Beep! Beep! Beep! Can that alarm clock sound be any more annoying? How can it be morning already? Often struggling to get a good night’s sleep, these are often the questions that accompany the start of my morning routine. While I am usually tired from a long day, I often struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep during the night. Replayed events from yesterday and worries about tomorrow plague my mind as I count sheep in vain. Having never worn the title of a “good sleeper,” I set out to find ways to make going to sleep and staying asleep just a little bit easier. Here’s what I’ve discovered…
Turn It Off
Turn off anything with an “on and off” switch at least an hour before bed. Screen time is visually stimulating and makes it difficult to go straight to sleep after our minds have been activated by a television or computer. In addition, computers and cell phones are often linked to work, which creates stress right before we want our bodies to rest. Going from work mode to sleep mode is too much of a transition for our minds and bodies to make in such a short period of time.
Lose the Caffeine
I love a good caffeinated “pick me up” in the afternoon…preferably a latte made with almond milk. However, I have learned that I will pay for this afternoon treat later. As tired as I may feel in the afternoon hours, I will certainly be wired at night if I indulge in caffeine beyond the morning.
Dim the Lights
Dimming the lights about an hour before bed eases our bodies into sleep mode. Our bodies need time to transition from the work and stress of the day to the rest and calm of sleep. Allowing our minds and bodies time to make the switch makes us more likely to fall asleep quickly when it’s “lights out” time.
If you are anything like me, your mind can race at night. Whether you are replaying conversations from the day or forming a “to-do” list for tomorrow. Whatever thoughts might be filling your mind, it is often helpful to keep a blank journal or blank pad of paper to empty your brain of the thoughts as they come. This way, you can insure a peaceful night’s sleep.
Pack the Night Before
Instead of going to bed with a long list of things to do in the morning, try packing your bag for the next day before you go to sleep in order to avoid waking in a panic over all the tasks that need to be done in a short period of time. Also, knowing you are ready for the next day will mean less to worry about as you try to fall asleep.
Read for Pleasure
We often feel the pressure to read something that is “beneficial” in some way if we have time to read at all. Instead of reading a work related article or book or even a self-help book, try reading a book for pleasure. Reading a novel will mean we are less likely to start thinking about work or other serious matters right before we attempt sleep for the night.
Clean Your Room
Our external environment informs our internal environment and vice versa. When our bedroom is cluttered, it is difficult for our mind to be at peace. In order to give ourselves the best chance at a relaxing night’s sleep, we must make every attempt to keep our bedrooms tidy for as relaxing an environment as possible.
Our bodies respond well to routine and rhythm and our sleep schedule is no different. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and night is a simple way to ensure a good night’s sleep. Over time, our bodies will count on a particular time as “sleep time” and “wake time” and will respond accordingly without extra effort on our part.
As I complete this article, it is past my bedtime, the television is on, the lights are bright, my room is a mess, and nothing is done for tomorrow. Having broken all of my own rules, perhaps we can agree to start these new resolutions together tomorrow? Best of luck, and sweet dreams!
Image via Modern Hepburn