When I was a little girl, I couldn't sleep without a night light. Somewhere along the way that changed. I try to avoid any light when I am sleeping. I don't want to see light peeking under the door, or from the digital clock, or coming through window coverings. I'd prefer conditions to be perfect when I go to sleep.
Perfect conditions? Yes, ideally, the bed must be soft, the pillow has to be moldable, the room has to be cool and it must be pitch black dark. These are my preferences.
Falling asleep is my super power. Staying asleep is another matter. I am grateful any morning I sleep past three. Insomnia and I go waaay back.
When I was a young mother whose day job was teaching elementary school, I used to wake up in the middle of the night, and count on the fingers of one hand how many hours I'd slept, and try to determine if I could function on the little sleep I'd had. I fretted and worried about my insomnia.
Over time, I just accepted the fact that I'm not much of a sleeper. I made friends with the early morning hours. Yes, I know the benefits of a good night's sleep, and I have tried everything I know to try to achieve that, but nothing has made a difference. Room-darkening window coverings, melatonin, kava tea, giving up caffeine, lavender oil, white noise, silence, meditation, and even prescription sleep aids; I have exhausted my options, to no avail.
"Although most people need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to function well the next day, the National Sleep Foundation...found that the average woman aged 30-60 sleeps only six hours and forty-one minutes during the workweek." (National Sleep Foundation)
Six hours and forty minutes? That would seem luxurious. My average has been about six hours, but many nights were less than that. Those extra minutes would have been such a boon to my energy levels.
The results of too little sleep reported by the NSP that seem to affect me are these: daytime sleepiness [one or two naps a day helps], increased accidents [have you seen my bruises?], problems concentrating [I have assumed attention deficit issues], and possibly, increased sickness and weight gain [Dang...].
Darkness is so important to my sleep that yes, I have a sleeping mask for daytime naps. I have a serious sensitivity to light. Chuck has always teased me that if I just closed my eyes, light wouldn't bother me so much, but you see, I am very aware of the glow from the streetlights and neighbors' houses that comes through our blinds.
A couple weeks ago, we were lying in bed, and Chuck had me close my eyes. He held his hand in the air, and told me to tell him when I noticed his hand passing in front of my face. Yes, in the semi-darkened room, I could tell when conditions changed from kinda dark, without his hand in front of my eyes, to darker, with his hand in front of me. See? I'm a little light sensitive. Shutting my eyes does not shut out all the light.
So imagine my astonishment when we put a Himalayan salt lamp in our bedroom, and I was actually able to fall asleep with that light across the room from me on my dresser. I fell asleep, and I slept for seven hours. WHAT? I know. I was super-shocked, too. I figured it was just a fluke; my exhaustion had finally caught up with me.
But you know what? Since purchasing the lamp on January 9, 2017, I have only had two nights of sleep that were less than desirable. For the last couple weeks, I've gotten anywhere from seven to eight hours of restful slumber. I don't have any empirical evidence; I wasn't doing a sleep study. I just wanted to give the lamp a try because I'd tried every other crazy thing out there.
My anecdotal evidence of a change in sleep patterns is not hard evidence of the magical properties of Himalayan salt rocks. I cannot attribute my improvements to the new lamp because there all always other variables. For example, the last couple months, I have been doing yoga 3-7 times a week, and I would like to think that the time I spend on the mat is benefitting me, too.
So will I be experimenting with not doing yoga, or sleeping without my lamp? Not on your life. Starting my day with yoga has so many other benefits not related to sleeping, and as long as I'm sleeping doing what I'm doing, I'll keep doing what I'm doing.
Being able to sleep with ANY light on seems miraculous to me, so just like Motel Six, we'll leave the light on. It seems to be working for me.