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Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Elusive Sleep

I know that sleep is very important. The amount of sleep one gets is directly correlated to happiness, less stress, and lack of weight gain (says multiple studies that I've read). And I have tried many things to make sure I get the most and best sleep that I possibly can. Right now, I'm pretty darn close to perfection. Let me list off the things that work and have not worked for me.

Have not worked:

1. Melatonin
This one is a bit different; I have a feeling Melatonin would work for some people, especially if they spend a part or all of their day sleeping during daylight hours, or have a varying sleep schedule. It did not help me one iota, though.

2. Eye Mask
Again, probably more for the folks who sleep during the daylight. I did this once using nothing buy a tea towel and a headband, and oddly enough it put pressure on my eyes and I enjoyed the feeling of it. I slept well, which I didn't expect. A regular eye mask will purposely NOT put pressure on your eyes. YRMV. I didn't like opening my eyes and not being able to see, though.

3. OTC Sleeping Pills (or any sleep medication)
This is not a long term solution. I have taken them when I knew ahead of time that I wasn't going to get enough sleep that night. They often just make me feel super woozy though, and extra tired when I wake up.
[I should probably mention that I am technically a morning person, now that I know what a "non morning person" looks like - read previous boyfriend David. I can wake up pretty easily, be completely coherent and start my day right off the bat. I do enjoy sleeping in, however.]
Mainly, my issue is waking in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back to sleep, in which sleeping pills won't help. Normally my brain starts racing, and it's not usually about stress, but ideas. And I can't get it to shut up!

4. A new bed
Yeah, you heard me. About 8 months ago, I bit a very large bullet and dug into the emerging foam mattress start up industry. After a lot of research (this was before the more recent popups of Leesa, Purple, etc) I chose a Helix mattress because of its customization. Through their website, you give them your age, height, weight, and the type of firmness you generally like and they make a bed to fit your profile. I told them that I was always too hot at night (another reason I wake up often), so I got a "cooling" mattress. My weight was around 190 and I had large hips, so they made the foam sink more in the middle to help align my spine. In theory, it was pretty epic. In reality? Meh. I might have also chosen a mattress that was too firm. See, that's the problem... I don't get to try them out before I buy them. They do give you 100 days to trial it, but then what? What if you hate it? The mattress is 80lbs and came vacuum-sealed in a cardboard tube. How are you supposed to return it? I actually have it sitting on top of my old mattress (A Beautyrest "bowling ball" mattress - remember those commercials?! Yeah that don't work for shit. Anyway, I digress) I have a platform bed so I don't need a box-spring, but turns out with this mattress I needed something, and I had already tossed the box-spring, so I'm using the other mattress. Sigh.

Things that work or probably work:

1. 2 inch memory foam topper
I've had it for a long time. It probably contributes to my heat problem but it makes the bed more comfortable so it's worth it. I shouldn't even need it with the Helix mattress, dammit!

2. A mattress pad
This is a new edition. It doesn't have hardly any padding, but I think it helps dissipate the heat from the foam topper

3. Blackout curtains
Don't even not buy these. For real. The best.

4. Ear Plugs
This one is a little iffy. Do they help? Yes. Do they also cause issues? Yes. I usually have to get an ear lavage every 6 months or so because there's nowhere for the wax to drain when you're constantly wearing plugs. They can also tickle the hairs inside your ears and make you wake up itching like mad. I will often pull them out in the middle of the night after the traffic outside has calmed down to the point where I can still sleep. And no, they don't block sound 100%. I can still hear my alarm just fine, but I won't hear my gerbil running on his wheel in the other room.

5. Memory foam pillows
I've gone through a couple of these already. I usually buy them from Costco. The one I'm using now has a gel side for cooling. It works for a couple hours but then it gets warm like the other side would. It's not perfect but they last a long time and are much better than regular pillows.

6. Plants
Several different articles state that some plants release oxygen at night and can help a person sleep. I am not a green thumb by any means, but some varieties are incredibly easy to take care of and actually require little water or sunlight. I chose to buy an aloe vera plant and a snake plant. I'm not sure if they help but they certainly don't hurt anything!

7. Not taking Phentermine

8. Expensive sheets
Okay, this one pretty subjective. But I saw an ad on facebook for Brooklinen, claiming the best sleep in the world or some shit. But it was also like $70 for a fitted sheet. Now that the idea was in my head though, I decided to poke around and do a bit of research. I used to be so picky with the colors of my bed. I wanted any combination of blood red, gold, and black (Asian Fusion) and it didn't matter the brand or the type or how crappy the sheets were. Anything costing over $40 was going to limit my color range. (The fitted sheet I had for a long time was black, 200 tc Joe Boxer cotton. Drove me nuts.) The more expensive the sheets, the shittier the colors. Although this is still true nowadays, I've given up on that Asian Fusion look. Turns out, JCPenney's has some highly rated sheets, and they came in decent-enough colors. There was also a 50% off coupon for bedding that I greedily used. Although that Damask Red was perfect (do you know how hard it is to find blood red as a sheet color? It's not as easy as it sounds) I didn't like the feel of it, and again, I was tired of the look. I chose their Royal Velvet 400 tc Sateen Ash Gray. I am in love with these sheets. I enjoy the kind of slipperiness they have, after sleeping on crap cotton that wrapped and wrinkled around my body and held in all the heat. I did not overheat last night. It was one of those miracle nights. And I hope to have more miracle nights!

9. Sleeping alone
Highly questionable but you can't deny the science, married people! I have been married, and I've had boyfriends. Sleeping in the same bed with someone is only cool for so long. Of course I miss the snuggles and the other things that come with being in the same bed *cough*, but it's just not worth the rest of the night in misery. Not only do I wake up with every movement my partner makes, but sharing blankets is enough to start a civil war. I get so hot. Justin and I got to the point where we had our own blanket on the same bed. But he snored. And he tossed and turned, and I never got a good night's sleep.
I vote we bring back the 50's. Am I crazy? Well, not according to several articles I've read. There's opinions on both sides of the fence. I would vote for sleeping in the same room, and maybe even having the beds touching or almost touching, but you stay separate enough to have your own sheets, your own space, and most importantly, your own type of bed that you like to sleep on and won't bother your partner if you move around. It doesn't mean that you can't start out in the same bed and do all the things you like to do, but once it's time for sleep, you separate.  

I'm also thinking about investing in this: iBand

What do you all think? What has helped you sleep better at night? Let me know in the comments!