Sleep is essential to good health. I consider myself fortunate, in that I am an excellent sleeper. I don't have a problem getting to sleep, and I sleep deeply (to Meri's chagrin). However, I do realize that other people have a problem with my sleeping; it's not that I snore, but more about when I go to sleep. I go to sleep, at seemingly odd times, because I am available and ready to sleep when my body tells me. So, I listen. If you are not making yourself available to sleep because of (needless) activities like watching Breaking Bad Season 10 Episode 3, you will inevitably curtail the length, but also the quality, of that sleep. In fact, I am criticized (unfairly in my opinion!) for allowing myself to go to sleep before the kids (what's wrong with falling asleep at 6:30 pm) or for falling asleep during dinner (I admit, we were throwing a dinner party). This is my health and well being we are talking about! In this week's The Loupe, we delve into the ins and outs of sleep (zzzzzzzzzz).
Step 1: Admit you have a Problem
Circle with Disney
I have been using this device/system for over three years. I had been looking for a system to track and limit my children's online activities. I didn't want to be invasive (reading texts, etc.), but I did want to be aware. To be candid, I often turn off much of the functionality. But last week I was annoyed with the seemingly endless hours of watching television and revisited my Circle. What I found was astonishing! My four kids had watched 400+ hours of internet-enabled TV in April (so far). Holy crap! Houston, we have a problem! Don't they have better things to do? Am I a terrible parent for allowing this under my nose? I don't need to answer those questions (nor do you), but I do need to set some reasonable time limits. This device allows you to control activities of devices that are on your wifi network; to be clear, anything done via cellular will not be limited or tracked. You can set time limits, bedtime, and filter content by age. Therefore, I have dialed back the amount of time allowed using video services (typically their computer, which are on wifi), as well as Social media. You can always expand the amount of time, if necessary, but you have the control (stay strong, excessive whining will ensue). Circle even has a mobile application for an additional fee, but it is a bit more invasive, and I have avoided doing that (for the time being). This device is not just for kids, but also a way for anyone to understand their own usage and set artificial limits; everyone could benefit from this!
Step 2: Hug Yourself
I have a bad sleeper in my household (who will remain nameless). I feel terrible and have tried I lot of different things. However, frequent contributor Mindy G. told me about the Gravity Blanket and how it helped a loved one. I bought it instantly and implemented it with great success! Weighted blankets are engineered to be 7-12% of your body weight to relax the nervous system by simulating the feeling of being held or hugged. Research has shown that it increases serotonin and melatonin levels and decreases cortisol levels—improving your mood and promoting restful sleep at the same time. Anecdotally, I have seen my child sleep better for the last week, which is encouraging. It may be hard to sleep out, or even travel, given its weight!
Step 3: Wake up Well Rested
An essential part of sleeping well is executing the wake-up. I used to have anxiety about waking up on time, especially when something requires me to wake up earlier than usual. The only way to resolve this anxiety is to have a reliable system for waking up. I have found that there is no one more reliable than Alexa (Amazon's assistant). I have a standing alarm at 6:00 am. But, I frequently need to wake up (the kids) before then. All I do is tell Alexa what time I want to wake up and she does the rest. You can use any song (or alarm sound) at any volume. My Amazon Show is an essential part of my sleep routine. I do have anxiety when I travel without her ...