I was recently reading a review of Arianna Huffington’s new book, “The Sleep Revolution”. There is nothing like having the importance of sleep really hit home when you’re reading about it… sleep deprived. I count myself lucky, with a 5 year old, a 7 month old, and an old dog, we typically “sleep through the night” at our house (and by sleeping through the night, I mean only getting up once or twice.) That being said, I know that we go to bed way too late (rarely before midnight) and don’t ever sleep in (considering that our sweet, little alarm clock goes off every morning at 5:45).
From what I could gather, Huffington is making the same sleep recommendations that we have been telling our patients for years in Chinese medicine. For parents of young children, some of the recommendations are just not feasible. For instance, sleeping alone… studies have shown that people who sleep alone get better sleep. Whether your partner is a snorer, wakes up in the night, or gets up before you do, all of these things make for a disrupted nights sleep.
This one makes me laugh as I envision my family of 4 all ending up in our bed by the morning with the dog on the floor snoring. Another recommendation is adding rituals before bed such as; meditation, candles, a hot bath, or cup of tea. Each of these things sounds so romantic and dreamy… but I would probably end up falling asleep in the bathtub as the candles burn through the night, only to be woken up by a crying baby at 3am. Not the safest mom move.
So I asked myself, what are some things I could do to make the hours that I do sleep more restful? Number one, going to bed earlier. I always convince myself that once the kids are finally in bed, I need a few hours to myself to watch a show, clean the house, go through mail, and the list goes on… when simply going to bed will make me a more patient mom, better practitioner, and overall more rested person. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it’s believed that 10:30 P.M. is the best time to go to bed for a full cycle of sleep, by 11:00 pm, the gall bladder energy is at it’s strongest which is when the body starts regenerating itself.
The other thing I have control over are “devices” in our bedroom. We do not have a TV in our room, but I would be lying if I said the iPad, computer, or phone never sneak their way into our bed. Huffington says, “Take all devices and gently escort them out of the bedroom, the trick isn’t just to get rid of technology for the night, but to turn sleep into the “sacrosanct ritual” it was in the time of our ancestors.” Training myself not to reach for the phone during a late night feeding session and just letting my mind “be” could totally change my quality of sleep, I could even look at this time as a form of meditation.
If you don’t feel rested when you wake up, or don’t think you are getting enough sleep, I urge you to ask yourself how your life would be different if you were able to sleep more. If this seems like a daunting or impossible task, or you might want some help, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be very helpful dealing with sleep issues, so let us know if we can help!
Sleep well and often,