If you’re like me, then you love nothing more than getting a really good nights sleep. Have you ever really intently observed your child(ren) in the morning when he/she awakes? In most cases, she has a smile on her face, a sparkle in her eye and an unstoppable amount of energy. Most of us look at her in complete bewilderment, thinking to ourselves, “Where does she get all of that energy? Doesn’t she know it’s only 6:00 in the morning? UGH!” And then, you pull the covers over your head trying to ignore them.
Well, you can also “sleep like a baby.”
I want to say tell you I know how you feel. As the saying goes, “been there done that.” In nearly all my years punching a time clock, I have worked an exorbitant amount of shifts starting in the early morning hours and/or working 10-12 hour shifts. I have also worked more than my fair share of long graveyard shifts. Throughout my various careers I have learned some very valuable skills/tools to sleep better. Some of these I have been taught and some of them I discovered on my own. I want to share them with you.
10 Ways to Sleep Better
- Go to Bed Early. As you might imagine, it is much more pleasant and enjoyable to get an extra hour of sleep than to not get enough. Try to put this into practice at least one day per week, especially when you find yourself dragging about and feeling exhausted. There really is no such thing as catching up on your sleep. It is best to make time for some extra sleep when needed.
- No electronics in bed. There is an abundance of research studies which have shown that the “blue light” emitted from your cell phone, tablet, television or whatever is very stimulating to your brain. You may think you have to have the TV playing when you go to bed or playing on your tablet helps you fall asleep faster, but this is truly a fallacy. Do yourself a favor and do without. Indeed, “Blue light has a dark side.”
- Fluff up your bed. Make your sleeping arrangement extremely comfortable. I really need a new mattress but I can’t afford one right now. So, I went and purchased a foam pad to use on top of mattress for now. Fluff up your pillows, place your sheets and blankets the way you like them, and take everything else off your bed. If your bed is comfy, you will sleep better.
- Little to no fluids. If you’re like me and have to take medications before or at bedtime, use very little water. If your doctor has told you to drink a specific type of fluid then follow his/her directions. If not, take your meds with water. Drink a very small amount, only as much as you need to swallow them. Water is not only healthier, but it won’t upset your stomach. And the less you drink before bed, the fewer trips you will have to take during the night to use the bathroom.
- Keep paper & pencil nearby. This is huge! Often times I will be settling into bed and getting comfortable and I will suddenly have a thought consuming my brain, often times about a dozen of them. Keep your brain and thoughts free of clutter. When you have one of those thoughts, reach for you pencil and paper and write it down (Remember, no electronics!). Your mind will be at ease because you have made a note of it and it will be there for you in the morning.
- Make your room darker. It is important that your brain acknowledges your room with nighttime. If you sleep during the day then this is really important. In my current home, even though I sleep when it’s dark outside, I have a very bright outside light which happens to shine through my bedroom window. It’s very annoying. Try placing a large piece of cardboard in your window. You can also use aluminum foil or room darkening curtains. The darker it is in the room where you sleep, the better.
- Monitor what you eat. You will find a lot of very conflicting reports about whether you should or shouldn’t eat before bedtime. Personally, I have found that it’s more about what I eat. There isn’t much worse than lying in bed trying to go to sleep and experiencing heartburn, indigestion or worse. Here is a great link about what foods to consume and which foods to avoid. Everyone is different and so it’s important to find out what works best for you.
- No caffeine. Most likely you already know all about caffeine. However, let’s discuss the basics. Caffeine is a stimulant. This means it basically revs you up and activates your mind and body. Everyone reacts to caffeine differently. I can drink a can of Diet Pepsi an hour before bedtime and it doesn’t affect me at all. But if I drink several cans, that is an entirely different scenario. Best practice, just avoid caffeine altogether. Better safe than sorry, correct? Read all about caffeine and sleep.
- Associate your room with only sleep. If you can, make your bedroom a place where all you do is sleep. By doing this you are teaching your mind and body that your bedroom is only for sleep. Your body will begin to associate your room as the place to sleep and nothing else. Remember, this means no television in your bedroom. You will be pleasantly surprised by how quickly this trick works. You will start falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer.
- Create “white noise.” With the advancement of technology came TV’s, Blu-Ray players and other electronics. As I mentioned above, don’t use these while trying to fall asleep. Like many, you may have gotten used to falling asleep to the sound of the television. This is what we refer to as “white noise.” However, the blue light emitted as well as the constant flickering is only going to prevent you from getting really good quality sleep. Living in an apartment complex of some sort my entire adult life, I have to use “white noise.” Neighbors are noisy and in most cases there isn’t anything you can do about it. I have learned to sleep with a fan going. You can also use a sound machine. Do not listen to upbeat noise that makes you want to get up and dance or tap your feet.
If you haven’t tried any of these, then please start. If there is something on here you haven’t considered, then see if it helps. It is not only important to get enough hours of sleep, but to experience really good quality sleep.
What trick or skill do you use? Tomorrow’s post I’ll talk about how to improve your mornings.