I’m no stranger to lack of sleep. I did spend almost 13 years as a police officer, after all. I lost count of the nights where my phone would ring, I’d get yanked out of bed and spend the remainder of my night up. On the flip side of that very issue, I spent nearly 13 years as a police officer… This means that after everything I’ve seen, done and been subjected to, my brain is a hot mess of recurring nightmares\ and an inability to calm myself, which translates to a significant lack of sleep.
Because I enjoy adding icing on the cake, once you throw Type-1 Diabetes into the mix, it gets even worse. Fluctuating blood sugars, circulatory issues, restless leg syndrome… you name it! There are plenty of things that have kept me from sleep over the decades and although I firmly believe that I’ll sleep when I’m dead, I’d kind of like to enjoy the prospect of proper rest while still in the land of the living. But I digress…
There are a number of different reasons why one may not get adequate sleep. One of the biggest culprits, is stress. Stress has a way of creating that tight knot in your gut and keep the gears of your mind running like an exhausted bastard. The result is usually that a person is unable to successfully fall asleep when something pertinent and important is on their mind. There are different ways to address this, including meditation, relaxation and calming exercises and even some dietary aspects that can help calm your mind t promote better sleep.
On the topic of diet, what you eat makes a significant difference in the quality and even quantity of sleep. Contrary to popular opinion, alcohol doesn’t actually help you sleep better. You may fall asleep FASTER, but the quality and depth of sleep won’t be there. There’s no harm in having a couple of drinks but drinking to excess where you flop on the bed and pass out won’t provide reasonable sleep. In fact, you’ll likely wake up more exhausted than when you went to bed. What you eat will also prove problematic. If you eat something too spicy or too heavy, it will weigh heavily on your system while you’re trying to sleep.
WHEN you eat is almost as important as WHAT you eat… And I’m likely the worst fuckin’ person for this type of thing. I have this nasty habit of snacking late at night, usually during that last hour that my wife and I are watching a couple of episodes of a show before bed. The problem with this is that sleep is when our body takes the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate. If several hours are contributed to digesting the food in your gut that you ate before bed, your body won’t be getting the rest it requires and depending on what you’ve eaten, it may also keep you up.
And since I mentioned binge-watching shows, modern times have made staring at a screen the common thing that binds us all together. Unfortunately. The issue there is that our bodies are designed to recognize that once things begin to go dark, the body prepares for sleep. Staring at a screen fools your body into thinking that it’s still daytime out and it will be more difficult to fall asleep. Most articles I’ve read have suggested avoiding screens for an hour before bed to allow your body to be receptive to sleep.
All of this is great information in theory but not all of it can necessarily apply. Given that some folks perform shift work or work at unusual hours or have underlying medical conditions that may affect sleep, avoiding food and bright screens for an hour before bed may not cut it. It’s important to bear in mind that most forms of insomnia or lack of sleep can linger but shouldn’t last for longer than a week, at most. If you notice that despite all the steps you take and improvements you make, that you can’t get proper sleep, it may be time to consult your family doctor or medical practitionner.
Sleep is integral to good health, balanced blood sugars and proper diabetes control. Taking Diabetes out of the equation, lack of sleep will cause eventual cognitive issues, difficulty concentrating and lead to further medical issues. It’s important to get some proper sleep and if you find yourself unable to achieve that, it should be addressed sooner rather than later. Even something simple, like switching mattresses or ensuring your have a fixed bedtime routine can help to promote proper sleep and by virtue of that, proper rest. ☯️