I Really Need to Learn How to Sleep

If you’ve read any of my articles, you know how much of an advocate I am for a healthy lifestyle. Our overall health plays such a huge role in our eye health and I love sharing everything I’ve learned with others who may be seeking answers on what they can do to help their eyes.

I need sleep

I am so good at eating well. I exercise regularly and enjoy it. I drink lots and lots of water. I have researched and genetically tested myself twice to be sure I’m taking the right vitamins and supplements for my unique needs. But you guys, I am the worst at sleeping. The worst.

Insomnia or just lack of sleep?

I wouldn’t say I have insomnia because I do fall asleep. It’s just that my body wants to wake up between 2:00 and 4:00 AM every single day. Like, WIDE awake thinking of all.the.things. And when I am ‘sleeping’, I’m pretty restless. Plus, I’m a really light sleeper and any noise at all wakes me up... then I’m just awake for what seems like foreverrrrrr after that. If one of my son’s sneeze down the hall, I hear it. If the dog whimpers, I hear it. Nevermind the kitten who loves to sit on my face at night. Literally, on my face. Anyone else have a cat that does this?

I’m a worrier. My worries love to shine brightly in the middle of the night as if there wasn’t an entire day for me to be awake while doing the worrying. I worry a lot about my eyes and the future of my vision. Although I recognize this about myself and would love to say I can handle it on my own, I see an amazing therapist regularly who is helping me. More on that in another article. Man………….MAN, do I need sleep.

Why we need sleep

Until recently, I thought that sleep was a period of rest, and in some ways it is because our bodies are not in motion, we are not ‘doing things’ while sleeping. But, I’m learning that sleep is actually a period of time where a lot of activity is happening inside of our body systems to help keep us alive and well.

Sleep aids our amazing body systems in growing, healing, restoring, and resting (physical health). It allows us to rejuvenate and levels out our hormones, affecting our mood and feelings (mental and emotional health) and helps us be able to retain information and function while at work or school.

Rest is a vital part of our basic needs. So much so that if you don’t get enough, you can become more than just irritable. Without enough sleep for prolonged periods of time our chances of getting sick increases, we can become more forgetful, have higher chances of becoming overweight, and are at greater risk for heart disease and diabetes.

How much sleep do we need?

One of the main reasons humans sleep is to solidify memories and retain information. According to The National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, while teenagers need between 8 and 10. School-aged children need about need roughly 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night, while toddlers need anywhere from 11 to 14 hours. Basically, the younger the person, the more new information they’re trying to retain each day, the more sleep they need.

What can we do?

Here are a few things you can try to get more sleep:

  • Try to be consistent with your bedtime and morning wake time.
  • Meditate or do something relaxing before bedtime.
  • Stay away from caffeinated beverages later in the day.
  • Darken your room as much as possible.
  • Turn off all electronics so they do not disturb your sleep with notifications.
  • Do not scroll your phone or tablet right before bed. This awakens your brain and makes it harder to fall asleep.
  • Only use your bed for bedroom activities, meaning do not eat in bed or watch TV in bed. This can trick your brain into thinking ‘awake’ type things happen there instead of sleeping.
  • Try to resist the urge to take a nap during the day.
  • Eliminate alcohol.
  • If things are severe enough, consult your physician and see if they can help. There are sleep aids you can take, but as with anything else you ingest there are possible side effects to consider.

Do you have any tips?

I don’t know about y’all, but already I have enough on my plate to worry about. I don’t need a lack of sleep to be one of them. I’ve tried many of the things listed above to get better sleep, but I’m learning that they don’t always work very well for me. Sleep isn’t something I can just force myself to do, no matter how bad I want it. I can force myself to exercise or eat healthily for optimal health, but I cannot force sleep.

Does anyone have any tips for me? Let’s brainstorm together.

Andrea Junge

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