Sweet, Sweet Sleep!

Wow it feels like a hundred years since I’ve written anything here! It’s been a wild month of sinus infections, graduate school acceptances (I’ll be moving to College Station, TX to pursue a Ph. D. in genetics in the fall! Woot woot!), midterms, new loves and lots lots more! But I’m happy to finally be back to writing.

With all the excitement, however, I haven’t yet gotten a chance to stop and celebrate that it is National Sleep Awareness Month! How wonderful is that?

Often we take our sleep for granted, or we simply don’t prioritize it enough for the wonders it works for our bodies. Sleeping has actually been found to be a key component in things like mood swings, dietary habits and weight loss! It does all that on top of helping rebuild our muscles after long days of working and thinking hard, yet we often say things like “I’ll just get a few hours tonight and I’ll be fine”, or “I need to be up all night just to get this done”, or the all-time-college-favorite “Whatever, I’ll sleep when I’m dead!”.

I’m guilty of pretty much all of these, but in honor of this glorious month I’ve decided to try and seriously prioritize my sleep. Hopefully, this emphasis on taking care of myself and nurturing my bodies natural repair system will help me better get through the tough stuff and celebrate the fun stuff! And in case any of you want to embark on this epic sleep journey with me, here are some things I’ll be focused on this National Sleep Awareness Month!

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A Dreamy Nights Sleep

I’m a firm believer that dreams mean something, and I find that the better I sleep, the more I dream, and the more I dream, the more soundly I sleep. It’s a nice little positive-feedback-loop that keeps my subconscious light and my body well-rested!

I tend to have very vivid dreams, and while I know this isn’t the case for everyone, it’s still very important to acknowledge dreams when you have them. While there is no direct scientific link to sleep quality and dreams, it has been noted that since dreams reflect reality, often good dreams are a product of a good day. Good days tend to follow good rest, thus creating a similar positive feedback loop that I talked about earlier.

I’m focused on this because of those vivid dreams I have. I think writing them down is a great way to keep your mind both sharp and at-ease, by allowing you to express what goes on in your brain while you sleep without having to carry around the thoughts of where your mind was wandering to at night for a whole day!

I’m focusing on this by keeping a dream journal. If you’re interested in dream journaling and learning more about what dreams mean, Papyrus makes lots of really cute, bedside-table-sized journals and dreammoods.com is great for reading all about different dream symbols and what they might mean for you!

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A Satisfactory Nights Sleep

Sleep satisfaction is exactly what it sounds like: how you felt about your night of sleep. While sleep quantity is about how many hours you slept and sleep quality is about the condition of the sleep you got, this aspect of sleep is more about how it made you feel.

I want to focus on the way I feel about my sleep because this can make a big impact on your mood throughout the day. Feeling well-rested is just as good as being well-rested in many cases. Even if you only got a few hours of sleep, if you wake up feeling revitalized and ready to take on the day, you’re in a better position than someone who slept double the hours but wakes up still feeling tired!

I also want to focus on this because, especially on the weekends, I’m guilty of sleeping for many hours yet still waking up and feeling exhausted. I’m trying to listen to my body and rather than simply trying to stay in bed for as long as I possibly can, try to understand when my body feels ready for the day and I can get up (whether that’s at 7am or 11am), or when my body really does need that extra 5 minutes (or hour….or two!).

If you’ve ever experienced unsatisfactory sleep, some great ways to try to combat this are sleep-satisfactory supplements, such as Kavinace┬ásleep support products, or trying out a sleep-cycle app like Sleep Cycle to wake you up at hours that are likely best of your body!

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A Quality Nights Sleep

Finally, I’m trying to focus on getting quality sleep. While ensuring a quantity of sleep per night is not always realistic when things like work and school are so variable, quality is something a little more in my control that I’m hoping willing turn help with my other two focuses (previously discussed!).

Quality sleep encompasses a lot of factors, such as time spent in bed versus time sleeping, and the number of times you wake up during the night. I’m trying to increase my quality of sleep by only sleeping in my bed (rather than doing homework on my bed or scrolling through Instagram thinking about going to bed on my bed, and things like that!).

Other things that can improve sleep quality are things like adrenal sleep supplements (like those available through Gaia Herbs), or avoiding setting multiple alarms in the morning so that you only wake up once.

If you’ve already got good sleep in the bag, I’m proud of you. It’s no small feat to be aware of your sleep schedule, and to be able to acknowledge when you’re getting good sleep. Hopefully by the end of this month I (and everyone on a sleep-venture with me!) will be caught up to all of you good-sleepers.

Until then, sweet dreams!

p.s.- there just wasn’t enough room here to talk about all the cool things the National Sleep Foundation has on their website, so definitely go check it out to read more about the wonders of sleep!