Rules for a Happy Life: Sleep

My dog is a sleeping champion.

My dog is a sleeping champion.

I still need to work on how much I sleep. I average around 7 hours per night and that number is skewed by the occasional sleeping I do on the weekends to “catch up.” I need to be better with this part of my health because sleep and all around well-being are intimately connected. The body heals in every which way during a sleep cycle whether it is a sore knee to stress or feelings of melancholy.

You will find conflicting information on sleep. Some will say that sleeping 8 hours a night of unbroken sleep is a myth. Others argue that there is no such thing as “sleep debt” or that sleeping in is unhealthy. Still others will argue about sleep cycles and how deep your sleep is. By the end of an investigation about sleep you will probably feel guilty because you are apparently doing it all wrong no matter what your habits are.

So this is what works for me. My exercise is directly proportional to the quality of my sleep. I need to exhaust my body physically in order for me to sleep well. The time I spend on electronic screens affects when I actually fall asleep. I have no TV in my room and do not read in bed. But I will do that final online Internet surf before sleep. It does not help me relax and prevents me from falling asleep. I probably do it from an inherent fear of missing out (FOMO) problem I have always had. What I would actually miss is beyond me.

What it might tell me is that if FOMO is my biggest barrier to sleep, the problem I really have is my relationship to social connectedness. I have been divorced for over 4 years and live alone so perhaps it is the subconscious neurosis of aloneness even if I do not feel particularly lonely. Who knows what it is. The reason is essentially irrelevant at this point.

This goes back to brain messages that I can still fix. I am good about getting out of bed and getting into bed when I am on my regular work schedule. I get in bed no later than 10 and get out no later than 6:50. With that said, I need to leave the technology alone and ignore the urge to grab onto it at night. I have white noise to block the sounds from outside and to silence the nasty tinnitus I have in my left ear from drumming for several years. That is enough.

My mornings began to improve last year. I started to wake up at 6:15, have a cup of coffee, read the news in The Economist, do some sort of exercising (right now it’s pushups), and then get going with the other morning stuff. It has helped a lot. I just need to be a bit better at night. Right now I am nursing a painful kneecap so I am not running all that much and my goal of reading has helped because I am not turning on a TV. I know that when I run, I sleep much better.

What I need is better sleep to get my knee fixed so I can run so I can sleep better.

It’s really a very easy problem to solve. I just have to ignore the impulses in my brain telling me to stay awake since there is no real reason for it. When I turn off the light switch, I just need to turn off my brain as well. That’s just a choice and nothing more.

Part five of a series of Life Rules. See the explanation here.

One thought on “Rules for a Happy Life: Sleep

  1. Pingback: Rules for a Happy Life (And How to Shop for Self-Help) | Mind Squirrels

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