Last Friday, I woke up with a jolt to the horrible beeping alarm clock and thought, “I don’t ever want to hear that noise again.” I hate waking up to stress. Sleep is important to me, and I made an immediate decision to get better sleep. That includes waking up without stress.
One of my favorite subjects in college was sleep. No, I don’t mean I slept though college. Okay some days I did. What I mean is, I enjoyed learning about how sleep works and how we can optimize the amount of rest we receive from our sleep.
The most enlightening realization of my sleep studies was that sleep has cycles, those cycles are predictable, and how rested you feel depends not just on how long you slept, but also during which cycle you awoke.
The peaks in your cycles are when you are closest to being awake. They occur approximately every 1.5 hours, and according to my neuro-psych professor these peaks are the ideal time to wake up. This means that sleeping 7.5 hours may feel more restful than 8, if it means that at 8 you wake up in the middle of REM. I try to sleep either 7.5 or 9 hours (okay I wish I slept 9 hours), and I definitely feel a difference when I miss the mark by 30 minutes.
But back to waking gently. I went to the old BB&B and picked up this little darling. The slowly increasing sound of rolling thunder gently pulls me out of sleep, so it feels as if it is even natural to be waking when it’s still dark outside. I sit in bed for a few moments, reflecting on my dreams and planning for my day. It is bliss.
Now if I could just squeeze in a mid-afternoon nap time in my cubicle…