Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sleep Tight

Sleep tight, easy said than done for many people.

Young children, like Nicholas, are addicted to computer games. When it is time to sleep, they will say "I am not sleepy" - if they are playing games at the time, they might not feel sleepy at all due to the excitement of the games. It is relatively easy to make young kids to sleep tight: strictly enforce sleep time. When it is time to sleep, take away games, turn off nights. Occasionally even when all these are done, Nicholas may still not feel sleepy. This most likely means that he doesn't have enough physical activities during the day. For Nicholas, we make him to walk to school sometimes, or run inside the house or play table tennis after dinner, just ensure he has some physical activities.

Teenagers have more distractions, in addition to games, they also have online chatting, YouTube,  Facebook. It is hard to enforce sleep time when they are in high school. But many of them are sleep deprived due to late night online activities - which leads to missed class, sleep in class, and not mentally alert. One time, when Justin was home, he behaved like a zombie. I asked him to go to bed early, he told me he could not fall sleep. I took away all of his electronic gadgets including cellphone. He was upset, lied on the floor in his room. In five minutes he was sound asleep!!!! I can not take away his gadgets every night, eventually he will be on his own, he has to ensure he has enough sleep by himself. I have been trying to educate him, the importance of a good night sleep, the damage sleep deprivation can do to him in long term.....for every chance I have had to talk about it,but I am not very effective so far.

Sleeping well and having enough sleep is a priority for me. I made a new year's resolution for 2011 for ~ 8 hour sleep every night. Despite the priority and my determination, I still have insufficient sleep from time to time.

From time to time, I have to stay up late for work or family related matters. This is a big problem for me because no matter how late I go to bed, I will wake up early next morning. My solution is to make it up by taking naps in the afternoon next day, or take napes during weekend afternoons.

A bigger problem is that if I have things on my mind, I may not be able to fall back into sound sleep again if I wake up midnight or very early in the morning. This could be a serious problem. The key is to clear my mind. For example if I had technical challenge at work which bothered me, when I woke up very early in the morning (e.g. 4am), and my mind could not stopping thinking about it, and thus I could not fall asleep again. After struggles with this type of issue, I found out that if I wrote down what I was thinking, my mind could rest afterwards! This approach applies to non technical issues as well.

What can make us sleep tight?

Ample physical activities and mental activities during day time.

Go to bed right away when you feel sleepy. Dragging on a few more minutes can let the optimum sleeping time lapse and make it hard to fall asleep.

Don't eat right before you go to bed (This is good for weight control as well)

Stop external excitements (games, deliberation on difficult issues ...) 15 to 30 minutes before going to bed

Clear your mind if you can. Writing down what bothers you, what you can not stop thinking about can help to calm down you brain and clear you mind.

As for maintaining optimum weight,  I refrain from using medication for sleep related issue. This would be a different matter if one has medical problems.

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