I don’t know about you, but sometimes I swear my brain never stops. It is always thinking, making lists of groceries and projects, birthdays and holidays I need to remember. There are appointments to make, vacations to plan, people to call. If that weren’t enough, this wacky head of mine is always dreaming, constantly creating.Yup, my brain is an endless stream of activity. But believe it or not, I’m better than I once was.
A few years ago, this crazy brain of mine kept me from sleeping. While everyone in our house slept soundly, I would lay in bed thinking of all the things I needed to do. A little voice inside me would whisper, “Get up. You have chores to do, a million things to take care of.” When I finally did drift off, it was a restless slumber filled with bizarre dreams that would soon wake me up.
Immediately, my head was barraged with lists and umpteen projects I was certain were more important than sleep. I’d jump out of bed, make lists, do laundry, and clean. By the time everyone in my family was awake, I’d already had a full morning.
On the outside, I was the perfect organized mom and wife, everything neat and tidy, the house completely arranged. But inside, I was one stressed-out tired mess. I was never relaxed. I was always thinking of what needed to be done, the next thing to cross off my ever-growing list.
I didn’t know it then, but my lack of sleep was catching up with me. I lived in a foggy kind of dream, not really living life. And my health, well, it became a series of illness requiring many visits to doctors for viruses and infections I could no longer fight off.
I needed a serious wake-up call. Many years later, I got one.
It happened the day I was in an auto accident and sustained a brain injury. It sounds terrible, because it was. And yet, in some weird way, I think it saved my life.
After the accident, both my body and brain were broken. I would find that the only true way to heal would be with a ton of sleep. I think it’s safe to say I slept more than I was awake. It took me a few years to heal, and during those years, I made a discovery.
I liked sleep. I’d never known what good sleep felt like, or what it meant to wake up refreshed. Even as a teenager, I’d never been a good sleeper, and now, here I was, sleeping eight hours at night, waking up with energy and a fresh mind.
Unfortunately, I’m a slow learner. Soon, my old personality crept in, and along with it, that little voice that said, “Don’t sleep. You have too many things to do.”
In some ways, I’d missed that voice. It represented the old me, the one before the accident. And yet, I knew I could no longer stay awake at night like I once had. My brain would never be able to function.
It was time to still that voice. I came up with a plan, one that has me sleeping through almost every single night. This plan has changed my life. It’s now a rarity for me to wake up during the wee hours of the morning. And unless I’m having a severe allergy attack, I hardly ever suffer from foggy-brain.
What is this plan that helps me sleep sound every night? I’m so glad you asked.
My Simple Plan to a Better Night’s Sleep:
Yoga – I learned yoga after my brain injury. The stretching helped my body, but it was the breathing that saved me. My blood pressure went down, and my muscles relaxed. Even my spirit was lighter. I do deep breathing as I go to sleep.
Exercise – Working out is important to me. Something, every single day. Walk, turn the radio on and dance, garden, play with children, lift weights, do push-ups. Something to get the heart pumping. Try it. Your body will thank you.
Eat healthy – We all know that healthy eating is important for many reasons, but one is helping you sleep better. Avoiding excess sugar, especially before bed, can aid in a good night’s sleep.
Drink Water – Drink plenty of water. Water keeps muscles lubricated, which helps to eliminate those pesky nighttime leg cramps.
Magnesium – According to Dr. Mercola (mercola.com), eighty percent of Americans do not get enough magnesium. Magnesium can be found in spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, and a host of other foods (do a search for “foods with magnesium”). If I do have that rare bad night of sleep, I know I need a magnesium boost. The next night, I add Calm (a powdered form of magnesium) to a glass of water. Voila. I am out cold the rest of the night, and wide-awake the next morning. Another great way to get magnesium is by taking a hot bath in Epsom salts, something I try to do once a week in the winter. The bath alone is relaxing, but the Epsom salts soak into the muscles and skin, relaxing every inch of the body.
Be Quiet – One hour before bed stay calm and quiet. Watch something silly, read something light, drink tea.
Have a Routine – I used to think routines were just for kids, but it seems as if everyone’s body likes routine. Keep it the same every night, as much as possible. That includes bedtime.
Give thanks – I give thanks for something before I fall asleep. It sounds kind of silly, I know, but there’s something about this simple little routine that makes my night go better. I don’t go to sleep stressed, or angry, or upset. I go to bed happy, because I have found something to give thanks for. I love falling asleep happy.
Most of all, still that nagging little voice -Nothing is important enough to keep you from sleep.
There you have it, simple ways to get a good night’s sleep.
Good night everyone.