All of you sleepy people out there know that today is the first day after the time changed for daylight savings. I always dread this week as it takes me a while to adjust to the time change. Today I have felt pretty sluggish, especially in the afternoon. But in general, I have been sleeping a lot better during the last few months.
In January, I set two stress management goals for 2012. One of these goals was to get more sleep and the second one was to get organized. I have been working on them little by little over the past three months.
I have to admit that I have almost always had trouble sleeping. For most of my life, I have been one of those on the go busy people. Raised in the south, I drink too much iced tea and too much Diet Coke. My professional life is very busy. I work a lot of hours doing things that take a lot of thought. Sometimes I work later than I should. I have been doing this now for many years and, I often have trouble winding down and falling asleep. Also, I sometimes do not sleep very deeply at night and wake up exhausted.
The sleeplessness had become a vicious cycle for me. I would not sleep well or enough and would then wake up exhausted. In my exhausted state, I would need a lot of caffeine to keep me awake during the day, but would not be at my best, which made me less efficient at work and at home. Last fall and winter were difficult for me. I worked on many grants in the fall and then caught pneumonia before Thanksgiving. It took a while to recover. It also made me think about the way that I was living my life.
When I set my stress management goal of getting more sleep, I tried to think about the things that were affecting my sleep. I have tried a lot of things in the past to get better sleep including:
- sleeping in a comfortable bed
- sleeping in a dark room
- white noise
- removing clocks from the room
Unfortunately, all of these things combined had not really helped. So I set out to make some changes.
First, I stopped drinking caffeinated drinks almost entirely for 10 days when I went to India. At the time avoiding the caffeine helped me adjust to the jet lag. But then I realized that I was sleeping so much better without it. Now, that I am back in the United States, I am not drinking caffeinated drinks after lunch. The negative part of reducing caffeine is that I have to fight the urge to lay down under my desk and take a nap at 3:00 pm. But, I have been drinking a lot of water to make up for it, which makes me feel less dehydrated.
Limiting Late Night Work
Although I cannot completely avoid it, I have been trying not to work late at night. One thing that this has meant is that I have cut down a bit on blogging activities. But, the interesting thing is that it does not really seem to matter. My blog and website are still growing, even though the pace is slower than full time bloggers.
Regular Yoga (and Other Exercise)
Another thing that has helped reduce my sleep problems is my regular beginner’s yoga class. I started yoga in November and then enrolled in another class after returning from India. I find that I am quite relaxed Tuesday evenings after yoga and try to hold on to that relaxed feeling through the night. Since the weather is warm here in Florida, I have resumed all of my heavy gardening activities, especially on weekends. Over the last month, I have spent several hours each weekend raking leaves, moving tree branch debris, pulling up weeds, and planting new plants. Over the next month, our family will resume the heavy work of laying sod to finish our never-ending lawn project. While many people do not ever want to do this kind of heavy labor, I find that it is calming to me. It is also such good exercise that I sleep very well.
Reducing caffeine, limiting work at night, and doing yoga and other exercise regularly are the things that I have changed to get better sleep. So far, doing each of these things has been very effective for me. I am sleeping better than ever.
What do you do to get better sleep?