A couple of things about sleep

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A friend of mine broke her arm and had to have physical therapy to help her regain full use of her hand. The therapist told her that the motion we use to pull apart a sealed bag (like the ones inside of cereal boxes) is terrible for our hands and no one–regardless of injury–should ever pull one of those bags apart. I don’t have any problem with my hands now, but after talking to my friend I am absolutely using scissors to open those sealed bags from here on out!

Sleep is like that. I am a terrible sleeper. Sometimes I have stretches of decent sleep, but more often I have problems of various sorts, whether or not I currently have a waking baby. Many people, however, seem to have little trouble sleeping. Obviously people like me need to read up on sleep research, but what about people like my husband who–in spite of really bad sleep habits–inexplicably sleep soundly whenever they want to? After reading a couple of books on sleep lately, I think it’s probably wise to understand sleep better even if you’re not having trouble with it.

sleep revolutionIf you’re totally new to healthy sleep, of if you’re not convinced that sleep is important, you might want to start off with Sleep Revolution. The book is kind of like a compendium report of the latest and greatest sleep research, mixed in with all of the reasons you can’t get by on too little sleep (really, even if you think you’re pulling it off, you’re not). While it’s informative, the book lacks much practical punch. The suggestions for getting better sleep are pretty thin, or the sort of thing you could find online in those “10 Ways to Sleep Better” slideshows. Still, if you need convincing or an overview, Sleep Revolution could be your book.

Sleep-Smarter-book

Lots of resources will tell you that sleep is important, so do things like get to bed on time and don’t drink caffeine after 4pm. Those are great tips as far as they go, but some of us need more than that to get good sleep. If you’re going to get REALLY SERIOUS about sleep, I’d recommend Sleep Smarter. This book is chock full of action items to improve your sleep. Some of them are easy to implement, some of them are a little out there, and all are fully discussed in enough detail to really put them into practice. There is a good amount of research included, but it’s readable, and it moves quickly into things you can actually do to improve your sleep.

I’m making several changes to my routines to take action on things I learned in Sleep Smarter, and I’m working on them for me and for my kids.

Of possible interest, Gretchen Rubin linked to this article on insomnia that suggests not eating if you wake up at night. Sleep Smarter suggests a before bed snack high in fat and low in carbs so you won’t wake up hungry. I do find that if I eat something like a hard boiled egg right before bed, I sleep better.

What works for you when it comes to getting good sleep?
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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

5 thoughts on “A couple of things about sleep

  1. I am one if those people who usually sleeps well. The kids only occassionally need me at night now. BUT my bladder has been abused by four pregnancies, so I am usually up once to use the bathroom. Also, my back and hips have issues to, so I wake several times a night for a position change. Getting old, I guess.

  2. My husband suffered from really bad insomnia for 15 years. Miserable night after miserable night, he could be absolutely exhausted and still lie there wide awake for hours.

    Upon the recommendation of a friend, he started using magnesium oil (really just like a strong saline solution made of epsom salts; you spritz it on your skin.) It’s common knowledge that magnesium helps improve sleep, but what I didn’t know was that while internal supplements are often, ahem, hard on the digestion and poorly absorbed, you absorb magnesium really well through your skin! It worked like magic. His sleep is practically normal now, unless he forgets to use it a few nights in a row. Wonderful stuff!

    I started using it too, and while I never had any complaints in the sleep department, I found that it even improved my nights. I wake up feeling more rested, like the quality of my sleep is better.

  3. A cup of chamomile tea two hours before I go to bed has done wonders for a consistently good night’s rest for me (and for my sister, whom I recommended this to as well!).

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