a clock, a chocolate bar, a refrigerator, an exercise bike, and a TV

Sleep Awareness Week: 5 Ways I'm Shaking Things Up

The importance of sleep permeates virtually every aspect of our lives from birth onward. A solid night’s sleep is the goal beginning day one. Our parents wanted us to sleep through the night as newborns – and they wanted a full night’s sleep right alongside us. We were put down for daily naps as toddlers and even given time to rest in kindergarten. Regular bedtimes were a high priority throughout childhoodand into middle school .

Let’s face it, if sleep weren’t so important to recharging and energizing our bodies, we wouldn’t hear about it from parents, teachers, and physicians.

Sleep Awareness Week

The National Sleep Foundation has deemed March 14-20th as Sleep Awareness Week.1 While we know how important sleep is for our health, this might be a great time to rework our routines and come at this whole sleep thing from a new angle – especially if you’re like me and suffer from insomnia.

I have been mulling over the idea of sleep awareness and sleep hygiene – changes are way overdue. Below are some ideas I am going to try over the next few weeks. I’ll be taking note of what works, what doesn’t, and what I might need to modify to fit my own brand of insomnia.

Giving up chocolate

Ripping off the bandaid right out of the gate with this one! I am a chocolate fiend, and this one is going to hurt. Having read endless articles and testimonies about the effect of stimulants on sleep patterns, this is all I have to sacrifice in this category. I don’t drink or smoke and gave up caffeinated drinks years ago – so chocolate it is.

7 p.m. and the refrigerator’s closed

This is something I have tried before when trying to lose weight. I never really thought about how it impacted my sleep until I began to experience symptoms of reflux a few years ago. Lately, I have grown increasingly aware that I tend to fall asleep more quickly when I don’t eat after 7 p.m. Following this tip will force me to eat my last meal of the day earlier, but it will be worth it if it results in a sound sleep.

Commit to the bike

You probably know this one well. I think we’ve all owned a piece of exercise equipment at one time or another. You know the one – the one in the corner under a mountain of laundry. Amazingly, I have already gone to the trouble of clearing off said laundry and have set a daily goal of at least an hour on the bike. If I can meet my own goal and fit in this exercise, I am anticipating some restful sleep. Even if it doesn’t work as well as I am hoping, I am incorporating cardio in my day – still a win.

Buy a weighted blanket

Admittedly, I have had this one on my to-do list for about a year. I’m not sure why I keep putting it off. It seems every review out there raves about the calming feeling and the positive impact on sleep. The more I have read, the more convinced I am that some of my insomnia stems from stress and anxiety. A weighted blanket just might be the answer for me.

“Keep it simple, stupid.”

Fans of The Office will recognize this quote from Dunder Mifflin’s finest. I am completely committing myself to keeping things simple at bedtime. During the school year, the only time I have to watch television is close to bedtime. While I love a good thriller, I am one of those folks who dwell on endings. That’s not a good match for someone with insomnia. Nope. In keeping with staying aware of good sleep habits, I am going to keep it simple – the more mindless the better. My time is better invested in relaxing with comedies, short video clips, or predictable reality shows.

What can we do for Sleep Awareness Week?

Staying aware of good sleep habits isn’t difficult. Reminders about the importance of sleep are literally everywhere we turn. We see ads for comfortable mattresses and pillows all the time. Conversations about sleep happen all around us every day.

Sleep is essential, and though some of us are strangers to sleep, we can use Sleep Awareness Week to make some of our own specific adjustments and get reacquainted.

What are you planning to change? Let us know in the comments!

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