You know that I am hell-bent on getting lawyers and academics in the best shape they can be. We have the knowledge and skill set necessary to remove the bonds of oppression so people can live their lives fully.
That’s why, no matter what my clients want from me, I always ask them about their self-care and tweak that for them.
So in November, on my newsletter (wait . . . you aren’t on my newsletter? What are you waiting for?!?! Sign up here!), for my self-care post, I talked about my challenges with sleep.
I’ve gone to bed earlier.
I’ve eliminated alcohol and sugar from my diet.
I stopped looking at screens an hour before bedtime.
Our bedroom is an icebox (I’m perimenopausal . . . or maybe just menopausal. The room MUST be cold).
It’s been since this summer since I could pull together over 7 hours of sleep. And I’m not greedy . . . I’ll take 7 hours and 5 minutes.
How do I know this? I have an Apple Watch and I use an app that tracks sleep.
My newsletter said that I was officially going to seek help for putting my sleep on fleek. I could not DIY the sleep situation any more.
So, based on my November GET MORE SLEEP journey, let me tell you what you want to think about to make sure that YOU are on solid sleep ground.
1. Track your sleep.
There was a New York Times article that said it’s not worth tracking your sleep. I think they’re wrong. I KNOW that I wake up feeling tired and that something is not going well. My spouse hears that I stop breathing in the middle of the night.
Something is wrong and my watch is what signaled the problem.
2. Do the things that generally improve sleep.
Sleep hygiene is important.
🛑 Don’t drink caffeine after 2 p.m.
🛑 Don’t drink alcohol in the evening if you must at all (did you know that alcohol starts as a depressant, but upsets sleep and, for some, wakes you up in the middle of the night? 🙋🏾♀️).
🛑 Take those baths.
3. If you notice that they’re not working . . . here’s one more thing.
A few years ago, I visited my doctor who ran a series of blood tests on me. She noticed that my adrenals were really worn out.
Adrenals Michelle? What is THAT?!?!
The adrenals are the glands that sit on top of your kidneys. One for each kidney.
Their purpose is to regulate your hormones, but they also regulate your circadian cycles. They regulate when you feel tired and when you feel alert.
They are the glands that secrete adrenaline . . . the hormone that gets you moving when you’re in trouble. Like when a lion comes to attack you, adrenaline kicks in to help you flee.
Except that most of us don’t live in environments that have lions.
We are so stressed out that our bodies believe that we’re always in flight or fight. And that’s doing our bodies no good.
We are always producing cortisol (also from the adrenals) to take the edge of the stress and THAT taps the adrenals out.
Now that I’m finished with the biology lesson (I give few of them . . . I’m an historian, remember), the problem is that your adrenals crashing causes you:
💣 To gain excess weight in your mid-section.
💣 You feel WIRED all the time.
💣 It undermines your sleep. For me, that meant waking up, WIDE AWAKE, at 3 a.m. and being unable to go back to sleep.
Which makes for one cranky woman. I can focus and do the things, but ultimately, as I saw a week ago, I feel tired and emotionally fragile.
Like I want to cry all the time, fragile.
Let me say that there are MANY things in my life that are really stressful. And I’m game for feeling my feelings. I have people in place whose job it is to listen to my feelings and I listen to theirs. But it’s not like me to want to cry all of the time.
I realized that my adrenals were tapped out.
You can go to the doctor to fix this, but there is actually a diet that helps. The Adrenal Reset Diet. It’s also a book.
At its core, no more sugar, no more alcohol, whole grains, veggies, and high quality proteins. The stuff we should be eating anyway.
But it’s not just that you eat these foods, it’s HOW you eat them.
It talks about carbohydrate cycling. Eat a protein, fat (nuts, olives, avocado), and one serving of carbs for breakfast. Two servings of carbs (and I should say high quality carbs. Whole grains (not gluten), beans, green leafy veggies, etc.) at lunch with the protein and fat, and three at dinner with the protein and fat.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE THIS HAS MADE OVER THE LAST FIVE DAYS!!! I have gotten 7 hours of sleep three nights this week! The first was on the first day of doing this diet! GET THE BOOK.
I’m THISCLOSE to getting my sleep game COMPLETELY on fleek.
4. Get a sleep study
If you try all the things, and you’re still not quite there (my spouse hears me stop breathing during the night 😮). It’s time to get a sleep study. Given this report, I think I also have sleep apnea.
I got a referral for a sleep study. They’re checking to make sure my insurance policy will cover it.
So once all of these challenges, the adrenals plus the sleep apnea, are fixed, CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW DANGEROUS I WILL BE?
I believe in walking my talk with lawyers and academics. I can’t show up for you exhausted and mentally dead if I want you to THRIVE in what you do, particularly because the world is literally on fire and we need YOUR SKILLS to turn this shit show around. So transparency about what works, doesn’t work, and how to fix it is sooooo important.
Have any questions about improving your sleep game? You can send me an email from the website. And don’t forget, sign up for my newsletter because there you can regularly see reflections on self-care, writing, professional sanity, and social change.