My last post about sleep was focused on supplements that can help you sleep. You can check it out here.
Well, good sleep is about a lot more than just taking a bunch of pills so I think I owe it to my readers to post this information as well.
The most important thing about getting a good night’s sleep is about creating good rituals and habits around sleep. When you practice these habits consistently, you will notice improvements.
It can sometimes take a few days, or maybe longer, to see the positive effects so please hang in there and keep practicing these good habits.
1. Unplug. Yeah, I have a hard time with this one too. But when I do unplug, it does help me sleep better Aim to turn off all electronics at least an hour before your desired bed time.
Basically, the blue light of your computer, smartphone and television can mess with your circadian rhythm. I purchased a beautiful (note the sarcasm) pair of amber tinted glasses to help combat this so I could continue to do my work in the evenings, but they weren’t very helpful for me. I personally tend to get a headache from them so just calling it a day on the phone and computer is really what I need to do. Some people have to also turn off the TV, but I notice that I’m affected most by the computer and phone.
2. No caffeine after 12 pm. I know, what’s with me telling you all these horrible things? But alas it’s true, caffeine CAN have an effect on your sleep cycle even 8 or more hours after your last drink.
If coffee is really your thing, then how about switching to decaf for any afternoon cups you want to consume? But fair warning, if you drink more than 2 cups of coffee or other caffeinated drinks per day, you’ll want to cut back gradually to avoid that horrible caffeine withdrawal. You’ll also want to watch out for the caffeine in sodas and chocolate. Yeah, I’m a big buzz kill.
3. You know that evening glass of wine or other adult drink you love? I’m really sorry, but that might have a negative effect as well. Good lord, what kind of helpful post is this supposed to be? I’m sorry, but this one is true too.
Alcohol can be quite helpful to put you to sleep, but it’s often the culprit for why people can’t stay asleep. Have you ever noticed that you often wake up, wide awake, a few hours after a couple of evening drinks?
While a glass of red wine can be really healthy, if consumed too close to bedtime it might wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. Some people need to eliminate it altogether where others do fine with just having it a couple hours earlier in the evening.
4. Go to sleep at the same time every night. The experts say to do this even on the weekends, but I personally find that during the week is most important for me. Experiment with this one to see if you do best when you maintain the same sleep/wake times 7 days a week or if you’re okay just during the work week.
5. Plan for 8 solid hours of sleep. Simply reverse engineer this one. If you have to wake up at 6am, then it’s lights out and eyes closed no later than 10 pm in order to get a solid 8 hours.
It is said that going to bed past 10 isn’t good for you no matter how many hours you get, so you might need to experiment with this one as well to see what works best for you. And the older we get, the more important it is to get those 8 hours of sleep.
6. Meditate. This doesn’t have to be a big time commitment; 5 minutes might be enough to do the trick. Some people do well if they meditate at any time of day, others do best when the meditate right before bed. Again, experiment and see what works best for you.
Meditation can be as easy as sitting or laying still and focusing on your breathing. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or woo-woo. Here are a few options for a guided meditation, if you need some help: guided meditation for sleep or there’s an app for that.
7. Make your bedroom DARK. Get some blackout shades for your windows, alarm clocks that can be dimmed and dump the night lights or get one on a motion sensor. The darker you can make your room, the better. One of the best night’s sleep I got recently was the night we had a neighborhood-wide blackout.
8. Natural light alarm clock. I haven’t tried a device like this yet, but I hear great things about them. Waking up gradually, simulating a sunrise, keeps your body most in-tune with it’s natural circadian rhythm. And it would certainly be helpful if you follow #6 and make your room really dark. Amazon has a lot of different options for these. I think I see one in my near future.
As with any kind of big change, I always recommend attacking these things slowly. Try just one change and see if it works for you. If it does, then great, maybe you don’t have to sacrifice that evening drink after all.
Use your outcome as your guide and do the smallest amount possible to produce the result you desire. So, for example, maybe just eliminating the caffeine is enough for you to get a solid 8 hours each night. If that’s the case, then great! If that one habit doesn’t do the trick in a few days, then add one additional habit, and look at the outcome. We call this outcome-based decision making and it’s a very powerful way to assess what does and does not work.
After you’ve given one of these tips a try, please leave a comment below to let us know how it’s working for you!