Chronic conditions require a lot more rest than we expect and quality rest is not always easy to come by. We can sleep a lot and still not wake up feeling restored. It can be hard to settle down your body when it is in pain or overtired, and things like medical treatment can disrupt your daily routines and how your body functions and reacts. It is not always as easy as “Oh I feel tired, I will go have a nap” and drop off to sleep. Preparation is key to conditioning your mind and body into a state where it can rest and relax.
These are my tips for a good quality rest in the afternoon. I do this ritual every day and it is the practice of the ritual that makes it permanent to the point that my body now knows the cues and responds instantly. Hopefully with a little experimenting and awareness, you can work out a ritual that is perfect for you too.
- Ease into it – set yourself up in a darker place with a quiet activity like reading or meditation for half an hour before you intend to rest. Gradually wind yourself down from full activity to a slower speed.
- Make your rest area comfortable – darken the room, and if you can’t block out the bright daylight completely, try to soften it with a warm light. I turn on a Himalayan salt lamp and make sure that the light is not directly in my face. If that is not an option, I will use an eye mask or place a dark microfiber face towel over my eyes and forehead. During the day our body temperature is different than it is at bedtime, so we may need to have different clothes or bedding.
- Put your phone on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ setting – set it up so that only calls from your emergency contacts will come through. Let people close to you know that you plan to have some rest time during certain hours of the day and to not to contact you then, especially if rest time does become part of your regular routine. The single action of switching on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ button puts me at ease and makes me feel like it is my own dedicated time with no interruptions!
- Set an alarm to wake up so you don’t oversleep, miss your medication or any other important things.
- Block out noise – use earplugs or try a white noise app!
- Do what you can to make your body comfortable. Gently stretch or massage sore areas, take some deep belly breaths, or just roll and wriggle around until you find the most comfortable position.
- Try a meditation track or app to ease you into sleep. This is my favourite way to ease into sleep in the afternoon or evening. My body is programmed now that when the track starts, I instantly relax down and feel my body get heavier.
- Learn your sleep cycles – experiment to see if you feel better after a half hour power nap, or if you need a bit longer. I find that an hour and a half is the perfect amount and fits a natural sleep cycle. It all depends on the day though. If it’s been a high level activity day or if I’ve had medical treatment, an even longer nap is quite usual and necessary.
- If you can’t sleep, call it a Quiet Hour! Lie down or sit comfortably with your eyes closed and listen to soothing music or an audiobook. Just having dedicated timeout is restorative.
- Wake up gradually and slowly move – when dealing with a chronic condition, sometimes changing from a horizontal to vertical position, or if you go from lying still to full fast movement can bring on symptoms. Gradually work up to it and ease into movement over time.
This ritual is all about being aware of what works for you, so pay attention to what makes you feel good and restored. With practice and time, you will have plenty of options up your sleeve to help you get the best possible rest each day.
Please leave a comment below if you discover any more helpful tips for quality rest!
Take good care, Readers. I’ll keep the light on (and dimmed down until you wake).