New Ideas for Better Sleep – Part III – Being mindful about going to bed, waking up

images-1The goal of this series of posts is to encourage readers to contemplate their relationship with sleep.  Are you at war with sleep?  Do you disparage sleep and revere productivity?  Or do you secretly love sleep, but are afraid to admit it to your overacheiving friends?

Here are some facts about sleep that might help you gain respect for this lost art:

  • When we are in a cool, dark room our body temperature goes down, inducing sleepiness, and reducing bodily inflammation
  • REM sleep (dream sleep) is important for procedural memory, helping us integrate new information
  • People who get less than six hours of sleep per night have a 50% higher frequency of viral infections, obesity, depression, and cardio-vascular disease than those who sleep longer.

But don’t panic if you feel like you are not getting enough sleep.   Instead, start to become mindful of your attitude around sleep and rest.

Try this:

This evening  encourage sleepiness by lowering the lights in your home and turning off screens at least one hour before bed.  Ease into sleep by reading a calming book or article.  If you are using an E-reader, turn down the light on the screen.  The blue light in LED screens sends as signal to your brain to stay awake and will disrupt you sleep cycle.  Alternatively, try quietly sharing a pleasant event from your day with your partner, children, or pet.

Tomorrow morning make space between waking and bolting out of bed and starting your day –  Ease into your day by stretching in bed.  Sit up and take a few deep breaths to start to energize your body naturally.  Go outside with your tea or coffee and gaze at the sky for 5-10 minutes.   Morning daylight, even on a cloudy day, sends the signal to your brain to start producing melatonin (the sleep-inducing hormone) approximately sixteen hours after the exposure to morning light.

By being mindful about the space between sleep and wake, we can integrate the two experiences.  Seeing sleepiness and wakefulness as equally important helps keep our energies in balance.

Let us know you this exercise works for you.

We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day.


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