MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sleep For Success

From How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream

Excerpt from Chapter 7 “Your Mind/Body Asset Base”


I rarely lose a night's sleep, despite the stressful lifestyle I've chosen, because I promised myself at the start of my career transit that losing sleep over this new career was a symptom of not being able to handle it. Take your sleep very seriously. The minimum you require for functioning with a clear and rested brain is a non-negotiable need. But make sure you've done everything you can to make your sleep restful. To begin with, unless you're allergic to cotton, buy an all-cotton mattress with an all-cotton cover that breathes through the night instead of emitting noxious fumes. Engage only in soothing activities before falling asleep (sex is best during the day). And if you have a telephone in the bedroom or anywhere near (I no longer do), disconnect it! If you know you might be disturbed you’re already disturbed.
I don't watch television before falling asleep because it fills my head with incoming stimuli at a time when I need to shut down the onboard computer so it can reshuffle and sort its programs. Instead, I find reading a half-page of almost anything will instantly knock me out, no matter how charged-up I felt before I began reading.


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Top 5 Sleep Tips
by Nadine Saubers author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fighting Fatigue

1. Stimulants
--Use your bed only for sleep and sex—don’t read or watch TV in bed- and avoid other stimulants including vigorous exercise, caffeine in beverages and such things as caffeine containing medications like Excedrin, smoking, alcohol, and emotionally charged conversations in the evening. Because individuals have their own thresholds for each of these I always say to find your own cut off time. But the general rule of thumb is to limit your caffeine laced drinks to three cups and drink them before 10 am. Just being aware that all of these are factors is the first step in knowing that you have to find your own limitations/thresholds.


2. Sleep environment-- Keep your sleep environment dark, quiet, comfortable and cool. That includes black out shades, drapes, or even an eye mask. Any light at all during the night will disrupt your circadian clock and your ability to sleep, so keep lighted clocks out of your bedroom (use a clock that requires you to push a button on top to illuminate). Some people like to use a fan for white noise to drown out any other noises. Comfort can come from changing your sheets more often and investing in comfortable bed linens and pillows. Temperature is so important-- you need an environment that is around 64-68 degrees. Today there are great pillows like the down alternative gel pillows that are made from polyester that you can you buy 2 King size gel pillows for around 25$. And the deal with changing your sheets often is to reduce itching and feeling hot from things like dust mites. Fewer dust mites can also mean a difference in allergy symptoms. And you should change your pillow when you change your toothbrush, because 10% of the weight of a 2 year old pillow is dust mite droppings.

3. Food
--Eat your last meal at least three hours before you sleep and avoid sugars for bedtime snacks. A meal raises your blood sugar too high, inhibits sleep, and later when your blood sugar drops too low you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep. Instead, have a snack that contains the amino acid tryptophan (a natural relaxant), such as a small cup of milk or some turkey, along with a small piece of fruit or other complex carb to help the tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier. Avoid eating foods that you might be sensitive to because the resulting indigestion or heartburn will keep you awake. Try a small snack of some whole-grain bread, rice, or pasta, yams, a mixed green salad, sautéed vegetables with a small portion of a healthy fat-containing food, such as olive oil, avocado, or nuts or seeds or -herb tea (especially chamomile or peppermint).


4. Schedule
--Maintain a regular sleep and wake schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning in order to help regulate your body's inner clock. Stick to a similar schedule on weekends and days off. Go to bed within an hour of your usual bedtime every night and if you have problems sleeping, avoid naps because they often interfere with nighttime sleep.


5. Light, exercise, and ritual
--Expose yourself to bright light daily and get at least 15 minutes of sunlight on your skin every day and get plenty of exercise. Work out regularly because exercise makes it easier to fall asleep and sleep more soundly. But sporadic exercise will contribute to muscle pain and discomfort that may keep you awake. And people who suffer from fatigue need to exercise in order to make their bodies physically tired enough to want to sleep. Exercise is different for everyone, a brisk walk can be enough to tire some people, other people need to start out more gradually, and others need very vigorous exercise. Bedtime rituals can include making sure you are not exposed to bright light within a couple of hours before bed, taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bed so that your body temperature can fall, deep breathing exercises, and reading something relaxing, writing out your tomorrow’s to do list so that your mind doesn’t have to worry you will forget something, praying, chanting, or meditation whatever you like to do for spiritual practices.

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