When someone starts talking about a thing as ubiquitous and normal as sleep you know that they have thought a lot about it. And that ain’t a good thing! Someone who talks a lot about sleep is either selling you a mattress (every podcaster ever) or they have stayed up far too late for for far too many nights and are now living in a perpetual fugue state.
So this sleep-deprived dumb-dumb wants to talk about it for just a moment. Here are a few tips that I’m working on internalizing myself.
Schedule your day
Is it the same amount you had the night before? This is the most important concept to latch onto when it comes to sleep. Your body craves consistency. Getting to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time is the first step in sleeping and living better.
Keep a log
Not sure if you have a rhythm or what to adjust about your daily routine? For the next couple weeks keep a log of when you wake up, when you eat, when you stop looking at screens in the evening, when you go to bed. Look for the patterns and variances and adjust.
Whether you are getting 7,8,9,10 hours… if you can live with some measure of consistency in your daily routine you will wake up feeling more rested. This stretches out into your waking hours as well. Try as much as you can to eat your meals at the same time each day. Start and finish your work day at the same time. Your body will work with this rhythm and tell you when you are tired. Then, your job is to listen!
Coffee, alcohol, medications and other substances mess with your inner timer. Pay attention to when you have your last cup of coffee and try to avoid caffeine in the second half of your day. Listen to your body on days when you drink more or take pain meds or stimulants and see how they affect how well you sleep as well as your energy levels.
You know your limits. These things are part of life and it simply pays to be attentive to how they are changing our habits and routines for good or bad.
Starting your day with a walk, run, gym routine or whatever will transfer good feelings to the rest of your day (unless it is a new habit, in which case it will transfer grumpiness and a desire to never move again for fear of disturbing your aching muscles!)
But ending your day with exercise may disrupt your body more than help it. Of course, pragmatically, it’s better to exercise than not and if the end of the day is the only time you can fit it in than go for it, but be prepared to let your body wind down afterward. Adjust your bedtime routine accordingly.
Sit, lay down, chant, listen to instructional audio or tinkling chimes. Whatever. Turn down the lights. Find a quiet and relaxing space. And just breathe – deeply and rhythmically. Don’t worry about getting it right. Don’t worry about falling asleep while practicing. Just breathe. Meditation is a great way to wind down before bedtime. Put away the phone, turn off the tv, let those harsh lights and constant notifications stop for the day. And. Just. Breathe.
Speaking of those screens…
Turn them off! No matter how mind-numbing scrolling through instagram or twitter may feel it is not letting your brain truly rest. Anxiety is ramping up on you the more you slide your thumb across your phone. Put it away.
If you have to work on a computer before bed make sure you use your operation system’s built in light warming features or an app like Flux to get rid of that blue light. The colour temperature of the light entering your eyes makes all the difference in the stress the screen is heaping on you.
When it is time to turn in get rid of the light. Buy thick curtains for your window. Anything in your room that is plugged in and feels the need to tell you with a little glowing green or blue light is disrupting your brain’s relaxation. Super easy solution – Cover them with tape.
Limit your bedroom activities
Make your sleeping space a sleeping space! Keep the TV out of the room. If possible during the day don’t work in your bedroom. There should be two uses for your bed and they both start with “S”. And the other one is not snacking.
That’s all for now! If you have other tips for good sleep leave a comment below.