Give Me Sleep, or Give Me Death

Sleep is something I’m hugely passionate about because it’s something that I haven’t always had in ample supply. The cause of my health crash in 2012 was undiagnosed sleep apnea paired with terrible insomnia, but these were problems I had as far back as my late teens. Because quality sleep so often eluded me, I came to almost fetishize beds and sleep. There was no greater bliss than a good night’s rest. I actually still feel that way to a large degree.

Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus by Kauffmann

Even if you don’t have health issues related to sleep, you still might have trouble sleeping well. Here are some tips to get a better night’s sleep that I’ve found work for me (in addition to medical care).

  1. Have a regular bedtime and wake time. Aim for eight hours of sleep. This is a dream for many people, but it is attainable. And it IS important. It’s for your health. Because I take a little longer to fall asleep and usually wake up a couple times a night, I give myself nine hours of bed time to account for that lost minutes.
  2. Sleep in a cool place. Open windows, turn on fans, or adjust the thermostat as you see fit.
  3. Sleep in a quiet, dark space. This means NO TV for background noise or visual stimulation.
  4. Invest in a supportive pillow according to your personal needs. I prefer a memory foam pillow that is a little firm.
  5. You need quality bedding. Sleep on cool, breathable sheets. Cotton and bamboo are both great for these qualities. Also, get a duvet. There are summer and winter weights. And it means you only need to fluff it to make up your bed in the morning.
  6. Don’t eat anything for two hours before bed.
  7. Don’t use screens for two hours before bed. I know this is a difficult one, but it’s worth it.
  8. Wear comfortable, breathable pajamas, or sleep in the nude. I’ve seen this topic debated on which option is better.
  9. If you can afford it, buy a good mattress. This is a pricey one, so it’s something most of us really have to save up to get.
  10. Take care of your medical needs if you have any. This is NOT optional. Talk to your doctor if you have serious concerns about your health or sleep.

**Optional: Use a body pillow if you like to have a cushion between your knees but also like to cuddle something. Let’s be honest – spooning a partner can get sweaty. Sleep on a satin pillowcase for gentler fabric against your hair or on a towel that you change frequently to combat greasy hair or acne.

On the more behavioral side of this are some fluffy feel-good things that I enjoy using. I like to do a wind down activity at night with relaxing music or nature sounds. The activity might be meditation, reading, journaling, or doing a Sudoku puzzle. I keep a bottle of water nearby to drink and sometimes sip an herbal tea before bed (lavender, chamomile, or peppermint). Some people enjoy keeping a dream journal (handwritten or recorded), wearing a satin eye mask, using lavender pillow mist or oil in a diffuser, or applying a soothing night cream. It’s all up to personal preference.

Self-Portrait Hesitating Between the Arts of Music and Painting by Kauffmann

Here are this week’s suggestions for fun and enriching activities:

  • Relaxing Music: “The Mummer’s Dance” by Loreena McKinnett. You can listen to it on YouTube or find her album The Book of Secrets on Amazon or streaming.
  • Soothing Sounds: “Mysterious Forest Sounds” by The Guild of Ambience.
  • Puzzle: Mahjongg. You can find the game here along with everything you need to know about how to play.
  • Movie: Sleeping Beauty (1959). You can find it on Amazon or on a streaming service.
  • Creative Prompt (write, draw, paint, sculpt, photograph, or collage something based on this subject): sleep
  • Mythology Lesson: Hypnos. Read about him here, and do a little further research if the mood takes you!
  • Short Reading: “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood.” You can read it here, or you can listen to it on YouTube.

Try one activity per day, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a more vibrant daily round.

Erato, the Muse of Lyric Poetry with a Putto by Kauffmann

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