Sleep is Essential – Getting Quality Sleep Part II

All around the world, people are feeling stressed, anxious and becoming frazzled from the ongoing uncertainty, chaos and unpredictability that COVID-19 has had upon our lives, lifestyles and routines. How has this pandemic affected your ability to sleep well? What can we do to improve the quality and duration of our sleep? Well, it might be helpful to find out informally what your current sleep habits and bedtime routines are. Are you using time-tested methods shown to promote quality sleep? Trust me here; it’s really pretty easy to figure out if you are sleeping well. No measurements, tools or calculators needed for this quick survey. Grab a writing instrument and some paper or cut and paste the questions into a computerized document program…this is a really low stress activity. Honestly answer these questions with a “YES” or “NO” response!

  •  Look around the room you normally sleep in at night; does it have items that make the room “feel like a cave”, that is, is the room dark, well-ventilated and cool?
  • Are you dressed in sleepwear at least thirty minutes before bedtime to help signal “time to sleep” to your brain?
  • Does your window shades or coverings block out visible light?
  • Sleep accessories like light-blocking eyewear and sound sleep machines are used nightly?
  • Are your digital devices turned off and not readily reachable?

These are really simple questions yielding potentially high-value information unique to you. Sleep research has shown that establishing a consistently regular sleep schedule allows your “body clock” to have a more regulated wakefulness-sleep cycle. Quality sleep allows our bodies to restore, renew, repair & refresh processes like wound healing, bone repair and growth, metabolism, cognitive functions, etc. Quality sleep also helps us to wake up the next morning without mental cloudiness or lack of alertness.

Sleep-promoting Activities to Ponder:

  • Consider performing some type of exercise or activity that morning like walking, biking, yoga, swimming, lawn mowing, raking garden gravel, house cleaning, etc.
  • According to the Sleep Foundation, here’s how regular exercise helps sleep, “particularly in the morning or afternoon, [exercise] can impact your sleep quality by raising your body temperature a few degrees. Later in the day, when your internal thermostat drops back to its normal range, this can trigger feelings of drowsiness and help you drop off to sleep. Also, if you exercise outdoors, you’ll be exposed to natural light, an important element in helping your body establish a good sleep-wake cycle.” https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-exercise-impacts-sleep-quality
  • TRAIN your brain to recognize that it’s time to sleep. Develop a regular sleeping pattern by going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day including weekends and holidays. (https://www.thensf.org/sleep-tips/)
  • Create a sleep routine – change into sleepwear at least thirty minutes before bedtime to signal a change from wakefulness to a time to sleep. Consider using eyewear to block out room & hallway lights.
  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine, perhaps read an enjoyable book, do non-strenuous stretching or easy yoga, listen to calming music or take a relaxing bath.  
  • Establish your bedroom as your getaway area specifically for sleep or intimacy. Prepare your sleep quarters–close your window shades or curtains and make the room temperature cooler if it’s not medically prohibited. Turn down your bed sheets.
  • According to the National Sleep Foundation, “the optimal temperature range for good sleep is 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit.” (https://www.thensf.org/sleep-tips/)

Stay tuned, more helpful strategies coming next week, in the interim, rest well!           

Prayer:   Dear God, we ask for peaceful rest and sound sleep to refresh and heal our feeble bodies made weary from battling this pandemic. We’re enduring disrupted lives, altered routines and fractured unity – our hope and joy rests in you. Bless your people so we may bless others. Lord Jesus, comfort us and heal our lands through your mighty hands of grace and mercy. Amen.               

ESV Scripture:  Proverbs 3:24 – –“If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”