Wednesday, August 8, 2012

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Photo courtesy

I love to sleep. I could happily sleep until mid-morning and then indulge in siesta that afternoon. My penchant for sleep is one arena in which Himself and I completely differ. After 15 years of marriage, he still manages to look astounded when I announce I’m going to take a Sunday afternoon nap. To him, it’s a waste of time. To me, it's anything but.

I get a lot of thinking done when I’m dozing, in that twilight time between awake and asleep. I make plans. I consider decorating ideas. I plot books I might one day write. I percolate. As an introvert, I consider this time well spent.

But the percolating is merely a nice by-product. My end goal is rest, and I’m serious about it.

When I turned forty (we won’t discuss when that actually occurred), my neighbor, who is older, asked knowingly, “How’s your sleep?” Not good, I had to admit. And for someone like me, this was a crisis situation. She nodded. Turns out, when she turned forty, her sleep changed, and not for the better. Sleep, or the lack of it, is a hot topic of conversation for friends my age.

I set about trying to remedy my difficulty, and over the last few years, I discovered a few things that have worked for me. Just in case good sleep is eluding you, I’m happy to share these ideas. I’ve even come up with a really catchy title:

Ellen’s Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
  • No caffeine after 3:00 PM. Chocolate, of course, is excepted. If you are susceptible to blood sugar rises and dips, then consider avoiding sugar after 3:00 as well.
  • A cool room. When it’s too warm, good sleep is impossible. When I’m in the land of constant air conditioning, I turn on my ceiling fan when it’s time to sleep, since I can’t lower the thermostat (unless I want a hefty electric bill, which I don’t).
  • Darkness. I use a sleep mask. I’ve tried several, and the best I’ve happened upon is made by Earth Therapeutics. It’s larger than most, generously padded, and features an adjustable headband with Velcro. This is much more comfortable than trying to rest with a big knot at the back of your head.
  • Quiet. I’m a light sleeper, so noises interrupt my rest. In college (dorm life is loud), I slept with a small fan for white noise, and sometimes I still do. But for about a year now, I’ve used soft foam ear plugs. Bliss!
  • Pillows. The right pillow is essential. It took me a few years to find just the right one. It's a firm feather pillow that I inherited from the family from whom we bought our cabin. What good fortune! I also sleep with a body pillow, which I acquired when I was expecting Miss Priss.

Some people swear by scents such as lavender, but these aren't crucial for me. You may want to try some aromatherapy to see how it works for you.

What sleep tricks and techniques do you use? I'd love to hear about them.

Sweet dreams!


  1. I spend every night sleeping/waking/sleeping/waking . . . IT's frustrating. The only thing that guarantees a good night's rest is being so dog-tired that I can't stand up any more! :) Thank you for sharing your tips on NOBH! I will be trying them!

  2. Hmmm... I will take note and pass your tips to my husband too. We sleep fine, but whenever any of us is a bit stressed out, our particular night suffers.

    Like you I plan and plot in bed before I fall asleep, and I am not an introvert at all.

    I also have noticed that, as a person who drinks no caffeine or has no chocolate regularly, whenever I drink an iced tea now after 3:00 as you say, I stay up until late at night for I cannot conceal my sleep.

  3. I have a lot in common with you. I love to sleep as well -- and my husband can get by on just 4 or 5 hours a night and rarely takes a nap.

    I try not to be on the computer before bed... and I agree with the no caffeine - and no dessert at dinner really helps me, too.

    Sweet dreams!

  4. Glad to know I'm not the only one! I often get up once or twice a night and then have some difficulties getting BACK to sleep. I think the no computer at night rule is a good one. Hard to get settled down to sleep when my mind's stimulated!


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