The Huffington Post and Glamour Magazine are spot on to "out" our country's dysfunctional relationship with sleep. The list of negative physiological effects sleep deprivation can sponsor seems endless, but here are a few of my favorites: aching muscles (good for massage therapists), dizziness (only if swooning will get you prince/princess charming), nausea (could be misinterpreted as an eating disorder) dry mouth (bad for effective communications), hallucinations (could be fun but that was in the 60s), hand tremors (makes email and texting difficult), headaches (a pain in the head), increased blood pressure (danger sign), increased risk of diabetes (flashing red light), increased risk of fibromyalgia (major bummer), irritability (sucks for everyone around you) memory lapses or loss (could be misdiagnosed as an early on-set of Alzheimer's), rapid involuntary rhythmic eye movement (could be viewed as flirting), obesity (very bad for health and self esteem), slowed word recall (bartenders might refuse you service) temper tantrums in children (and the child inside adults -- just work in the movie business for proof of concept), excessive yawning (very bad in corporate meetings), attention deficit issues (Ritalin here you come!) and psychosis (not a great goal for 2010).
American women (and men), let's sleep!
Here is my my top 10 "don't" list if you want your beauty sleep!
1. Don't start a conversation about money before preparing for bed. Worrying about money, fighting about money, or analyzing your financials at night will keep you tossing and turning until the wee hours. Unless you're a global trader, it can wait!
2. Don't turn your computer off minutes before going to sleep. Emailing is the equivalent of drinking a cup of coffee right before bed. It's a stimulant. Face it! Stop social networking, dealing with correspondence, or surfing the web at least one hour before the sleep fairy comes, or she/he may blow you off!
3. Don't eat a big, juicy steak (and certainly not one shot full of hormones!) later than 8 p.m. Or any other large meal for that matter. Digesting meat (and food in general) takes time and it will infringe on your ability to say bye-bye to the world when you want to. It will also increase your chances of gaining weight.
4. Don't have phone sex before you plan to turn off your light (regular sex is fine). Titillation on the phone is just that -- titillating! Titillation doesn't bode well for sleep!
5. Don't start watching a movie (or rerun of a television series) that you love, because it rivets you. My weakness is Dexter, particularly this season where John Lithgow's serial killer rocked my world. The odds are you'll finish the show rather than nod off, which will make you less than attractive the next morning.
6. Don't let your snoring dog sleep in your bed! Or your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/child either. Deal with snoring! There are things that can be done. Do them.
7. Don't have an espresso after dinner, even if the fun of being at a restaurant makes you feel festive. You'll pay the price. Switching positions at night (while you try and get relaxed enough to sleep) decreases the life of a mattress. They cost a fortune today, even if you get one on sale!
8. Don't pick a fight with anyone before you go to bed. Going to bed angry is a disaster. Your upset mood will embed itself in your consciousness while you sleep and you will awaken (if you sleep at all) in an even more fowl mood.
9. Don't work in your bed. That means no phone calls, computers or PDA devices. Your bedroom is not your second office, even if you're sleeping with your assistant.
10. Don't make a list of everything you have to do the next day. This will only engage your mind to activate, not slow down. Just give work/responsibilities/the outer world a rest, okay?!
Now that we have the "don'ts" out of the way, here is my TOP TEN "DO THIS" list that helps me get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. I hope it helps you too!
1. Read, as long as it's not work related.
2. Journal about your thoughts, feelings and perceptions of life.
3. Listen to a meditation tape you enjoy.
4. Take a hot bath, stretch or wrap yourself in a warm blanket.
5. Do the crossword puzzle.
6. Hug your children, partner, dog and most important, yourself!
7. Organize the elements that create a calm departure in the morning (clothes, coffee/tea, work related items, cell phone).
8. Create bedtime intentions. These are prayers for what you want to experience more of in your life. Example: My bedtime intention is to have more clarity about the sequel to Shovel It! Kick-Ass Advice To Turn Romantic Relationship CRAP Into The Peace And Happiness You Deserve.
9. Draw, doodle, sew, knit- do something that connects you to your creativity.
10. Make a gratitude list. Gratitude will allow you to sleep faster than anything else I know.
If life has crapped all over you:
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• Write to me at my personal advice column, "ASK DEBBIE" for the Washington Times's Communities section. Your question and my answer might appear there or on my Kick-Ass blog for the Huff Post
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