Every October for the past 4 Octobers I have focused on rest and restoration. The first time was out of necessity. I was on year 5 of sleep deprivation and on my youngest, second, and last kid. The were both frequent night wakers (every two hours for years), and I was nothing short of exhausted. I had a newer symptom emerge from the sleep deprivation that completely perplexed me, insomnia. How can I be so tired from years of getting up with kids, and some how my body decides to sleep less? I’d find myself awake for hours in the middle of the night pining after sleep. With the onset of fall and the cooler weather that set upon us here in the midwest, it seemed natural to work on hibernating.
You’re probably like, what does rest and restoration October have to do with DoodleMash or the board gaming industry. When we started DoodleMash, I made a commitment to myself to not burn out. If that meant going at a snails pace into order to keep myself, my family, and this game going, so be it. A couple of years ago I had my Epstein-Barr (you know the “kissing disease”) and it has really set my health back. I had mono in high school and didn’t know that it could reactivate, but from what I understand if the body is under enough stress it can. I was just on the upswing of getting myself back to what I consider healthy when we launched DoodleMash, and that health was something that I wanted to maintain. We have what I will deem our most important month coming up, November. We will be launching our Kickstarter Campign where you can go and buy our game or support us in a few other ways and we will have a booth at Chitag, one of the largest Toy and Game Fairs in the country. I want to go into these events with my best foot foward, and recharging my batteries before is exactly what I need.
Through out my 4 rest and restore Octobers I have gleaned so much information and products that have worked for me or others, it seemed almost a shame not to share with anyone who is looking for rest for themselves, their family, or friends. I made a quick brain storm list and came up with an easy 20 (!!!) things I’ve learned and/or do to promote sleep and rest. Looks like this will be turning into a part one in a two to three part series. Hope you enjoy!
Let’s start with sleep hygiene because it encompasses so much. We have developed hygiene practices for all other aspects of our life, why wouldn’t there be one for sleep too? Sleep hygiene is the practices and habits we develop to promote restful and restorative sleep.
1. Let’s start in the bedroom. It should be cool, comfortable, dark, and quiet (quiet can mean white noise like a fan or a sleep app, we use Sleep Genius).
2. The power of Orange! I know the powder of orange is starting to take the internet by storm with the use of things like hymalyan salt lamps (it casts a soothing orange fire like glow) orange glasses like these (help block out blue light that dampens the bodies ability to produce melatonin*) and I even use orange tinted night lights in the kids bedrooms, and each room in our house has a lamp with an orange light bulb that I use an hour or two before bed instead of the regular lights.
3. Check the screens at the door. Sorry guys, not only does screen time dampen melatonin production its also stimulating for the brain*, a brain that has been stimulated all day long! Trust me, this one is hard for me too. I use F.Lux for my computer, and on my iPhone I use the night shift option. We will be doing a no screen time after 6pm for the month of October.
4. To eat or not to eat (or drink!) before bed. This will totally depend on you, your digestion and your body. Some people do well with a light protein or fat snack before bed that isn’t spicy, sugary, or fried. While alcohol and marijuana might help you to fall asleep fast, they both interfere with the bodies natural sleep cycles and you will end up with less restful sleep in the long run. There are plenty of other drinks and herbs that will promote restful sleep, and I am a huge proponent of them. Everyones heard of chamomile, but did you know that catnip is also a great herb for promoting healthy sleep? Here are the sleepy teas and tinctures (not all are kid friendly the ones that are will say in the product description) I have used in the past:
*Peace, Harmony & Tranquility tea (This one is actually made just a few hours North us!)
Woah what a list! If you’re new to the sleepy tea club and I’ve just overloaded your brain with choices, I’ll make it easy. Start with Traditional Medicinal Night Night without Valerian (target often carries it) and go from there.
5. Get out early to help you later. Even just 10 minutes of early morning sunshine can have a positive effect on your bedtime circadian rhythm. For an added bonus of mobility, flexible, and a little wake up call, do 10 sun salutes (Don’t know what Sun Salutes are? Do a quick youtube search and pick a version that is something you think your body can handle).
6. Exercise. This could be as simple as those 10 sun salutes if that’s all you have time for. It could be going for a walk, or so much more. Maybe you already have a routine and thats awesome too. I can’t do excessive exercise without seriously burning myself out so mine is as simple as walking most days (20-40 minutes a day) and a really basic mobility and strength circuit.
7. Get warm and then sleep cool! This one here makes a big difference for me and for my kids. We sleep best in cooler conditions. The room temperature that supports the best restorative sleep is between 62 degrees Fahrenheit and 65*. For an added bonus, you can take a warm bath/shower or foot soak and hour or so before bed for a little melatonin boost*. For warm nights the kids and I sleep with cool washrags on our necks and our feet.
8. Meditate. Get that brain to be quiet down! There are a couple of awesome apps out there (I use the Calm App) where you can just do a couple minutes a day. I am not an expert on meditation. It’s something that I struggle with. I pretty much never make it past 5 minutes, but sometimes its just the act of trying. Maybe you need to make up your own form of mediation until you’re ready to do the real thing. Put on some light wordless music and sit outside for 5 minutes, drive in your car with silence for 5 minutes, work on a puzzle, or create your own way. There is also youtube channel for kids called Cosmic Kids Yoga that not only has yoga for kids it has guided meditation. An awesome resource.
9. Bedtime. Find your bedtime and stick to it. I live with someone who likes to think his ideal bedtime is 2:00am, but when you gotta get up at 7:00am even the leading experts agree that’s not enough sleep. So he’s usually in bed around 12:00am, which is still 2 hours after me. While our hours of sleep vary between the two us, we both know what our individual needs are. From what I’ve studied and read, the average person needs 7-8 hours, there is a small group of people that are good with 6-7, and some need 8-9*. If you are on either end of those extremes (the 5 hours and under or the 10+ hours) something might be out of whack.
10. Build your routine. You can jump into your rest and restore October any way you like! My first year I only knew about a couple of things, and didn’t want to overwhelm myself with too much so I only focused on a few key factors, and now on a good day I can do up to +20 different things to promote rest and restoration without even thinking about half of them. That’s the beauty of habits.
I’ll share some more complex sleep and rest ideas next time for anyone that is already walking this path with me and wants to really dig into it. Maybe I’ve just totally slammed you with an action that seems like climbing a huge looming mountain. Is it really rest and restore if you’re freaking out about how you’re going to rest!?! Of course not. Know your limits, and maybe you just need to do a week instead of a month. I picked a month because in the world of sleep, it takes roughly 30 days to see a change in sleep pattern and behavior. If you want to see and feel results, the experts say it takes a month for that to happen, but I would challenge even focusing on rest for a week would reap benefits. In a world that never seems to slow down and things are running 24 hours a day, I find rest and restoration to be a passion of mine. Follow and use #restober to see what we’re up to and share what you’ve been doing for the month of October!