Dickson: It’s not how well you slept, but how well you think you slept

Sep 28, 2023, 1:00 PM

If you're looking at getting good sleep, you'll want to focus on your thoughts about it as opposed ...

KSL NewsRadio's Utah Morning News host Amanda Dickson has been searching how getting good sleep is possible with her schedule for years. (Amanda Dickson/KSL NewsRadio)

(Amanda Dickson/KSL NewsRadio)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

My father was a wonderful, brilliant and kind man. He enjoyed vigorous health most of his life with one notable exception. He slept terribly. Or should I say he thought he slept terribly? There is new research that shows your satisfaction about getting good sleep is more directly connected to your well-being than the actual quality of your sleep.

The study participants were asked five times a day how they slept, when they went to sleep, when they woke, how they felt at the moment. Additionally, they all wore devices to measure the actual quality of their sleep.

What they found is so interesting: Your well-being is not as connected to the actual quality of your sleep as it is to how you perceive the quality of your sleep.

First-hand experience of getting good sleep

This speaks to me. One of the few things I have found to be difficult about the job I love at KSL NewsRadio is the alarm going off at 2:30 a.m.

Early on in my 30 years of doing the morning show, I would lie awake at 9, 10, and 10:30 p.m., worrying that I couldn’t go to sleep. That worry would carry into a fitful night’s sleep and into my waking. I would often complain to whoever would listen that I had a rough night’s sleep.

Just like my dad.

One of my earliest memories is of my mother trying to keep all of us quiet so my dad could sleep. I remember him getting angry with anyone who would wake him. I remember his complaining about how poorly he slept almost every time we talked in the last 40 years of his life.

He had all kinds of tricks he thought would help him sleep better. Only eat certain foods in the morning and only a short list of other foods past 5 p.m. He would take food to his bedroom so if he woke in the night, he could eat immediately, and that would help him fall back to sleep.

None of these things worked, or seemed to, at least. He never woke in the morning feeling ready for the day.

What I’ve learned

This is what I tell myself now when I can’t go to sleep or don’t sleep well: “Amanda, you are not a brain surgeon. No one is going to die if you are tired at work today. You’ve been lots worse than tired in your life, so go be of service to someone.”

This attitude has served me so well, that I marvel sometimes. I wish my father was still alive so I could share it with him. As soon as I stop worrying, I feel better. If I’m not better rested, it doesn’t matter. I’ll sleep more the next night… or the night after that.

I have learned over time that half the battle is just showing up. I put one foot on the floor, and then the other. Then I turn the shower on and get in before it’s completely warm. This evil tactic goes a long way to waking me up. Then before I leave in the morning, I remind myself of the many, many blessings I have. I think about my children sleeping soundly, the sound of my husband breathing as he sleeps, the strength in my body that lets me get up at that time every day, and the knowledge that getting to serve others is a privilege.

Amanda Dickson is the co-host of Utah’s Morning News and A Woman’s View.

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Dickson: It’s not how well you slept, but how well you think you slept