Sleep is Suddenly a Luxury I Grant Myself

Many years past when I started drinking more water, I developed a natural thirst for it but that only came after some time. Now I drink tons of water daily because it is a routine that is set in stone.

I, like many other men and women in my “era” of post 50, have struggled with sleep. I went to bed late, trying to multi-task and do way too much while at home since I was working full time. (That usually meant writing for my sideline until the wee hours)

Even with that going to bed late, I was still restless, and could barely get 4 to 5 hours of sleep in. I did not realize it was taking a toll on my body until I went to a nutritionist. He looked at me and told me that I have excellent “Mediterranean” skin, and that I am blessed. He could also look at me and tell I was plenty hydrated. Still, he looked at me with concern and asked how much sleep I get.

I told him the sad truth of tossing and turning, getting up frequently, and going to bed late and waking up early.

“Do you want to transform your life?” he asked. “Then get more sleep. Hit your bed at 9 pm the latest and read until you get tired. You will then sleep full nights. You need 7-8 hours a night at your age.”

I was shocked, but prepared to listen. Later that same week by coincidence, a health program I get from work sent around a tutorial about the importance of sleep to weight maintenance and overall health.

So I took the nutritionist’s advice and started going to earlier yoga, showering, and winding down with a book or music on my iPad in bed. Soon nine became late for me to go to bed. No Melatonin needed, no sleep-aids at all needed. I was allowing my body to wind down and relax naturally to prepare for sleep – something I had never done.

Magically, I was falling asleep and staying asleep for 8 full hours. (still with a minor wake-up or two though).

After a few weeks, I felt so much better. I felt less stressed, more energetic, and, yes, healthier. I was thinking more clearly and feeling less scatterbrained. My focus improved.

Now, a few months later I am accustomed to getting 8-9 hours of sleep, with the 9 hour stretches coming on weekends when I can sleep in.

I am finally looking forward to that wind-down time in bed, getting to bed earlier, (as I was not into television anyway) and I feel it is a luxury I am now granting myself because it is making a remarkable difference.

So the sign above is true.

The little complication came when we set our clocks back an hour this past weekend. Suddenly 9 pm seemed a bit late. (Well it should have seemed that because it was 10 pm rolled back!) With it getting dark earlier, on non-Yoga nights I may be going into my bed at 8 or 8:30, and falling asleep by nine. If that happens, and yes it did the first few nights, I will adjust. I am just enjoying my rest lately too much to try to mess with it.

So call me the old lady who is in bed by nine, and sometimes earlier. Then take a good look at how refreshed I look. (Someone at work asked me if I was using new makeup or foundation – I use neither – so it was noticed.)

My husband and I are into natural ways to stay healthier, and there is nothing more natural than re-training your body to get more sleep. Try it. It’s my tip for the year.

2 comments

  • This blog was unusual in the sense that it left me wanting more. More answers on how you’re handling the usual things that can interrupt your bedtime goal. Are you and Gary eating earlier so you have time for your food to digest before you go to sleep? There’s a reason retired people, living in Florida, eat dinner at 4:00 in the afternoon! Are you planning to watch programs you DVR at dinnertime ( i.e. The Bachelorette and the award shows)? What do you plan to do when you get invitations to go out on weekend evenings? Of course, I hope this works out for you. Personally, it would never work for me. Warren doesn’t get home from work until 6:45. If I was going to bed at 9, we would have very little time together during the week. We have season tickets to three theaters… all scheduled on weekday nights, so we can get together with friends on weekend nights. One of my New Year’s resolutions last year was to get 8 hours of sleep a night. My goal was to go to bed by midnight and get up by 8. I diligently kept that resolution for about 2 weeks. These days, I have my alarm set for 8:30, although I will frequently wake up earlier. However, many nights I don’t get to sleep until after 2 a.m. . The lack of sleep is catching up to me. In the past few weeks I have been conking out. I’m missing parts of every evening show I have attended, ( no matter how loud). Also, if there is a lull in my busy schedule, I can fall asleep during the day: reading the newspaper, checking out my Twitter feed, or Facebook news feed. Now that I’m eating earlier, (since it takes 4-5 hours for my food to digest) I think I’m ready to commit again to my 12-8 bedtime routine. I can only do this on the evenings that I don’t have commitments. Four out of seven nights is better than none!

  • I’m with you, Arlene! We try to be in bed by 9:00a.m., as we’re usually up at 5:00 and want our 8 hours. Going to bed at 9:00 means we need to have dinner, no later tan 6:00p.m., as the experts recommend not sleeping within 3 hours of eating! It’s tough on the weekends when we get invited out and people don’t want to meet until 6 or 7!! I don’t sleep well when I’ve had a late dinner.

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