dark, Thanks you for your tiny spark, He could not see which way to go, If you did not twinkle so. In the dark blue sky you keep, And often through my curtains peep, For you never shut your eye, Till the sun is in the sky. As your bright and tiny spark, Lights the traveller in the dark, Though I know not what you are, Twinkle, twinkle, little star."

"Rock-a-bye baby, in the tree top. When the wind blows, the cradle will rock. When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall. And down will come baby, cradle and all."

"Hush, little baby, don't say a word. Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird won't sing, Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring. And if that diamond ring turns brass, Papa's gonna buy you a looking glass. And if that looking glass gets broke, Papa's gonna buy you a billy goat. And if that billy goat won't pull, Papa's gonna buy you a cart and bull. And if that cart and bull turn over, Papa's gonna buy you a dog named Rover. And if that dog named Rover won't bark, Papa's gonna buy you a horse and cart. And if that horse and cart fall down, You'll still be the sweetest little baby in town."

ZzZzZz...


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