Not being able to get satisfactory sleep impacts the lives of millions of people. Considering that sleep is the only time that the body has a chance to repair and rejuvenate, this is a problem. Poor sleep affects performance at work and school, can cause relationship and social issue, and results in a reduced quality of life.
If you suffer from insomnia, then you know all this already.
Sleeping pills are a multi-billion dollar business. And, frankly, some of them work pretty well. But there is some concerns about long-term brain health and some other documented issues. If you can sleep without them, than that is the way to do it.
Check out these proven strategies for getting consistent, refreshing sleep. As a life-long insomniac, I can guarantee that you will have a better sleep if you follow these rules.
The Better Sleep Guidelines
1. Write down what you need to do tomorrow.
Do thought race through your head at night? Everything that needs to get done. Regrets about what you didn’t accomplish during the day.
Before you go to bed, you need to write down what needs to happen the next day. This will allow the mind to let go and stop trying to commit to memory what needs to get done.
Use a pen and paper, not your phone or laptop. The screen brightness activates your brain – plus the temptation is too high to check email or look at social media.
2. Be consistent with your sleep schedule.
The mind and body love routines. Routines set up patterns, and patterns reduce the need to think. Keep a consistent schedule of going to bed at the same time. Don’t “sleep in” on the weekends or off days. Get up at the same time in order to maintain the schedule.
3. Be consistent with your pre-bed routine.
Start a process about an hour before bed that puts you in a state conducive to sleep.
Try these approaches:
– Relax: meditation, music, reading, yoga, or breathing techniques.
– Avoid looking at a bright screen prior to bedtime. The light can suppress release of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin signals the brain to go to sleep.
4. Set up your bedroom for sleep.
– Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature.
– Wear earplugs for noise and a sleep mask if light bother your sleep.
– Get blackout shades for the windows to keep out light.
– Use a white noise machine, or even a fan, to mask outside or household noises.
– Don’t lie in bed watching TV or reading. This way, your bed becomes associated with sleep.
5. Get out of bed if you can’t sleep.
If you go to bed and can’t get to the sleep, then you need to get up. Lying there can be counter-productive if it gives you anxiety about the fact that you are not sleeping. This just sets up a vicious circle.
You need to get up and get out of the pattern of being awake in bed. Lying in bed awake for hours really accomplishes nothing. You’ll still be exhausted the next day.
6. Track the impact of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
Caffeine is in coffee, tea, energy drinks and some medication. Alcohol can help some people fall asleep initially but has been shown to result in poor quality sleep. Once the booze wears off, the body will become active again. That’s why you wake up and still feel exhausted.
7. Stop procrastinating at life.
When you lie down in bed, does your mind immediately start listing all the things that you know you should do but haven’t? Are these the same things night after night?
Maybe they are uncomfortable, or embarrassing, or hard. Anxious thoughts about the future can be a major contributor to insomnia. Write them down, put action items beside them and resolve to get out from underneath their weight. Resolving those issue hanging over your head can make a genuine difference to sleep quality.
8. Make sure you get regular exercise.
The fatigue and generally better health will help you sleep and reduce insomnia. Even if it is just a daily 20 minute walk.
The only caution is to not do intense exercise within a few hours of bedtime. It will ramp up your adrenalin levels and can make it hard to fall asleep.
It’s hard to thrive when you are exhausted. Try these approaches and see how they can help.