The Recovering Farmer

Monday, January 21, 2013

Getting a Better Sleep

Did you know that you spend one third of your life sleeping? That means if you live to be 75 you will have spent 25 years sleeping. Almost seems like a waste of time. However, as I have found out this week, having the right amount of sleep is very important for maximising your life. In work and play.

Who knew? Having a hot bath before going to bed is a bad idea. I told someone just last week that I could sleep better if I had a bath before going to bed. Apparently that is not the case. I also should not be having anything hot to drink. No tea. Hmmm. Destroys some myths, me thinks.

Having done the tour with the Sleepless In Manitoba group has given me so many tools to utilize to better fall asleep. Not that I normally have issues, but like everything else, improving something like sleep can only be a benefit.

While participating in a call in radio show early this week, one caller asked which came first, stress or lack of sleep. My response was that it was not a chicken and egg thing, it is more a matter of each individual. In my work I see many people who are facing an incredible amount of stress and because of this have a difficult time sleeping. I have also heard from people who feel that their stress tolerance is lowered because they have a difficult time sleeping. Depends on who you are.

Aside from sleep issues such as sleep apnea, stress does create difficulties in sleep. Some people have a difficult time falling asleep. Others have no problem falling asleep but wake up during the night and when the anxiety hits, have a tough time going back to sleep.

I am like that. At times it felt like my brain was screaming for my body to shut down. Have a sleep. Perhaps it realized that when sleeping at least I would not be stewing about all the stress in my life, real or perceived. But then I would wake up and the anxiety would strike with a vengeance. That would make me toss and turn and not get the rest I so desperately wanted and needed. I learned a trick that really worked well for me and one that I still use. I found my happy place.

I realize that may sound hokey to some. However, let me explain. As you know by now I am an avid golfer. So what I would do is conjure up a golf game in my mind. I would pick a golf course that I know well and start playing it in my mind. It worked. Not sure I ever made it past the 4th hole and I would be back asleep.

In reality it is a form of mindfulness. Mindfulness is an excellent tool to use. It is a well-known fact that it is virtually impossible to force anxious thoughts from your mind. It is a lot easier to force pleasant thoughts into your mind. Doing a breathing exercise also works well. Take the time to breath. Take note of air going through your nose as you inhale. Feel the various sensations in your body as the lungs fill. Then exhale. Clear your mind as you do this and focus only on breathing. This takes practice but works. It brings you back to the present. Away from those thoughts that are creating anxiety, thoughts of things that happened in the past and fears for tomorrow. Try it. It works. Make it a good one.

No comments:

Post a Comment