Sleep. Most of us know we need to get more of it, but assume that we can sleep when we retire, someday, on vacation, whatever. Sleep is vital. Yet, when your body screams out for it, you drag yourself from bed to "be productive." Yeah, right, the body says. I'll show you! So your day of productivity turns into an endless slog of mind-numbing effort to little avail. Exactly. Like when I stay up late to finish a project, yet could have gone to bed (assuming I could sleep, but that is another story) and worked much more productively after a few blissful hours of rest.
Sometimes sleep is not blissful. Due to habits (caffeine for example), late night stimulation (computer and TV are prime culprits), or physical issues (lots of different things, like ulcers or sleep apnea can interfere with sleep, for example) we struggle to drift off to sleep, wake frequently, or just wake up still tired, despite having slept "enough" hours. But who says how much is enough for the individual? Eight hours is an estimate or average, and some will need more, some less. I also tend to need considerably more sleep when I am recuperating from any illness or less than needed sleep for several successive nights!
I like sleep, when it works out. In the mornings, I invariably feel that staying in bed would be excellent. However, I typically have to get up, both due to physical demands and the requirements of responsible living (i.e. working). Sleeping in is the very best sleep I get, when I can get away with it.
On the other hand, getting to sleep at night is rather more of a challenge. I always have a million things to do, and I don't feel relaxed going to bed with a bunch of stuff still undone. My comfort level seems to spread out to a physical level, and the stress and tension of the day bunch up in various parts of my body, leading to an awkward session filled with tossing and turning, plus the ever-present fight with sinus and allergy issues (always exacerbated by the prone position...)
Seriously, I don't want to complain. Well, maybe, but only a little. The main point here is that lack of sleep leads to more physical and mental issues, and then we end up even more unable to function (or sleep!)...
One thing I have been trying to do recently is sleep a certain number of cycles. Lots of good information, including information about the 90 minute sleep cycles, is available at http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm. According to the research we get a better quality of sleep if we complete sleep cycles. The following summary is quoted from the page.
Having a hard time getting up? Take advantage of the 90-minute sleep cycle.
Even if you’ve enjoyed a full night’s sleep, getting out of bed isn’t easy if your alarm goes off when you’re in the middle of the deeper stages of sleep (especially stages 3 and 4). If you want to make mornings less painful, set a wake-up time that’s a multiple of 90 minutes, the length of the average sleep cycle. For example, if you go to bed at 10 p.m., set your alarm for 5:30 (a total of 7 ½ hours of sleep) instead of 6:00 or 6:30. You’ll feel more refreshed at 5:30 than you will with another 30 to 60 minutes of sleep, because you’re getting up when your body and brain are already close to wakefulness.
I don't get the chance to do this every night either. And sometimes when I plan for it, I can't fall asleep soon enough, and it throws the whole thing off. But its a goal to work toward, I suppose. Other factors that are important to getting good rest is to sleep in a dark room (Don't sleep in front of the TV!) and keep sound to a minimum. I guess white noise is okay, but I am personally fond of a quiet sleeping environment. I have become a relatively light sleeper over the years, and frequently find myself awakened by toilets flushing, lawn mowing two houses down, or the warning beep of the trash truck backing up!
Well, that was quite the ramble. Now I think I better go to sleep. Or at least try!