January 27

Good Sleep Hygiene

On my Facebook feed I see a lot, a whole lot, of people complaining about insomnia. I’ve also been reading Arianna Huffington’s very helpful and insightful book Thrive, which I highly recommend. At one point Huffington says that the one thing each of us could do to improve the quality of our lives is to get an additional 30 minutes of sleep each night. Sleep, however, remains elusive even to those of us who go to bed early enough to get that extra 30 minutes. Although regular exercise and minimizing caffeine has been extremely helpful in my getting deep sleep, it doesn’t always do the trick. Unlike Miss Kitty (above), a former foster kitten who was a world-class sleeper, most of us have bodies that are tired but minds that aren’t ready to rest.

Several years ago I heard a sleep expert talk about the importance of “sleep hygiene.” I thought that was a great term and one that I had never considered. The expert spoke did not dwell on the commonly recommended ideas such as nice sheets, comfortable sleepwear, not having a cell phone near the bed and cool air in the room but rather spoke about spending the hour before you want to sleep preparing your brain to sleep. I imagine it as gradually closing the open files on the desktop of my brain. I actually ask Bill not to bring up at 10:30pm questions about our business or decisions I need to make because that re-opens the files that I’m trying to close to prepare for sleep. That’s the opposite of good sleep hygiene. I also like this guided meditation known as a Yoga Nidra for Sleep. Nice sheets are a bonus.