For the past three years or so I’ve had a terrible time sleeping. I can’t count the nights I’d lie in bed for hours trying to sleep then finally doze off at 4:00 am only to wake up at 6:30 to go to work. I’d live on caffeine just to get myself through the day. I would slug through the week just waiting for Saturday so I could finally sleep in. I decided I had enough and so I started to do some research on sleep and how to beat insomnia. One of the best things I ran across was Dr. Michael Breus’s book “The Power of When.” Dr Breus specializes in sleeping disorders and wrote this book as a way to help people understand their biological clocks and how to make the most of them. Here are a few tips I picked up to help you get a better night sleep.
Stick to a Strict Sleep Schedule: Wake up at the same time and go to bed at the same time every day. Your body needs consistency when it comes to your sleep schedule. Sometimes you can’t choose how late you stay up, but you can always choose to wake up at the same time. Even on Saturday or Sunday, I try to I only allow myself 45 minutes extra to sleep in. If I’m super tired in the morning, I tell myself I can take a nap in the afternoon (but usually never do.) It might seem counterproductive to force yourself to wake up in the mornings, but if you want a great nights sleep, night after night, then waking up at the same time every morning is key.
Be Careful About Napping: Another thing to watch out for when it comes to your sleep schedule is napping. Napping can have great benefits, but I’ve found napping usually just messes up my sleep schedule rather than improving it. I hardly ever take a nap, but if I do, I try to take it in the early afternoon and I nap for no more than 30 minutes. If I take a nap too late in the day or for too long, there isn’t a chance I’ll sleep at night.
Limit Caffeine: Don’t drink caffeine after lunch. This July, I actually decided to cut out caffeine altogether. I think it’s made a big difference with my sleep and I don’t get headaches anymore.
Write Your Problems Away: One of the main reasons I sometimes have a hard time sleeping is because of stress. My mind won’t stop racing. If you are feeling stressed or can’t seem to stop your mind from running 100 mph all night, then get out of bed, find a notepad and pencil, and write down every single thing you are thinking about. Keep writing until you think you’ve got everything down, then write a quick game plan on how you’ll tackle everything the next day. Once everything is written out, I always seem to be able to fall asleep.
Workout & Stay Active: Exercising regularly and staying active will help you sleep big time. Exercise helps relieve tension and stress. You don’t have to workout long to get the great benefits; I try working out at least 10 – 15 minutes a day. Sometimes I do really long intense workouts and other times I just look up a quick workout on youtube.
A Few Honorable Mentions: Take a soothing bath before bed or drink some herbal tea. Avoid eating super greasy foods before bed. If you can’t sleep at night get out of bed and do something for 10-20 minutes, then try sleeping again. Do progressive muscle relaxation. Use a sunrise simulator alarm clock (I use one and love it.) Make sure your bedroom is a relaxing environment and reserve it for just sleeping.
For the past three months or so I’ve applied these tips into my life to see if I could improve my sleep at all. I’ve seen a huge improvement. There have only been a few times since then that I’ve had a hard time falling asleep. For the most part, I’ve been able to fall asleep so much easier and stay asleep. I hope some of these tips can help you with your sleeping too.