Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Little Sleep...Please!

Night shifts suck...and not just for the Officers working them. Spouses get the short stick too when it comes to night shift and sleep. I struggle to make it to bed on time when my husband works nights, and when I finally make it to bed, a lay awake thinking. By the time he comes home I have either just fallen asleep or have been laying in the dark for hours. When he hops into bed we end up talking and I'm lucky if I get 4 or 5 hours of quality rest. Sound familiar? Sleep for spouses of LEOs can be difficult, below are some tips and links to help you get a better nights rest! Your body will appreciate it...and so will everyone else! :)

  1. Control the light and noise. Make sure to close your blinds or curtains at night. If you have street lights outside your window, add a blanket to help darken the light. Also, help keep your brain in the "sleep zone" by controlling the noise in your room. We use a fan to help drown out weird noises, or loud ones like the train. A fan can also help relax you...it goes back to sounds in the womb when we were babies.  
  2. Make a relaxing routine for bedtime.
    Get in the habit of a routine. Settle into bed a half hour early to read. Invest in comfy pj's or soak in a warm bath before bed. Drinking decaf tea can help as well, or warm milk like our Grandmas said. There are varieties of teas that help relax your body, check out a tea and spice shop for help on which ingredients will help instead of hinder. 
  3. Avoid bad habits. One of the worst habits to get into before bed is hanging out on the computer or in front of a TV. It is especially bad to your sleep cycle if you do these activities IN bed. The lights and visual stimulation activate your brain and make it hard to come down from the stimulation. It can prolong the time you need to fall asleep as well as mess with your sleep rhythm. Remember, light means wake time, and any light can trigger your brain to wake, even electronics. 
  4. De-Light your room. This means not only darkening your windows, but also covering up alarm clock lights, power lights on electronics, as well as ambient light from outside or in other rooms in the house. One of the best things I have done for my sleep is cover my alarm clock. Not only does it no longer shine in my face, but I am able to stay asleep instead of waking to check the time.
  5. Stick to a regular bedtime. Consistency is key. Set the same bedtime every night. Strive for a time that can be achieved throughout the week. 10:00 pm is our bedtime. It usually allows for our little lady to get to sleep (and stay asleep) and a few hours of down time before rest. Choose a time when you routinely feel tired and stick to the plan. You can actually train your body to prepare for sleep by rewarding it with consistency. And a BIG hint here...as tempting as it is, don't stay up late on the weekends. It defeats the purpose of setting a bedtime and irregular sleep patterns can train our brains to stay alert at all hours of the night. You can actually make yourself an insomniac.
  6. Wake up at the same time every day.
    You should wake up on your own if you are getting enough sleep. But if you are needing to wake up before your natural wake time, set an alarm clock for a consistent time every day. No cheating...even on weekends. And another BIG hint...if you sleep with an alarm clock, turn it away from you and block the light with a book or sock. If the numbers are facing you while you sleep, you will actually find yourself waking through the night to check the time. Not to mention the light can be bright and will also keep your brain stimulated.
  7. Fight the urge to nap during the day. Napping can make insomnia worse. Again, you can train your brain's sleep cycles to be off by repeating certain things...like napping. Napping can disrupt your normal sleep cycle by altering your brain's wake and sleep patterns. By napping during the day, a person can train their brain to feel sleepy in the afternoon and alert at night, rather than the other way around. If you have to nap, keep it to 30 minutes and only nap in the afternoon. This way your body associates the need for sleep with night instead of daytime. 
  8. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol before bed.
    All of these substances are stimulants and a stimulant sabotages all your other sleep aid efforts. Technically alcohol is a depressant, but it still messes with your brain, especially if you are the type of person who gets energetic from alcohol. If you're trying to get quality sleep...skip the booze before bed, even if you think it relaxes you.
  9. Use little light at night. Do you usually use the bathroom in the middle of the night? Try to do so with as minimal light as possible (and is safe!). Flicking lights on and off hurts our eyes adjustment to light and will trigger your crazy brain to activate. Keeping lights low when you use the restroom, or make a bottle, helps your brain stay in the "sleep zone". 
  10. Finally, use light to your benefit. 
    When you are up during the day, try to enjoy as much sunlight as possible. Spend more time outside during daylight hours and take off your sunglasses for a short time to let light onto your face. Open the blinds in your home or workspace. When my baby had a day/night confusion the first couple weeks she was home, we placed her in front of a window during the day, and darkened the house at night. She figured out day was wake time, and night was sleep time in only a week. We trained her circadian rhythm and you can do the same for yourself.  
Check out these other links for sleep tips and info!

    1 comment:

    1. I always switch to sleeping on his pillows because his scent makes my mind thing that he is there. Also I am bad and let our GSD sleep on the bed to provide extra heat to keep me warm.