How Well Do You Sleep?
Musings on sleep and sleeping well
Everybody falls asleep, right? Like eating and drinking, walking and talking, it is probably one of the things we take most for granted until we discover that people have different experiences with sleep. For some, it comes when they want it to, others need to summon the elders to host a prayer session before they can sleep.
Sleep is one of the best medicines that God has given us, as a good shuteye is usually guaranteed to get you energised once you wake up. For people who don’t have severe sleeping challenges, one can usually not deny sleep when it calls. If you cheat sleep, it would take its revenge when you least expect it to.
I have heard several stories about crazy situations people have fallen asleep in. I remember in secondary school, a guy was sitting on a ledge and gisting with his friends. A few minutes later, he had dozed off and fallen off the edge. The funny thing was that he didn’t even wake up! He was so deep in sleep’s embrace that he hadn’t even felt any pain from the fall. I remember another guy in university who would usually fall asleep while eating, it was so funny back then! He would wake up a few moments later and continue eating!
I am certain most people have their fair share of crazy stories about how sleep has humbled them. I have also fallen asleep at the oddest time and places. Dozing off at meetings or interviews in the full glare of others was standard at one time. This requires a special level of skill because you have to appear as though you are awake even though you are asleep. If you wear glasses, it is easy to pull off and if your lenses are tinted, it is much easier to pull off. You just have to ensure that you are sitting properly and you appear to be maintaining rapt attention. Remember though, you can only take quick snoozes or you would soon be found out.
Falling asleep while driving is probably something that has happened to many people. I remember driving home with some friends after attending “The Experience” concert all night many years ago. I drove down to the end of the Third Mainland Bridge, and it was at that moment that I nodded off. Everyone else in the car had also dozed off but thankfully, the road was clear and my instincts kicked in quickly. I jolted myself awake before I hit the median strip or another car. Please, whatever you do, don’t drive while tired. I had to park for a bit and slap myself silly hoping that the pain would keep me awake till I got home.
My most memorable experience dozing off was when I had to sit in an interview with my managing director at the time: he was having a chat with a senior-level executive we wanted to hire. It was late evening and I had spent most of that day scheduling candidates, getting colleagues to interview the candidates whilst also sitting in on the interview panels. I must have run up and down the building a million times so I was dog-tired. This chat with the MD was the final session I had for the day.
I ushered the candidate into the MD’s office and sat by the corner as they conversed. I am not sure how long that went on but the next thing I knew, someone was shaking me awake: the chat was over and the candidate had left the office! I was probably out for about 10 minutes, thankfully I hadn’t snored or maybe I would have received a kick in the shin! The MD was quite considerate and knew that I must have had a long day so he brushed it off but told me to be more mindful next time. These anecdotes show that sleep is not a respecter of persons. If you need sleep, no matter how hard you resist, you would eventually have to give in.
For some people, sleep comes easily. All they may need is some internal peace and they could sleep through a storm. Bedlam could be raging around them but they would never know. For some others, sleep could be elusive, so much so that they have resorted to taking medication to enable them to sleep. Neither of these people is me. For me, sleep has always come whenever I needed it as long as my internal and external environment is calm.
I consider myself a night owl as I go to bed much later than most people. Even at that, I had always believed I had no issues with falling asleep. I could take the occasional nap during the day or nod off now and again but when bedtime comes, I would be gone in a heartbeat. It wasn’t until I got a fitness band some years ago and started tracking my sleep patterns that I realised how poorly I was sleeping. Even though I could be in bed for six or seven hours, less than half of that time was spent in deep sleep. I had a challenge staying asleep. I realised this would usually happen whenever I was under a lot of stress. My day would usually determine the quality of my sleep that night.
I don’t have a magic potion that would help activate more restful sleep, but I do have some tips a friend shared with me a while ago about improving one’s quality of sleep:
- Forget about work when you want to go to bed. don’t take anything other than yourself to bed
- Create a peaceful ambience in your bedroom by choosing light wall colours and adding wall art. You could also try scented candles and room spray
- Get the right type of bed frame, mattress, and pillow that suit your age and body
- Unclutter so that you don’t constantly have to leap through clothes, shoes, or even books before you can get into bed
- Ensure your beddings (pillowcases, bedsheets, and duvets) are clean and changed frequently
- Regulate your room temperature to enhance comfortability. Also, check room ventilation and ensure proper air circulation
- Follow a sleep schedule so your sleep patterns are more predictable, and you get enough rest
- Track your sleep with a fitness band; you may never know how well (or badly) you sleep until you see proof
There are, however, people who suffer from various types of sleep disorders and may either be aware or not. Seeing a doctor is crucial if you struggle with sleep, so you can receive proper attention.
Sleep has rejuvenating powers: whenever you feel stressed, you should consider taking a nap. When you wake up, you would feel like a brand-new person. Make sure you sleep and sleep well; this is the way I see things today.