Still Trying to Fix The Sleep!

sleep mask

A sleep mask can be a low-cost, high-effect way to improve sleep!

A while back I talked about addressing my sleep issues.  Sleep is a huge concern for me because of the number of times each night that my Fitbit is telling me I am restless.  Restless sleep means that I am NOT getting the REM sleep or deep sleep that is so necessary for mental and physical recovery each night and that’s obviously a huge problem. I’ve had problems with sleeplessness many times during my life, but now with the Fitbit data I have something to look at and tackle this problem.

Well, the problems I’ve had haven’t gotten any better. I’m still having sleep problems, and I am still concerned.

First off, I am looking for a new doctor. My previous doctor (a traditional MD), though he never pushed drugs on me, also never suggested lifestyle changes other than “you need to get more exercise” (back when I had this scare a number of years ago). His response for pain was take more ibuprofen, instead of looking at why it hurt or what might be causing it. So I’m actively looking for functional medicine doctor. I’ve found a couple who might fit the bill here in town and I’ll let you know how that appointment goes.

As far as self-care goes, though, I have been making some changes. I’m still using my diffuser with essential oils (currently using a respiratory blend, some lime, and some white fir oil to keep the air passages clearer in the night), and I’m also putting some lavender oil on my feet at bed time. Lavender has helped a lot of people to get better sleep and has been used for that purpose for thousands of years. I don’t care for the smell of lavender, personally, but putting it on your feet means that it’s under the covers but you still get those benefits.  Putting the oils on your feet mean you’re putting them right on top of some of the most sensitive nerve endings in your body and getting huge impact.  We’ll see how it works – it can’t hurt, right?

Also, I’ve started seriously avoiding screens at night. I had been doing the amber glasses thing, and they’d sort of helped, but I have yet to find a pair that lets me wear my reading glasses under them and I have issues with reading at all when I don’t wear them right now. I got a new pair of the glasses, ones that are more like work glasses, but even they aren’t allowing the readers underneath.

So instead, I’ve been reading an actual paper book by candlelight in my room.  There are a couple of problems here – one is that the only candles we have in the house are scented candles and frankly, I don’t know what’s in them.  Second, they’re REALLY dim candles. Makes it a bit hard to read, and I am really into my latest book (Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, and Brought the Arabian Nights to the West.  My history geek is showing) and don’t want anything to get in my way of enjoying it.

Himalayan Pink Salt Lamp

Himalayan Pink Salt Lamp. Hopefully I can keep the kids from licking it.

But I feel more relaxed when I read at night instead of watching TV, so I’m considering an alternative – a Himalayan pink salt lamp.  You may have seen these – they’re basically chunks of pink salt that have a light bulb inside and give off a very pinkish-orange light which should be perfect for emulating firelight or sunset light while I read.  Some places also talk about how these lamps give off negative ions and emulate the air we find in nature much better. They interact with the positive ions given off by electric appliances, wi-fi, etc. and cancel those out, giving us air that is cleaner and more like we evolved breathing.

So cleaner air, better nighttime light, and hopefully enough light to read by – triple win. (Some people report that a salt lamp isn’t bright enough, some say it is. We shall see…)

Another thing I am working on is the effect of electromagnetic waves on my sleep. That’s right: lights, wi-fi, and more. There’s just a ton of evidence that shows that these things really do mess with our sleep, to the point where they’re disrupting us. I know I’m sensitive to it.  My wife likes to read in bed and even though she uses a book light instead of a lamp, that’s enough to wake me up on occasion.

So two things are happening:  I’m working really hard to make sure I remember to put my iPhone on Airplane mode – to keep any and all energy waves that it uses out of the room.  And I want to find a sleeping  mask. Yeah, just one of those goofy masks that has no eyes on it. Even though it’s nighttime, there are too many lights in the room that I can’t do much about – book lights, the light on our oils diffuser, lights from outside when we have the windows open, and more. Though I’ve heard eradicating all light and EMF waves is best, that’s not going to happen so I need to make the best of it.  A sleep mask seems to be a low-cost solution.

The last thing I’m looking at is a tool that goes beyond what the Fitbit is showing me, and that’s an OURA ring. This was introduced to me by Ben Greenfield’s blog and sounds like a better tool for tracking sleep than the Fitbit is, as it goes into more depth about the quality of the sleep, and actually makes recommendations on sleep and activity following the previous night’s sleep. It’s also a lot less invasive than the Fitbit, which tends to flash when you move it in certain ways (normally the display isn’t on 24/7 but comes on if you move your hand to read it) – again, the light at night thing. The only sticking point is the price right now, it’s a little bit on the steep side ($299). Definitely one to save for.

So that’s it. Lots of stuff that I’m working on with regard to sleep. I’ve seen more people talking about it recently than ever before as the news about its importance keeps coming to light (pun unintended).  And I am not going to let lack of sleep keep me down.

Has anyone here ever tried out one of these Himalayan Salt Lamps?  Is it enough to read by? How about a sleep mask?  Or do you know of glasses that you can put over your reading glasses? I’d be interested in your feedback! Let’s talk about sleep issues and these lamps at our message board