Last month I had an appointment with my doctor to talk about my sleep issues.
I usually don’t have a problem falling asleep. But I wake up numerous times during the night.
A good night of sleep means I only wake up two to three times a night.
A bad night can be two to three times but I am awake for long periods of time. A bad night can also be me waking up up to 10 times a night.
I pretty much already knew the basics to help get a good night’s sleep.
But my doctor and I reviewed them and she added something to the list.
Some of the habits are:
- Going to bed about the same time at night I go to bed usually between 10 and 11 p.m.
- Waking up about the same time in the morning I usually wake up between 6:30 and 7 a.m.
- Limited caffeine and not too late in the day I usually just have one cup of coffee in the morning; Tea during the day is decaf
- Napping should be limited: not too long or too late in the day If I nap it is usually not more than 30 minutes and I regularly practice Restorative Yoga in the afternoons
- Good habits with water and diet Yup!
- Reducing screen time before bed at least one hour (or even two) before the head hits the pillow UH??!!
Um, what do people do if they aren’t looking at a screen?
My doctor told me to read a book.
So for more than a month I have been taking myself upstairs at least an hour before I plan to go to sleep. I do my nightly routine (washing face, brushing teeth, etc.). And then I get cozy and read for 45 minutes to an hour. Sometimes longer. Sometimes for less time if I am really tired.
The good news is I am breaking bad habits, especially the one where I would lull myself to sleep with the TV on. The even better news is I am reading more. I really do enjoy reading but have gotten out of the habit lately. And I have so many books already on my shelf I haven’t read yet.
My doctor told me any screen time is bad for the eyes and reduces the release of melatonin to the brain.
I told her I usually don’t have a hard time falling asleep. But I wake up a lot. She said the screen time could still be an issue. So this is an experiment. I have to give it at least three months to know if it is working.
From an article on Vox Technology, “… even the non-harmful portion of blue light (coming from a screen) sends a signal to our brains that it is daytime, revving up our heart rate and alertness. It mimics the sun, basically. You do not want to be lying in bed at night, having brushed your teeth and set your alarm, staring into the sun. It’s not a recipe for good sleep.”
From an article in the Washington Post, “blue light is especially good at preventing the release of melatonin, a hormone associated with nighttime.”
Also from the Washington Post article, “ordinarily, the pineal gland, a pea-size organ in the brain, begins to release melatonin a couple of hours before your regular bedtime. The hormone is no sleeping pill, but it does reduce alertness and make sleep more inviting.
However, light — particularly of the blue variety — can keep the pineal gland from releasing melatonin, thus warding off sleepiness. You don’t have to be staring directly at a television or computer screen: If enough blue light hits the eye, the gland can stop releasing melatonin.”
My doctor told me that the Kindle is also a screen and should be avoided at night. I don’t have a Kindle. But I have an iPhone, iPad with the Kindle app, my trusty laptop and, of course, two nice big screen TVs.
So a regular big ol’ book it is for me before I go to sleep. The jury is still out on whether on not this is helping with my sleep issues (but I still need to give i