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Jun 23, 2008

How To Improve Your Sleep & Feel More Rested

This post is part of the Better Sleep series. Be sure to sign up for RSS or email updates to catch the entire series of articles.

We’ve talked about a lot of things in the last week’s worth of posts.  Things like why I wake up early and the 5 things that become easier when you do so.  We’ve talked about sleep problems and even asked if you should try to wake up early in the first place.  I’ve also received a few great emails in response to the better sleep challenge, so I’m looking forward to this week’s series.  So let’s start with the important stuff – how to actually get more restful sleep in the first place.

Quality, Not Quantity Is What Matters Most

If you want to get a better night’s sleep, then you need to step back and think about what “a better night’s sleep” really means.  It doesn’t mean that you make sure you get “your full eight hours.”  In fact, a 2002 study involving over a million people indicated that people who slept less than 8 hours of night lived longer than those who got 8 hours or more of shut-eye (But that’s irrelevant, because I’m not advocating that you should sleep less).

What I am talking about is ending the practice of looking at sleep as a numbers game.  It’s not the number of hours you sleep that matters as much as the rest you actually achieve in each of those hours.  It’s like life – it doesn’t matter how much you “have,” if you can’t enjoy it.

If you sleep 10 hours a day but you’re physically and emotionally a wreck, you’re never going to feel rested, because stress and physical tensions are going to be taking their toll on you even after you drift off to sleep.  But if you begin making simple adjustments in your daily routine and invest even just a little bit of time into preparing to rest rather than just hitting the pillow, you might just find yourself waking up feeling refreshed for a change.

Treating Sleep Like The Special Event That It Is

Many people who suffer from insomnia, sleep disorders or just a plain stressed-out lifestyle wish they could get a better night’s rest.  However, for most of them, all they do is wish for it and roll the dice.  They close their eyes and hope that they will magically wake up refreshed.  Sometimes this happens, but more often than not the morning comes and that tired feeling hasn’t gone away.  Sleep?  Check.  Rest?  Houston, we have a problem.

A big part of this comes from treating sleep as a “have to,” such as brushing your teeth, cleaning your ears, or using the bathroom.  Sleep becomes just another function of the body, and given that approach it’s no wonder many people get results like … crap. :-)

But what if you treated sleep differently?  What if you treated it like something special you were doing for yourself, something that would truly give you relief, enjoyment and satisfaction?  While these may seem like odd words to use when talking about sleep, stick with me and you’ll catch my meaning.

Sleep Is Like A Box Of Chocolates

Think back to the last extravagant food you put in your mouth – a gourmet chocolate, a rich dessert, a juicy ribeye … whatever.  Something expensive.  Something you didn’t get every day.  Did you wolf it down like any other piece of food that day?  Or did you savor it, taking slow bites and enjoying the flavors, textures and aromas flooding your senses?  Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

When you savor something, you enjoy it.  You take your time with it. You draw out the enjoyment you get from it, and because of that, you remember it long after it’s gone.  You get as much as you can out of it, and the experience energizes you. And you make the time to enjoy it (you don’t eat ribeye at a drive thru, right?).

You do the same thing when you take the time to pamper yourself.  Maybe you draw a warm bath, close the door and relax to some peaceful music to unwind and refresh yourself.  Maybe you pour yourself a scotch on the rocks, slip on the headphones and sink into your chair as the sounds of jazz fill your ears.  You know what I mean here – when you want to do something for yourself you prepare for it, you make the time and you ease into it.

What If You Approached Sleep This Way?

What if you savored your sleep?  What if, instead of just crawling under the covers you did something to truly unwind, refresh and prepare yourself to be as relaxed as possible?  Do you think you would get a more restful night’s sleep?  You already know the answer.

Tomorrow we’re going to talk about some first steps to making that all happen so that the time you spend with your eyes closed actually recharges your body (rather than just giving you enough energy to “get by”).  Making this psychological shift is the first step.  You must decide you are going to savor your sleep. This is a foreign concept to our rushed culture, so if it feels weird to think this way, don’t be surprised.  But roll this thought around in your head today: I am going to savor my sleep tonight.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow.  Just take at least three moments to yourself today and focus on that thought, and remember how good it felt the last time you took time for yourself.  Relive the satisfaction, relief and enjoyment … and get ready to make those feelings part of your everyday life rather than just on a special occasion.

See you next post,


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9 Responses to “How To Improve Your Sleep & Feel More Rested”

  • Jun 23, 2008 Michael Martine

    You mean I shouldn’t just crawl under the covers when I’m exhausted? :)

    Michael Martine’s last blog post..Create a Business Out of Your Blog and Make Real Money

  • Jun 23, 2008 Marelisa

    Savor your sleep, I really like this approach. Like climbing into a bathtub filled with warm, scented water and just letting all of the tension leave your body, but instead you’re climbing into a warm, comfortable bed. I’m going to try that starting tonight.

    Marelisa’s last blog post..Decide What You Want

  • Jun 23, 2008 Steph

    You know, waking up earlier is actually helping me sleep more soundly during the night. But it might just be because I’m so dang tired. I still haven’t mastered going to bed earlier! :)

    Steph’s last blog post..Why Editors Like Me Exist

  • Jun 23, 2008 Jamie Dunford

    “If you sleep 10 hours a day but you’re physically and emotionally a wreck, you’re never going to feel rested”

    What a great point. There was a time years ago when this applied to me. My response was to start sleeping more (ignoring the problems), and I couldn’t figure out why I was sleeping almost 14 hours a day and feeling more tired than ever. Suffice to say I figured my crap out and went back to waking up rested.

    Now, any cures for how to handling a crying baby at 3 am? :-)

    Jamie Dunford’s last blog post..Moral of the Story: Reveal Yourself Edition

  • Apr 16, 2010 TradeKing

    Great post thanks, all the best. I really enjoy reading this blog, it has a great position on my favourites bar! TradeKing

  • Aug 12, 2010 Julia

    As I try to find more time to work on my own projects and not feeling so tired all the damn time, this post came at a perfect time for me. I feel more rested this morning than usual, thanks to you.

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