Updated: May 6, 2020
I sure do. I was living in Hong Kong. Early 20's. Running around that lively and amazing city that makes many never want to leave. SARS. Ah yes. So many memories. The "I Love HK" campaign put out by a super fun PR company to booster the morale of a tiny island knocked off-kilter with a mystery disease.
I met my husband during SARS, and I knew he was a keeper when, on date #2, I told him I needed to leave the restaurant early because I didn't feel well. Being a gentleman, he escorted me back to my apartment in a taxi. We were driving up a steep road (MacDonnell Road?) with the driver braking and driving with a cadence that did not agree with my stomach. I rolled down the window and, as gracefully as possible, threw up out the window of the taxi. Yes. I promise it is entirely possible to throw-up and still look composed. It took effort, people. REAL effort. So I knew that this guy was a keeper because he still wanted another date. That is an excellent screening process for future husbands, girls. Keep that one in your toolbox.
I was a bit worried that I had caught SARS. I went to a doctor to get a check-up, but mostly to resolve my newly founded anxiety and hypochondria. He told me, with his lovely British or Australian accent, that I most certainly did not have SARS, but he could tell me how to prevent it and reduce my risk of getting sick. He told me that the hours before midnight were the best for sleep quality. He said that they were so supportive that theoretically, I could count them as double (don't hold to that- I've done too much research for you to start skimping on sleep. 7-9 hours! He was just trying to make a point to a naïve and spacey 20-year-old girl).
And voila- Just. Like. That. I became an early sleeper. I grew up in a house with great sleep habits (thanks Mom and Dad!), so this was a comfortable routine for me to slip into. And since then, I have been extolling the virtues of sleep. I've given classes on sleep to teenagers. Sleep is one of the first habits I do a check-in with when meeting with clients. I've been the sleep sergeant in my own house with my own kids. And I am most often found, at 9 pm, in bed with a good book, about to nod off to sleep. I have such a reputation for an early bedtime that my friends actually thank me for staying at get-togethers past my bedtime. So the advice I want to share with you today, amid COVID-19, is use this time to get on a great sleep routine.
How to do that? Oh yeah have I got some research-backed ideas:
1. Turn down overhead lights when the sun starts to go down. Turn on that ambient lighting and create an evening mood.
2. Get off your phone. Okay, yes, the phone is our connection with the world outside our 100 meters, but that blue light and wonky news and endless scrolling are messing with your sleep. Turn it off at least one hour before sleep, but pretty, pretty, please turn it off two hours before for even better results.
3. Do not eat before bedtime. Sleep and digestion are not besties. Finish your evening meal a few hours before sleep and top your night off with a tea at the most.
4. Ditch the alcohol before bed. Yes, I know that there are a lot of drinking jokes and consumption going on now, but alcohol will affect your sleep cycles. So ditch it or choose anight to enjoy and imbibe so you get good sleep the majority of the week.
5. Create an evening routine that you do every night before bed. Train your brain like one of Pavlov's dogs and turn on that diffuser, take a hot bath, have a tea, and make bed time sacred.
Seriously y'all, half the worlds problems would be solved with a little more sleep. World peace, normal ghrelin and leptin levels, and a robust immune response. These are all things we need now. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Sleep is a necessity. Stop dreaming about it and do it. (Apologies for the pun).