Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Real Snoozefest

While I like to think of myself as being talented in a lot of arenas, I am, by far, most skilled in the art of sleeping. Ever since I was a child, I have been able to fall asleep anywhere -- on the floor of an airplane, sitting upright in a chair, and once, famously, in broad daylight on a pile of ropes on the Nantucket ferry (I awoke with rope imprints embedded in one side of my face, and a sunburn on the other). And I'm not just good at sleeping, I am passionate about it. I figure if you are going to spend six to ten hours of each day doing something, you should probably enjoy it (that goes for your job, too, but that's a topic for another day).
But I am aware that not everyone has my innate talent for sleeping, and for some people it is actually a major point of stress and challenge in their lives (hence all those drugs that make people sleepwalk naked around their cul-de-sac). And not getting enough sleep can have disastrous consequences for your health, beauty, productivity, and state of mind. Sleep loss has been linked to "a wide spectrum of medical conditions including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, certain cancers, and obesity "*, not to mention wrinkles and those ugly bags under your eyes. I always feel sorry for people who brag about how they can "get by" on just a few hours of sleep per night, since they are likely headed for the "big sleep" sooner than they would like. So, for those of you who are a little somnolently-challenged, here are some tips from a master sleeper for how to get the shut-eye you need and so richly deserve.

Make Your Bed (Fabulous): Just because I can sleep anywhere, doesn't mean I curl up on a bed of nails each night. In fact, I pay special attention to making my bed a dreamy (literally) place to be. A good mattress, soft sheets, warm blankets, and downy pillows can make a huge difference in how well you sleep each night. You don't have to splurge on the 1,000,000 thread-count sheets, but don't totally cheap out- this is an investment in your health and happiness. For my tips on how to make a great bed, click here.

Set the Mood: Studies show that people sleep best in a cool room, in a warm bed. So turn down the thermostat (Al Gore and the polar bears will thank you for this, too), and pull up that extra blanket. Light can be a source of sleep disturbance, too, so invest in good light-blocking curtains, and a nice, soft sleep mask. If you are sensitive to sound or live on a busy street, try Hearos ear plugs, or run a fan for white noise while you sleep. Reserve your bedroom for sleep, dressing, and, um, intimacy, only. Keep the TV in the living room, and refrain from bringing work, computers or anything that might be stressful into that space.

Exercise and Eat Right (But Not Right Before Bed): People who exercise regularly sleep much better than those who don't, but that doesn't mean you should do your whole Tae Bo video right before bed. Leave at least two hours between exercising and going to bed. Likewise for eating- being sated by a healthful dinner is good, but a heavy, greasy or spicy meal can cause indigestion (and really weird dreams). Finish dinner a few hours before turning in, and, if you are hungry before bed, eat a banana, which contains potassium and magnesium - natural sleep aids. And avoid caffeine and alcohol, too, Captain Obvious.

Easy Does It: Don't expect your brain to be able to from sixty to zero in ten seconds. Spend the last hour or so before going to bed refraining from anything too stimulating or mentally stressful- don't pay bills or check your email or get in an argument with your spouse. Instead, take a soothing bath or do some light reading.

Sleep Supplies: try taking Schiff Knock-Out vitamins before bed. They are all-natural, really work, and won't leave you drowsy or groggy in the morning. Bring a glass or bottle of water to your bedside table each night, so if you wake up thirsty in the night you can take a sip and fall right back to sleep without getting up and trekking to the kitchen. Keep a notepad and a pen next to your bed for those random thoughts and ideas that pop into your head when you are dozing off. Jot them down to deal with in the morning and you'll be able to put them out of your head and relax.

Sleep tight!


Evidence that I am a sleeping prodigy. On a bench on a boat in Greece, 1985.


Jade said...

Jake needs to take some notes from you!!

Unknown said...

I remember that boat in Greece. Thanks for the heads up about the Schiff stuff.

Unknown said...


Gecko said...

Aww, Lil, so cute. It's no wonder you are so passionate about your beauty sleep. Your Mom puts more layers of beautifully mangled linens on a bed than I have ever seen, and used to send you off camping equipped with lovely soft down quilts and pillows with some to share.:)