Last Friday was World Sleep Day. I didn’t even know that was a thing until it came up during my morning Calm meditation that day (again, I use it, they don’t pay me to mention it). A pretty common “side-effect” of depression is problems sleeping. I’ve never had what people commonly think of as insomnia in that I’ve never had trouble falling asleep. In fact, once when I was a teenager I fell asleep in line for Space Mountain at Disneyland. In my defence it was almost midnight.
My problem is that I wake up, usually at least a couple of times a night, look at the clock, close my eyes , and go back to sleep. I know that some of you out there are shaking your fists at me and maybe even swearing right now for complaining about that, but waking up in the middle of the night, even if I fall right back to sleep, makes for a disrupted sleep, which can leave me feeling pretty sluggish in the morning.
Some people have much more significant sleeping problems and I really have a lot of sympathy for them. Sleep is so important to good health and the ability to focus. The thing is, often, too often, I see that people have done something really counterproductive when they can’t sleep. In the morning I see posts that others have made on social media in the middle of the night about not being able to sleep.
Please, please, stop posting on whatever social media site you’re on complaining that you’re awake in the middle of the night. Picking up your phone / laptop / whatever and scrolling through social media is only making your problem worse.
First, the light from your phone messes with your sleep. The theory is that the type of light that devices such as your phone emit may suppress melatonin, which is the hormone that helps you to fall asleep and have a pretty decent nights sleep.
Second, seeing how awesome other people’s lives SEEM to be (they’re really not that awesome) or some horrendous thing in the news while what you want and need to be doing is sleeping, is only going to jack up your stress and anxiety making it even harder for you to fall asleep. Stop, please stop doing this. Seriously, I don’t want to see one more post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram from any of you saying that it’s 2 AM and you can’t sleep.
Get your phone out of your bedroom, or at least out of your reach. I plug mine in to charge out of my reach from bed, face down. All of the chimes for alerts are turned off. Anyone who could possibly have to reach me in the middle of the night is already in my house. Once I plug it in and set it down, I don’t touch it again until I’m done with planning my day, doing some basic stretching, and going through my gratitudes in the morning.
Could I be even better about this? You bet. There’s honestly no reason why I can’t shut it off at night or plug it in in another room. I’m going to work on doing at least one of these things.
Also, like most people, there’s too much light in our bedroom. There’s a digital clock across the room that’s our alarm clock (because we try not to use our phones in our bedroom). Plus we have a humidifier because winter is Saskatchewan is a seriously dry cold. Anyway, for some reason this humidifier lights up. And this thing doesn’t just light up, the colour of the light changes. I’ve figured out how to get it to stick to one colour, a deep red, but if I let it go it cycles through bright blue, green, and even white. For sleep this sucks.
What could I be doing better? I have a sleep mask that I think may have come with my yoga mat years ago that I should try sleep in. I’ve never tried this before so I think it will take some getting used to, but it seems like a good idea.
Getting enough good quality sleep is the most important thing that you can do for your health, physical and mental. Don’t let gadgets or the latest meme screw with that.