UNITED STATES—It feels like we have this conversation every couple of months, but we are having this conversation once again because it is vital to our body, mind and spirit being fully energized people. I have major difficulty sleeping at night; I’ve had this issue since college. What is the actual root cause? I don’t know, it could have been the fact that I literally had a loaded schedule throughout my entire undergraduate career. I mean a full load of classes, a job on campus, a job off campus, the notion of getting sleep became foreign to me. Why?

Well when you have a work/school day that begins at 6 a.m. and doesn’t end till 11 p.m. or midnight the body becomes so worried it becomes hard to sleep. It got to the point that my body would be so wired, I’d be up for 24 to 36 hours straight without sleep. I think my record was 40 hours. This is NOT me advocating for people to indulge in such tactics. It is not smart, it is honestly dangerous to deprive your body of sleep America, so don’t be stupid.

The problem with that tactic is that it ultimately led to me crashing and burning. I would literally sleep 12 to 15 hours the following day after being up for more than 24 hours in a single span people. After about a year, that crazy chaotic schedule came to an end and I was thankful people. However, as I’ve gotten older my schedule has NOT gotten better it has gotten more chaotic to the point that I don’t know what to do at this point people. I sometimes get a sweet spot if I am able to NOT have anything to do: no work, no school, no responsibilities and I might eek in a 6 to 7 hour sleep fest. Yes, I call it a sleep fest because if I can get over 6 hours of sleep that is GREAT for me!

On average now, I am lucky if I can get 4 to 5 hours of sleep. The problem is it is NOT quality sleep. I’m tossing and turning all night. It is like I just want to sleep without any distraction or restlessness. As of late I’ve discovered that light is a big trigger impacting my sleep! Phones have to be turned off, I need absolute silence in terms of noise besides a fan going that calms me to sleep and I have to have dark shades. The smallest glimmer of light that peeks thru the blinds or shades immediately enters the eye somehow and I’m up.

I’m NOT like most people when it comes to sleep, once I’m up, I am up and I cannot go back to sleep even if I try. I have learned that if my body is tired or I get sleepy that I should NOT fight my sleep and I have started to sleep if my body tells me its time. Why? I actually get quality sleep with those 30 to 45 minute naps. They can sometimes feel like 6 to 8 hours of sleep, but it all varies people.

So what am I doing to sleep better? I try to breathe first and foremost and just calm myself before preparing for sleep. I ensure I use the bathroom because nothing is worse than having to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. That will disrupt your sleep and for me once my sleep is disturbed it is very difficult for me to fix it. At the same time, I eliminate as much light in my bedroom as possible. The phone, iPad or tablet is put away and I close those blinds as tight as possible to prevent any light from seeping in. I pray for limited noise because I am indeed a light sleeper; the smallest sound will trigger me to wake up.

I know I am NOT the only person who has difficulty getting quality sleep at night, but it if has become such an issue that you have trouble functioning during the day it might be time to see a sleep specialist to see what the problem is and ways to best fix it.