Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Rest My Case

This is not my bed:

Part of me wishes it was, although according to the site (dominomag.typepad.com) it's a few thousand dollars. Which got me thinking - how much is sleep really worth?

If you have IBS, it's worth just about anything. Lately, in an effort to make myself healthier (Here I feel the need to update - I lost 7 pounds in a week using sparkpeople.com!), I have been attempting to sleep more. Normally, I am a habitual insomniac. And even on nights when I certainly could sleep, I find myself unable to just go to bed. It feels like I have more to accomplish - how could I possibly go to bed?

And then I started forcing myself to go to bed early and get 8-10 hours of sleep, and I found out something so common sense I had to restrain myself from shouting out, "Well, duh!" My insight? Getting more sleep makes my IBS better. I had noticed that my IBS got better once I moved 30 miles closer to school and cut my driving time down to less than half. But I thought it was just the idea of not having to drive on the freeway (that's a whole other blog - coming after this one).

I now know that a great deal of that is that I can sleep later in the mornings. When you don't sleep, you're much more prone to stress. That stress then makes it more difficult for you to sleep. Patterns, anyone?

I know it can be difficult to modify your day to include that much sleep, especially if you have a particularly demanding boss, or children, or a million other things to deal with. But a few extra hours can make the difference between a symptom-free day and a toilet-hopping experience. Try these small modifications to get started:

1) Turn off the TV an hour earlier than normal. This may mean you miss the news, but you can look up the weather or read the paper in the morning. Is it really worth it to hear someone else read it to you?

2) Hands off that snooze button! Going to sleep for a few more minutes can actually make you groggier. Instead, set it for the time you will actually get up. This way, you won't wake up until you have to, giving you 9-18 more minutes (or more, if you're a habitual snoozer) of sleep in the morning.

3) Buy yourself a bottle of lavender-scented lotion, and rub it on before bed. The smell will help soothe you and get you to sleep faster.

4) Get rid of those 8 million racing thoughts! The women I know (myself included) are especially prone to this aggravating trend. Try this simple visualization tactic: picture each thing you're worried about as a sheet of paper with the worry written on it. Mentally crumple it up, and throw it in a bin. The ones that are really important, you can "take out of the bin" the next day, and the ones that aren't can be thrown out for good.

5) If you have half an hour in the middle of your day and are by a bed, couch, or comfy chair, lay down and close your eyes. Just the act of relaxing and shutting out light and noise for a little while will leave you feeling at least a little more refreshed. Careful though - too much more than that and you'll get groggy.

Bottom line - Those three little letters - IBS, can be helped by three others: Zzz

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