Sleep. Beautiful, wonderful, magnificent and dreamy sleep. I love it. I lost it for a year and a half. When I was sick, I would (day)dream about sleep but thanks to chemo, stress, tamoxifen, hot flashes, and steroids-steroids-steroids, I couldn’t get even 4 hours in a row.

During that time, I realized what a true luxury a good night’s sleep is (in addition to health, of course!). It was one of those, “you don’t realize how good it is until you lose it” kind of things. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than half of all Americans report having sleep problems almost every night. Stunning, right?

The ginormous Silver Lining is that finally, I am getting it back. And I am so f-bomb happy about it!

How am I doing it, you ask? Well, distance from all of those unsavory (but highly effective) treatments certainly helps.  But I am also doing some very focused initiatives to help the process along.

First and foremost, I am turning my computer off (no email, FB, twitter, texts) at least an hour before I go to bed. This is HUGE!  There was a terrific article in the NYT this week on just this topic.

In today’s gadget-obsessed world, sleep experts often say that for a better night’s rest, Americans should click the “off” buttons on their smartphones and tablets before tucking in for the night. Electronic devices stimulate brain activity, they say, disrupting your ability to drift off to sleep. Increasingly, researchers are finding that artificial light from some devices at night may tinker with brain chemicals that promote sleep. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute showed that exposure to light from computer tablets significantly lowered levels of the hormone melatonin, which regulates our internal clocks and plays a role in the sleep cycle.

Secondly, I make sure that I am in bed for at least 8 hours, hoping that I get 7 hours of sleep. Well, ever since I committed to it, I am not only getting 7 hours, but I am asleep in under 10 minutes after laying my head on the pillow and wake up to an alarm. This means that I’m actually getting 7:45 of sleep (Silver Lining). My working theory is that because I have committed more time to sleep, and wind down sufficiently before bedtime, I am able to access a deeper rest.

Thirdly, I still take a nap during the day….almost every single day. Research (the real kind and personally) suggests that napping not only increases alertness and decreases stress, but it also contributes to a better night of sleep.

Fourthly, thanks to the Game On diet that I am doing with my pals (which I am LOVING, by the way), I am drinking 3 liters of water a day and not eating sugar (including white food), all of which are contributing to a good night of sleep.

Fifthly, I have created the following nighttime routine that is working like a dream (pun definitely intended!):

I do this foot bath (really easy peasy, by the way: celtic sea salt, eucalyptus drops and almond oil*) about an hour before bed and then take Kavinace. This herbal supplement was recommended to my by my yoga instructor. OMG. I can’t begin to tell you how life-changing this is!  Seriously, it completely and totally works for me…& I’ve tried EVERYTHING from hard core pharmaceuticals to melatonin to Benadryl to acupuncture.  I’ve been telling everyone I know about this product. Oh and it’s supposed to be great for jet lag too (Silver Lining). Though it’s an over the counter (OTC) drug, always be sure to check with your doctor to see if it’s a-ok for you!

How do you sleep?  Any tricks to add?

* Each of these products can be purchased at your local health food store, Whole Foods or even at http://www.amazon.com

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  1. Anne says

    I went through the same not sleeping for about a year and a half (during and after my treatment). The thing I missed most was DREAMING. I'm back on a good sleep schedule now and have luscious, nonsensical dreams, and it is wonderful. Thank you again for reminding me I'm not alone in this journey.

  2. Isa says

    Dear H,

    I loooved your post today. Thank you as always for being so generous and sharing with us, what works for you. I am also trying to sleep more hours and attempting to infuse more quality to my nightly rest.
    Mil gracias de nuevo.
    Un abrazo.