Sleep Challenge Check In

February 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

Image Credit: HowStuffWorks

So…is it working?

Have you been logging 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night.  Awaking refreshed and more focused for the day ahead?  To be honest and better yet, to be fair, I have found this to be quite the challenge.  We are now sixteen days into our twenty-one day sleep challenge and I find myself having to break many other habits to develop this new one.

Namely, no more cups of water past 8pm.  Otherwise it will interrupt my sleep and have me up and down throughout the night.  Secondly, no more using Fridays as excuses to stay up till all hours of the night “catching up” on programs and reading that I didn’t have a chance to get to during the week…it’s just insane to think that one night of staying up late won’t make a difference.  The Friday before last I did that, and I paid for it dearly, because one sleepless night begat a very tired morning, begat unnecessary grazing, which then begat a late night supper, which then begat another restless night.  So folks I committed to walk the straight and narrow to be a prude in every sense of the word and for the rest of this challenge there are no Free Fridays or Whimsical Wednesdays.  To help us complete this challenge I procured some ideas via magazine articles and the web on how to get better sleep.  Please do share your own tried and true methods as well.


  • Do Not Stress – I originally began this list with the Cherry Juice, but in light of many recent events both personal and public I think it best to start with stress because it usually encompasses worry, anxiety and many other issues that can not only disrupt our sleep but also put a lot of strain on our mental and physical health.  That said, many sites and health studies implore us to avoid stress which can help in many areas, sleep included.  If you find you are worried, anxious, angry, mulling over the day while trying to sleep at night, consider one of the following ways of de-stressing your mind and eventually your body.
  1. Know what things are in and out of your control, and try to release those things which are beyond your own means.  A couple once shared their new night-time mantra after many years of trying to squeeze 48 hours into a 24 hour day “What’s done is done, what’s not is not.  And now it’s time to go to bed.
  2. Alice Tremaine over at Geranium Seeds recommends turning of your thoughts once in bed.  So that instead of replaying the days or even future events over and over again, she employs her senses and uses visualization techniques to focus on what she is feeling rather than thinking.  To learn more about these exercises check out her full post here.
  3.  Prayer is an effective and natural way of relieving stress as it offers an outlet beyond ones core group of friends and family to share life’s burdens with.  Some people find they receive clarity about a situation after praying, because the process of recognizing our own human limits to process everything can be freeing and rewarding in itself.
  4.  Maintain a worry journal.  Have a problem write it down.  According to “Many times thoughts and thinking will keep us from relaxing and getting to sleep. Try keeping a small notebook next to you with a pen and when thinking or thoughts persist write them down using a book light or another source of dim light. Writing them down will help to forget about them and allow for a peaceful sleep onset.”
  • Consider Cherry Juice – According to an article in Taste For Life magazine, “A recent study found that participants who drank about an ounce of tart cherry juice concentrate (diluted in about 6 ounces of water) in the morning and in the evening slept more than a half hour longer and had better sleep efficiency than a placebo group (Tasteforlife February 2012)”
  • Stick To a Sleep Schedule – The Mayo Clinic advises us to “Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night. There’s a caveat, though. If you don’t fall asleep within about 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. Go back to bed when you’re tired. If you agonize over falling asleep, you might find it even tougher to nod off.”
  • Create a Bedtime Ritual – This is one of the first things they tell you to do with your baby as a new parent.  Follow the same routine every night, be it a bath, story, and relaxing massage so that baby knows when its time for that big sleep.  And in many cases it works, until they start teething.  So why not let us try it, after all we do have all our adult teeth.
  • Turn off Lights, TVs, Phones and other Gadgets that Emit Noise and Ambient Light – I do not like having a television in the bedroom, but then I also don’t have one in any other part of my house.  However, if possible, try to leave televisions, laptops, and work related materials out of the bedroom so that it becomes a place of retreat, slumber, and eventually sleep.  If you find that morning sunlight filters in about a half hour too early, you may also try using black out curtains.  And if you have that nasty habit of falling asleep to the evening news, try using one of these other methods for lulling yourself to sleep.
  • Avoid Alcohol as a Sleeping Aid C. Simmons Over at Dumb Little Man provides this advice stating, ” The most common myth found among people is that they believe alcohol helps in the sleep. But the fact is alcohol may initially act as sedative, but it produces a number of sleep-impairing effects in the long run.”
  • Start with the Basics– If you are fortunate, buy a comfortable mattress, a nice pillow good for side lying or back sleep whichever you fancy.  Get good sheets, not scratchy or too warm, too cold or too big.  All of these HGTV type items can really make a difference in terms of comfort level.  Also think about adjusting the temperature in your home when you are sleeping so that you do not end up too warm, or perhaps too cold.

Til next time, sleep well,



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