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10 Ways To Sleep Better

10 Ways To Sleep Better

  1. TEMPERATURE. It is best to sleep in cooler temperature, about 67 F / 19.44 C. Don’t leave your heater on while you sleep, you'll wake up groggy and dehydrated, with dry eyes, dry mouth and maybe a headache. A few hours before bed, warm up your space with a heater and sip on hot water to help get you relaxed and sleepy. Finish drinking about 1 hour before bedtime, so you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Using a heater will make the air dry. To offset this, turn on a diffuser or humidifier and anytime you turn on the heat.

  2. TIME. Typically, 7 to 8 hours are recommended for sleep. For a cancer patient, sleep in as long as your body tells you to. If 9 to 10 hours feel right, then that’s your number. Avoid scheduling anything early if that interrupts your sleep time. I know I need a couple hours to do my morning routine including breakfast. Try not to set an alarm to wake, instead allow your body to get up on its own time. When I tell myself I'm going to get up at 6:30, I actually get up at 6:30.

  3. LIGHT. Light will disrupt your melatonin production. It's best to sleep in total darkness or minimize the light in your room. Get curtains that block out light or use a sleep mask-- a contoured one like this won't press on your eyelids or smudge eye makeup during power naps.

  4. STRETCH. Try doing a yoga pose called King pigeon stretch. You can also lie on your back, with your left knee up and rest your right ankle on the left knee. For more of a stretch, pull your left thigh towards you and push the right knee forward and away from the body. Hold the pose and take long, drawn out breaths. Switch sides. This will stretch your thighs and make falling asleep easier. Each time I do this, it really knocks me out.

    It’s better to do this pose in bed, so that when you are finished, all you have to do is roll over and pull the covers over you. Doing this on the ground and in another room will take away the nice sleepy effect when you get up and walk to your bed.

 
This is the best image explaining how to do this. I found it here: http://www.tinareale.com/yoga-poses/

This is the best image explaining how to do this. I found it here: http://www.tinareale.com/yoga-poses/

 

5. SUPPLEMENT.  If you have trouble getting to sleep, try one of my favorite products, Calm tea (Plus Calcium).  The orange flavor one too sweet.  Raspberry-lemon is my favorite, it tastes like hot, tart lemonade. Another option is to take melatonin.  Start off with a small dose of 1 or 3mg, working your dose higher a few days at a time until you find what works for you.  To avoid dependency, do 3 weeks on and 1 week off. This is the one I use:

 
 

6. EMFs

Watching TV is a common habit for most people since it’s tempting, easy to turn on, and to lose yourself and escape from the stresses of the day. But the EMFs emitted disrupt your body’s natural ability to produce melatonin, preventing a good night’s sleep. You can easily lose track of time and the ill effects it has on your system can go unnoticed if you don’t pay attention.

I started to notice that after a couple hours of watching a movie, especially an intense one, I would sense a buzzing in my body after I turned it off and tried to sleep. And when I shut my eyes, it was a similar sensation, a sort of vibration that I “saw”. This feeling made the effects of EMF more tangible and it turned me off to this habit. This experience is one more reason for me to choose not to give in to this old habit.

I recently noticed that I don’t sleep well staying in a room with a dozen devices plugged in. Charge your phone in another room or as far as possible. Use a surge protector to plug in all of your devices, when not in use or at bedtime, switch it off.

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Use a battery operated clock by your bed instead of a plug-in one.

 

Block blue light from your smart phone, iPads, and computer by installing an app called f.lux. It blocks the blue light emitted from screens, which will disrupt your body's melatonin production; the hormone that regulates sleep cycles. F.lux will automatically adapt the level of blue light being blocked to the time of day, turning your screen more orange as it gets later. The more blue light you choose to block, the more orange your screen will turn. I adjusted mine so that it isn't at it's maximum, the super orange screen was not appealing. It takes just a moment to install on each device.

 

7. PILLOW. Use a buckwheat pillow to keep cool.  It gives firm support so that your head is in alignment with your body. And it makes it easier to read, since it is firm.

8. WINDOW. Don't miss your window.  When you start to get sleepy, don't fight it. Doing that can make you miss that opportunity to get sleep. You'll end up getting a second wind and staying awake for a few more hours. 

Avoid over-stimulating activities like games, stressful movies, upbeat music or suspenseful books. Instead give your body time to unwind and do calming things. When I have trouble getting to sleep I like to go over the best parts of my day or fantasize about a perfect day I want to have.

9. ACCEPTANCE. If you miss your window, don't dwell on it. If you're having trouble, don't keep checking on the time. That makes you more aware of how much sleep you're missing. Instead, do some slow, deep breathing and tell yourself that whatever amount of sleep you actually get will be enough for you to do what you need for that day. With breath work, you’ll slow down and find that you can quickly get yourself to feel peaceful and relaxed.

A lot of it is mental--days that I end up going to sleep late and I forget that fact, I don't even feel tired. In the evening, I think about the day I had and I’m amazed at how much I did on little sleep. And when I do remember, I start to get sleepy! Do you ever notice that if you were worried about not getting enough sleep, you wake up even more exhausted?

10. DISTRACTION. Go and do something. If you're consistently having trouble getting solid sleep, and you're awake for hours at a time, get up and do something. Give yourself a set amount of time and choose to do something that doesn't require a lot of focus.

I had insomnia for about a year while going through the first 5 months of chemotherapy of Herceptin, Perjeta and Taxotere. I would be up for 3 to 4 hours at a time. I started working on jigsaw puzzles. It was nice because I could visually see progress being made and it was stimulating enough but not to stir me up even more.

One great thing about not being able to sleep is you'll be in alpha state and that’s where creativity thrives. Journaling and drawing are relaxing, creative things to do. Check out Zentangle drawing if you haven't tried it. It's drawing with repetitive strokes in patterns. Instead of highly engaging, it's relaxed focus and a form of meditation.

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