If you think I am a Luddite or that I live in some pimped out underground bunker, you are mistaken. 😏 I am nothing of the sorts and actually advocate for technology and innovation. Heck, I am a woman in tech! So let me explain.
NO ONE gets between me and my sleep!
At least not anymore.
Back in the early 2000s, I suffered from a severe bought of insomnia. So severe that I would pass out around 3am and then wake up many hours later to the tune of around noon or 1pm. It was impossible to hold down a job, but I surely knew my late night talk show hosts quite well. I tuned into Conan, Letterman, Leno and Kilborn. I got to enjoy the early morning infomercials and always wondered if they would showcase an ad for “Sleep BETTER with this magic pillow, or new crock pot!”. It never happened, and I actually wondered if I would ever sleep well again.
It was debilitating.
What I came to learn was that this was only the beginning of something way more serious. In 2006, my health turned on a dime (or so I thought — so many little signs I missed, dangit).
I almost blacked out one evening in late November, just after Thanksgiving. I had never felt anything like it. The fear the crept up my spine and the vertigo-like feeling of not knowing which was was up or down. It was a terrifying moment.
The next day, after I woke up, I felt that something was off. My eyes felt itchy and my skin tingled in my lower legs. I swore water was pooling into them.
“Nah, that’s impossible”, I thought.
I resorted to wearing my glasses all week and by the weekend I noticed that my entire body, head to toe, had actually swollen up with some type of fluid. I won’t go into too many details, but this was the beginning of a ten year deep dive into constant diagnostics, numerous doctors both western medicine and naturopathic, blood tests, biopsies, acupuncture, reiki, energy work, kinesiology, and the list goes on.
My ally sidekick of a doctor, Leslie Nicholas, made me laugh often. 😂
I think her sense of humor and outside the box approach was the reason why I was able to make it through those extremely fright-filled years. She liked that I was open minded. She once told me, “If I told you to stand on your head, drink a tonic and sing at the same time, you would do it”. And she was right.
I no longer just cared about sleeping well, I was in a fight for my life.
What revealed itself to me and my tried and true ally was something we hadn’t thought about. We finally tested for Lyme disease back in 2012, and the test came back positive. But we didn’t stop there, as I still had other symptoms that weren’t associated with Lyme. (I was pretty certain I was bitten by a tick around age 11, and could trace odd symptoms of my legs giving out on me during my time at summer camp)
Mini Rant Moment:
How on earth were we taught to look for ticks and bites and NEVER told about the symptoms?!!!
Lyme Disease can incubate if not treated and also compromises our immune systems which allow for an entire host of new pathogens to enter our bodies and wreak havoc.
It wasn’t long after my quasi-diagnosis that I began to do more research into Lyme and other autoimmune diseases. I educated myself to empower my own decision making. I tuned into my intuition and that led me down a discovery of other tools and tips to decrease inflammation and optimize the immune system. This led me to start my first crack at meditation as well as other mind altering techniques. (not psychedelics, because at that point I still believed they were dangerous) NOT ANYMORE! 😎
During my journey into self-awareness, self-love, and a return to health, I noticed that my sleep began to improve.
Instinctively I started to make my “end of day” routine of nodding into dreamland a major priority. Shortly after I began doing this I learned that while we sleep our brains actually go through a flushing process. It’s like a clean sweep of a hard drive.
Yes, we actually defrag while we dream, except it’s our body’s natural way of eliminating toxins instead of data.
Not too shabby, eh?! 🤓
Without this restorative process, we put ourselves at risk for numerous health problems.
So What Can You Do?
So, with this newfound information, and also knowing that I still had quite a bit of healing to go, I took active measures to ensure that I got my quality defrag time. Here’s the steps that I took . . .
I set a regular bed time
I typically go to bed between 9pm and 10pm when I do not have an event or function that interferes. If an invitation to an event is not a “HELL YES”, then I say “no” and keep to my routine.
I turn my phone ringer off at 6pm
But what if someone calls me?! They can leave me a message and I use my discernment as to whether I will call them back. I almost always wait until the next day to make the call. However, if it’s a good friend then I will shoot them a text. I’m conscientious, but I also respect my boundaries.
I set my phone’s brightness to “auto adjust” to the sunset
On an iPhone, the settings can be changed to dim and soften according to your preference. This reduces the blue light our devices give off that keep our minds in that annoying “WAY TOO AWAKE” mode. I set mine between 7pm and 8am the next day.
I installed f.lux on my computer
I love me some Netflix and occasional shows on Hulu from the privacy of my own lap. I also work late on occasion. F.lux is similar to your phone’s brightness settings except it more accurate. It makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.
Again, turn that blue light OFF!
I use essential oils
I won’t get into the science too much here, but let’s just say that a combination of aromatherapy and terpenes create a beautiful catalyst for our bodies to listen, take note, and enjoy the benefits. I prefer lavender and chamomile because they are soothing and relaxing.
Magnesium has magical powers to relax our muscles and provide them with essential nutrients to restore and recover. I won’t go a night without it, and swear that it was one of the most beneficial additions to my supplement routine that I have ever made.
I limit or refrain from alcohol
I absolutely love a nice glass of red wine or a few glasses of sake, but I also noticed that it can interfere with my sleep. So I prefer to keep it to a single glass if I am out and about or just nix it all together. My health matters too much for me to jeopardize my zzz’s.
I hide in my bunker
Okay wise guy, I know I said I didn’t have one, just keep reading.
My equivalent to a bunker is also known as turning the phone OFF (or at a minimum, Airplane mode). Our phones are receivers and senders of signals if they are on. This means app updates, incoming texts, WhatsApp, and wifi, etc.
If you don’t turn these signals off they WILL impact your sleep cycle.
If I accidentally forget to activate airplane mode or turn my phone off, I notice that I wake up restless, as if I was running a mental marathon in my sleep.
So I ask. . . 🤔
Are you wishing that you had more energy during the day? Would you love a good solid night’s sleep? What if you could heal from your illnesses or expedite the recovery process? And isn’t your peace of mind more important than anything in the world?!!!
I fought for my life and now, over a decade later, I get 8+hours of sleep a night. My digestive system is finally healthy, I no longer swell up like an Oompa Loompa, and I feel alive and alert during the day.
Go ahead and try these tactics for yourself. Make your sleep routine so sacred that the world could be burning down and you wouldn’t even know it. Trust me, you won’t care, because you will feel that dang good.
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Originally published at medium.com