Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Managing Life --- Get a Good Night's Sleep

Get a Good Night’s Sleep


To sleep well, you should fall asleep naturally, without the use of

drugs. You should wake up rarely during the night and awaken

naturally in the morning, refreshed and alert, but never groggy

or anxious. A good sleep sustains you throughout the day with

plenty of energy, and, unless your lunch contains a lot of sugar

or alcohol, you should not find yourself dozing in midday.


We each have different needs, and not everyone requires eight hours

of sleep. For example, I need seven, whereas my wife requires a

full eight. Try turning in earlier or setting your alarm later,

if schedules permit: You may need more sleep than you think you do.


…stress is the great enemy of our health, relationships, efficiency,

and happiness. Stress and poor sleep work hand in hand to deteriorate

our health: When we are stressed, we do not sleep well; when we do not

sleep well, it makes us more prone to stress.


The secret to getting a good night’s sleep is taking practical steps

to eliminate conditions that rob you of your sleep. In order of

importance, they are:


Effects of stress: control or eliminate the influence of stress on

your sleep.


Worry: While stress can set you up for a fitful sleep, worry can keep

your eyes open all night. …leave worries outside the bedroom on a

piece of paper. Approach sleep with a slogan: “Thank God for sleep!

My personal license to suspend my worries until morning!”


Discomfort: Look carefully at the temperature and humidity of

your room, conditions of dust, and any allergenic substances.

Look at your spread, blankets, sheets, what they are made of,

and how they feel against your skin.


Food: Eating too close to bedtime forces the system to be “active” in

the process of digestion. A system that is digesting is not resting.

Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, sugar, and spicy foods.


Alcohol and other drugs: “Sleeping it off” doesn’t mean quality sleep,

as alcohol can stimulate nightmares. When you awaken hung over,

you have not had a quality sleep. Even though you were “out

like a light,” you were out on the inside, too.


Babies, children: Every parent is familiar with this one, and

there is little that one can do, especially in the case of an infant,

whose needs take precedence over your good night’s sleep. The

best way to prepare yourself to get both jobs done is to give yourself

a pre-sleep suggestion… telling yourself that the child you love

is part of your night life for those few years of infancy. Awaken

to the child’s call gratefully, take in a deep breath, and say to

your baby: “I choose to stay relaxed while I take care of you,

and then slip back into deep sleep, so I can be refreshed to take care

of you tomorrow.” Older children should be taught not to make

unnecessary noise at night.


Partners: Partners have different habits, demands, and needs and

can sometimes be disruptive to our sleep. Different retiring or rising

times, for example, can disturb one or the other partner. There can

also be snoring, nocturnal trips to the bathroom, teeth grinding

(the result of the partner’s stress), talking or walking in their sleep,

or a sudden, urgent request for sex… Some interruptions are more

desirable than others, but they can all disturb our sleep.


Noise: The dreaming mind takes normal external stimuli and

presents them in the language of dreams: a speeding motorcycle

passing your window can turn into a bright, angry bird. If you live

on a noisy street, try to seal or insulate your windows. You can also

purchase a sleep machine, which can provide white noise, rolling

surf, or rain sounds. A tabletop water fountain can also be used

to drown out unwanted noise.


Pets: I have a small, striped cat named Douglas Fur. He occasionally

wakes my wife and me between three and four o’clock in the morning.

He does this with his paws, gently putting them on a cheek, nose, or

forehead. If we turn over, he touches the nape of the neck. The

solution to this sort of interruption is to keep the door closed.


Nightmares: We have all been awakened by nightmares. They can

simply be the result of the waking mind’s misinterpretation of the

normal before it is fully awake, or a result of the suppression of

fear and doubts, which we are either unaware of or unwilling to

deal with during our waking lives. (Recurring nightmares or

unusual sleep disturbances warrant professional help.) Naturally,

you will never get to sleep if you try to think of all these things

as you are snapping off the light. Just being aware of them from

day to day can help you regard your bedroom as you personal haven

of peace and regeneration, nurturing, and safety. Once there,

realize that this utmost important third of your life is vital for

your health and happiness.


We have all had the experience of lying awake for hours, tossing

and turning, and trying everything from commanding ourselves

to sleep to begging God to allow it to happen. Not even exhaustion

and fatigue are enough to drive us to sleep, if our worries are chronic

and the habit of stress has been learned by the body. Of course,

sleep can neither be persuaded nor coerced. This is because sleep

is a result: It is the condition that remains once the thoughtful mind

finally “gives it up,” gives up its preoccupations, analysis, wishes,

demands, and even reveries. To go to sleep, all you need to do is

stop being aware of yourself. Don’t allow yourself to observe yourself



By: Jon Robertson

Excerpted from The Sacred Bedroom, by Jon Robertson, copyright 2001.

Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, Ca.,, 1-800-972-6657.


Jon Robertson is an editor, journalist, and speaker.

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