I participated in a sleep study and here’s what I learned

A few years ago, I participated in a sleep study due to my excessive sleepiness. Literally, I was falling asleep anywhere at any time. They were looking for narcolepsy, but didn’t find it.

Apparently, I am just a sleepy person. I spent the night at Cedars Sinai hospital in a sleep lab.  The lab itself looked like a cute little hotel. I laid in a comfy bed in which I watched a Lakers game (we lost), read some magazines, sorted through the basket of amenities that were laying on my pillow upon arrival, and when it was time, I just went to sleep with about 40 sensors attached to my head, face, chest, stomach, and legs. It wasn’t the most peaceful sleep ever. . .but at least now I know I don’t have narcolepsy. I also learned a lot about getting a good night’s sleep in the process and got to keep this funny picture as a souvenir.

Sleep patterns ebb and flow. You can have a few weeks of sleeping like a rock and then, BAM–weeks of waking up every hour for no reason. And then you struggle through life with that feeling in the morning of just being too exhausted to go on. The solutions aren’t particularly complicated though. It just takes much more motivation than you’d expect to actually try them. If you’re suffering with sleep deprivation or over-sleeping, anything is worth a try right?! Here are a few simple tricks I learned that might help your REMs.

1. Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time

I have been told, that going to bed by or at 11:30 is ideal. . .and it kinda works!

2. Be smart about napping

A nap might be necessary some days (shouldn’t we all take a siesta like they do in Europe?), but be smart about when. Don’t nap too late in the afternoon, and if you do, be sure to get some exercise in before bed to bring your body back down to normal fatigue levels.

3. Increase sunlight exposure during the day

Your body needs natural light, especially in winter. Get some natural vitamin D, open the blinds in your workspace, and if necessary, purchase a light box for your home or light bulbs that mimic the sun.

4. Tune out!

Shut off that pesky TV when you feel yourself falling asleep! Or better yet, do screen-free activities within a designated amount of time before your self-given bedtime. Read a book, do a crossword puzzle, or just sit back and listen to some soothing music. According to research conducted by Mariana Figueiro of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, you should avoid back-lit iPads and other tablets because (when used at maximum brightness) they can suppress our normal nighttime release of melatonin. And melatonin is a key hormone in the body’s internal clock.

5. The darker, the better

Yes, this may be obvious, but so under-appreciated and underestimated. Turn your phone off, cover the alarm clock, maybe even purchase an eye mask! Be like a vampire and get your pitch black on!

6. Comfort is key

Make your bed your safe haven, the epitome of comfort. Also, make your bed only for sleeping! No sitting on your bed with your laptop, no balancing your checkbook in bed, and no eating in bed!

7. Keep it cool and quiet

Obviously quiet is key. Put that cell phone of yours on silent and shut off the TV, stick in some ear plugs if you’re really sensitive to noise. And btw, who thinks waking up in a pool of sweat is chic? I certainly don’t, the ideal sleeping room temp (for me and for babies apparently) is between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.

8. Food rules

Don’t eat a heavy meal at dinnertime, and don’t eat too close to bedtime. Try not to eat after 8pm (learned that from the Queen, no not Elizabeth II or Bey. . .Oprah). If you need a nosh right before bed, try some toast, a small bowl of healthy cereal, or a banana.

Sweet dreams, Gigglers!

(Images and gifs , via, via)

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