Let’s Talk About Sleep

This post originally appeared on Dr. Karisse Callender’s blog Islander Journey on June 25, 2018.


By Karisse Callender

I recently attended a presentation on sleep and what lack of sleep does to your body. We got a magazine with information on sleep, a bath bomb, and a lavender roll-on! (jackpot!)

2018-05-22 09.44.09It wasn’t the first time I heard this information, and yet I found myself feeling surprised while the presenter shared the information from the National Sleep Foundation. How come? There’s so much information about the importance of sleep, how much we should get, and developing good sleep hygiene. So why was this information so surprising to me? I think it’s because I take this for granted and just go about my day without thinking about the quality of my sleep unless I feel tired during the day.

Since I attended that presentation, I’ve been thinking about my sleep habits and how I prepare for bedtime. So, random but not random, when I got home from the presentation I cleaned up my night table and put up tips for preparing for bed in a nice frame. I diffused oils, changed the sheets and was excited to get into bed. I could not sleep! I did everything we talked about and just couldn’t sleep! Ha! How ironic, right? Anyways…let’s get back to this sleep talk.

I also experience sleep difficulties on and off. So I decided to pay closer attention to my sleep habits and decided to track my sleep. I also kept a log/journal to track what happened in my day/my mood/food/activities (I know…i’m a little extra). Here’s a look at my sleep chart for one week. I think I may continue keeping a sleep log.

fullsizeoutput_a29It is quite helpful to observe and notice how much I sleep as I can also make connections between the number of hours of sleep and other things that happen in my day.

So, although you may know this information already, I want to share some tips I learned to help with getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Keep your bedroom as comfortably cool as possible (it’s also a good excuse to have lots of cozy blankets and pillows on the bed!)
  • Try to sleep in a dark room (even the light from clocks can disturb your sleep. You can always try using an eye mask or cover the clock, or get room darkening drapes)
  • Avoid eating and exercise at least 2 hours before bed
  • Limit your use of technology (yes, put your phone down and get off social media!) at least 1 hour before bed.
  • Limit liquid intake before bedtime (mostly to avoid getting up several times per night to go to the bathroom).

It’s also a good idea to develop a routine for bedtime – that way you create a habit with activities that pretty much sets you up for classical conditioning. In other words, when you have a consistent routine, once you begin that process your body gets the hint that you are winding down to sleep. Depending on your job or family life, it may be difficult to have an exact bedtime; however, your routine to prepare for bed should be as consistent as possible. When I was completing my master’s degree I had a lot going on especially in the last year of the program. It was difficult for me to have a consistent bedtime (and awake time), mostly because I did overnight shifts. I struggled to get to sleep on the nights I did not work and my body was constantly confused. What I realized was that it was more important for me to have consistency with the routine, and not so much the time. Actually, on those mornings when I came off my shift, if I started the routine I did at night, my body began to relax and I could get to sleep (most times).

My sleep routine has been consistent (mostly), although there are nights when I just cannot sleep and I’ve learned to accept that. Here are some of the things I do to prepare for bed (in no specific order):

  • I meditate. I usually begin and end my day with some kind of meditation, whether it’s a guided meditation with a theme or practicing vipassana (insight meditation). I aim to do this daily but there are days when it doesn’t happen.
  • drink a cup of tea (no caffeine). Ideally, I would drink this tea while doing nothing else. Other times, I drink the tea while watching the news or reading.
  • take a shower. This helps me to relax, especially because I use lavender or mint shower gel. Those scents help me to unwind.
  • diffuse essential oils. My bedtime blend is usually a combination of lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and a protective blend to keep things healthy 🙂
  • I cream my hands when I get into bed with anything that has eucalyptus and or lavender in it (sounds weird….I know ha!)
  • Once I’m settled in bed, I put on an eye mask (most times)

The great thing is that you can make your bedtime routine whatever you would like it to be. The important thing is that it creates a relaxing environment and allows you to unwind.

Do you have a bedtime routine? If not, think about some simple ways that you can begin to create one that is unique to your needs.

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die.
And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

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