Sleeping Well


I tell myself that I had a bad night’s sleep when I wake up a few times in the night. I think of a “good sleep” as going to bed and not waking until morning. When I tell myself I didn’t sleep well, I start my day feeling deprived, and depleted. I wonder if I’ll have the energy I need to meet the demands of the day ahead. But when I look back on the day, I realize that I had enough energy and didn’t think about being tired. I obviously had enough sleep but I told myself that I didn’t. Why do I do that?

Waking Up A Few Times Is A “Good Sleep”

I looked into this and it turns out that waking up a few times a night is normal and can increase with age. Getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t necessarily mean sleeping all night without waking. I need to move on from this story. If I woke up a few times in the night but went back to sleep fairly quickly, I had a good sleep. “It’s normal to wake up during the night, even for the deepest sleepers.”* This is mind-blowing information! It changes how I start my day and think about my sleep. I am sleeping well, almost all the time! Yay, me!

Photo by Anna Shvets on

Bad Sleep Can Happen

A “bad sleep” would be waking for a prolonged time and this occasionally happens for me. There are a number of reasons why it might happen to you from time to time (including health conditions, medications, foods, and environment).* Setting good sleep habits helps and this is easier when you’re retired. I can organize my time to exercise well-before bedtime. I can eat a smaller meal for dinner and not rush to eat right before going to bed. I have time to meditate and wind down at the end of the day instead of rushing around prepping for the next workday. Hey, I even have time for a bath before bed if I choose. 

Photo by KoolShooters on


If you are having a run of “bad sleep” nights, there are things you can do. If I wake in the night, my favourite strategy is to remember to focus on my breath and take slow purposeful breaths. Eventually, my brain gets bored and goes back to sleep. Worrying about not sleeping can just make the situation worse. (As worrying about anything will do.) This tip from Dr. Brandon Peters, a neurologist and sleep medicine specialist, is something I want to try next time I’m having a run of sleepless nights: 

“he suggests setting an alarm before bed each night and covering it up so you can’t check the time: ‘If you wake at night and don’t hear the alarm, it doesn’t matter what time it is. You get to go back to sleep. This will reduce the likelihood that the awakening will start the mind racing and contribute to insomnia.’”**

Tell Yourself The Truth About Your Sleep

Did you sleep well last night?  Probably you did. Yay, you! Re-frame how you think about sleep and remember that waking up a few times in the night is normal. Then, commend yourself on your healthy rest.

Photo by Kampus Production on

*Click here for more information about sleep.


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