Sleep is super important.
Most people (funnily enough, those who are not chronically sleep deprived) will feel a marked difference when losing as little as an hour of sleep a night. The differences usually include being easily stressed out, angered or emotional, losing cognitive function (slower to react, reaching for words, forgetting things, etc), and just being less happy. Also, sleeping time is essential time for the body to repair, heal, clean house. When we disturb that process, we are putting ourselves in harms way by weakening our immune response and not allowing the intelligence of this amazing body to do its thang.
I’ve studied sleep a lot, and have experimented tons. I have compiled a good list of things we can do to sleep better. They come from all angles and will absolutely help you sleep better.
So we know sleep is important, but how much so?
Getting quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Nothing else will make up for it. Period. Dot. Exclamation point!
Here are a few strategies to sleep better, earlier, and not have that excruciating experience. Each is strong on its own but combined with the others will rock your bed time blues and have you sleeping like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Dim the lights 1-3 hours before bed. Better yet, dim the lights and get some low blue light glasses. All that blue light from all those screens really tell the brain to stay awake. You’ll be amazed at how sleepy you’ll get. It feels almost natural. 🙂 It’s totally natural by the way. Back in the day, before screens ruled the world, we slept a lot easier, better and earlier.
The second tip relates to the first; turn off your screens at least an hour before bed. Yes, disconnect. I know it’s not easy, but it’ll be worth it. At the very least, if you cannot or will not turn off those screens, wear your low-blue light glasses while looking at them (mine look like below) and install flux on your computer or phone. It is free for your Mac and your PC. www.justgetflux.com. It’s an awesome program that takes away the blue hue from your screen when the sun goes down. So intelligent!
This one is really a mental thing; don’t “try” to sleep. Often the night before a big day we lose sleep because on those very nights, we are “trying” to sleep the most, or earlier, or some other form of “trying”. Something I discovered helped me sleep better, exactly where trying failed.
Sleeping and trying to sleep are on exact opposite ends of the spectrum.
Trying to sleep = tossing, turning, thoughts at a million miles a minute, anxiety caused by these things (read trying to sleep) and the cycle continues.It started with the tips above and getting in bed earlier in (near) complete darkness and not trying to sleep. Just relaxing. Listening to some paraliminals and allowing myself to simply be. Also, they say an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after. Imagine that.
Here are some additional AWESOME and EFFECTIVE methods that will surely get you to sleep, stat:
– When you start to feel tired, don’t push through it. Get in bed, and allow it to take you off to slumber land. When we push through that initial tired feeling, we get our second wind and we have to wait for another cycle of sleepiness to come to us. It’s often much later than we would like.
– Cut off caffeine early in the day. I go for noon or one pm.
– Move your butt. If you sit down most of the day, move more. Even if it is just doing laps around the cube farm – do it. Integrate exercise within your day. Squat when you have to pick something up – and drop things often. Stretch, walk, sprint whatever. A tired mind coupled with a body that has not been challenged enough may keep you awake.
– Watch sugar consumption. This is a sneaky one! The difference in a nights sleep between low sugar consumption to high is crazy. Tossing and turning versus sleeping like a baby.
– Avoid anxiety causing things in the late evening. Don’t work, or deal with things that cause you stress. Seems simple, but we often go against this. Don’t look at your work email or mentally dive into situations that create tension or stress. I’ve started thinking of the last few hours of the day as relaxation time. I don’t look at my email as much and leave “important matters” for the next day. This way, I sleep better, fall asleep easier and am in a better mental space to handle such things the next day.
– If something stress-inducing is on your mind, or if you’re worried about the next day, write it out. Take five minutes or less and write down what is bothering you, and outline a quick game plan for the next day. It is crazy how well it works!
– Sleep in darkness. Complete darkness is ideal. Get some blackout curtains. I like these. Put something over any illuminated items like clock radios.
– Don’t eat an hour before bed (at least). If you get hunger pains after 10 pm that is your body’s self-cleaning taking place. It feels like hunger. Eating will mess us the cleaning process and throw things off. Also, digesting and sleeping are not symbiotic functions. Choose sleep.
– Turn off wi-fi in your home. Our bodies are super freaking intelligent. You think they can’t sense all those EMF waves buzzing about? Put your phone on airplane mode or turn it off completely. Try not to have it right next to your head while you sleep.
Okay folks. There are a lot of valuable ideas here. Implement them one at a time and see what gives you the most benefit. Use them all at once and sleep like a log. Share what works and anything I’ve missed.
Excellent article on sleeping better and the effects of artificial lights.
“How Artificial Lights are Wrecking Your Sleep and What to Do About It”
This is where I learned about blue lights and their effect. If you click on the link and scroll down to the video, the guy who is being interviewed is a former GE engineer. He is retired now, but he was around when they were developing new light technologies and actually understands in a very subtle way what the lights do to our physiology. It is pretty amazing.
Also, it’s where I bought my first pair of low blue-light glasses. They were on the pricer end, but I use them practically every night. Also, they have light bulbs and other things you can use.