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The odds are that most of you reading this blog do not get proper sleep every night. Over 60% of the population get less adequate sleep than required. Over 35% are affected in their daily activities due to feeling drowsy. More than 50% of us have suffered from insomnia at some point in our life. I was definitely one such person. I have battled insomnia for most of my life, so I wanted to share some of the methods that I have implemented in my own life and have given me really good results to finally overcome this issue. If you apply this list to your life, I am certain that you will witness great results…it worked for me, and trust me, I was a notorious insomniac! Here we go:
Rule #1: Your bedroom is to sleep only
Don’t do other activities in your room except sleep (ok, sex gets a pass!). But seriously, do not eat on your bed or surf the web or watch tv on your bed. You need to associate the particular area where you sleep with sleep. Associating it with anything else is just going to confuse you, and by that, I mean that you will be tempted to watch tv or surf the web instead of sleeping if you keep doing those activities in your bed. I’ve just realized that I still have a TV in my bedroom, but I haven’t used it in over a year. I forgot it was even there! That’s because I’ve associated sleep with my room and I just can’t watch TV in there anymore, it just doesn’t seem “right”.
Rule #2: No food 2-3 hrs before bedtime
Eating too close to your bedtime is just going to either give you indigestion, make you gain weight, or give you poor sleep with nightmares. I usually eat some fruits and drink a glass of milk a couple of hours before I fall asleep. If you have the habit of eating large meals late in the evening, try to eat a consistent supper and snack a few items every hour or so in the evening. Preferably, your snacks should be healthy like fruits and vegetables. There is no point in going to bed full, a snack is enough to calm your hunger. Plus, you will wake up with an appetite for a good solid breakfast, which is a good thing.
Rule #3: No stimulants
By that, I mean such things as coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, or energy drinks. Learn to avoid such things, especially in the evening, and ideally, altogether. Other stimulants would be things like television and the computer. Try to stay away from “screens” a few hours before you sleep. They tend to keep us alert and delay our desire to just sleep. I have to be on the computer a lot, mainly to run my company where it is crucial for me to stay connected online, but I still close everything and read a book before I go to bed.
Rule #4: Drink water
A trick I learned a long time ago, was that by drinking water before sleep, you remember your dreams more vividly. As well, you tend to experience happier dreams and less confusing ones or nightmares. When you wake up in the morning, you should drink some water rather quickly to hydrate your body, which helps waking up, so I always keep a glass of water near my bed, from which I drink a little before going to sleep. I find a little water helps into experiencing a better night of sleep overall.
Rule #5: Clean air in your room
Since you are spending many hours in that room breathing in and out throughout the night, it is important to make sure that the air you breathe in is clean. So you should always keep your room very tidy. Always get rid of dust on a consistent basis and even leaving the window a little open at night will help with the ventilation. This will definitely help in having a more enjoyable sleep.
Rule #6: Leave your problems at your bedroom door
By the time you are going to bed, your day is over. What happened, happened. There is no point in dwelling on whatever didn’t go as planned. Don’t keep torturing yourself and put that day in your past along with all other previous days. Being in charge of a company, I have had many reasons to go to bed with lots of questions and worry, but I have chosen to do the opposite. Even if I spend hours wrapped up in these thoughts, I can’t change what has already happened, so I have learned not to be too concerned about the past, even a few hours ago. Doing this has definitely helped me sleep better and more easily.
Rule #7: Prepare for tomorrow
With the past behind me and out of the way, it’s not a bad idea to prepare for the day ahead. I usually have a to-do list that I keep on my bedside table, that I glance at before I prepare for sleep. Moderation is key here as well. You don’t want to think too much about tomorrow. Just being aware of what to expect is enough. There is no point in spending your entire night thinking about what you will do the next day, only to find yourself too tired to do any of it (this happened to me quite often!). It’s important to at least know where you are heading so it’s a good idea to look at your goals, but no dwelling. Going to bed with a clear conscious is extremely crucial to having a good night of sleep.
Rule #8: Sleep only when you are actually tired
For a long time, as I was battling insomnia, I would try to go to bed at a specific time. It would never work! I would be in bed, not completely tired, left to my own thoughts, which would drive me crazy, as it would take me forever to sleep. I have learned that you do not need the same number of hours of sleep each and every night. For example, last night I was tired at 2am only, and I woke up at 6am. It’s mid afternoon now and I am fully awake, haven’t been drowsy so far. Tonight I may go to sleep earlier, depending on how much sleep my body needs. Listening to your body is key. It will tell you when you should go to bed. This is why I found that sleeping from let’s say 10pm to 6am every single day just does not work. I sleep when I want to now, which was a huge hurdle in overcoming insomnia. Plus, I hate routine, I couldn’t follow a schedule to be in bed at the same time every day! I don’t know when I will sleep, only thing I know is that I will sleep when I am tired, and trust me, that’s good enough!
Rule #9: Sleep in complete silence
It is really important that when you are sleeping, there should be no noise whatsoever. No buzzing of computer or appliances, no ticking of clocks, no cellphone etc. The quieter it is, the better quality of sleep you will experience. I should point out that it is ok to listen to a relaxation course for example. Just do not put it on repeat for the whole night. I like listening to ocean sounds and relaxing meditative courses as I go to sleep. I program it to turn itself off after 30 min. I’m usually fully asleep before it goes off. I think it’s very soothing and it gives you something to focus on and listen to instead of listening to your own thoughts in your head about what happened during your day!
Rule #10: Sleep in total darkness
I have definitely noticed a massive improvement in the quality of my sleep ever since I have slept in complete darkness. I do not have an alarm clock, there is no light from any electronics whatsoever. I shut off the curtains fully, and close the door and it’s great. You see, any light, even something as tiny as the green light on your alarm clock is still a stimulus, which will do the opposite than to make you sleepier. Night lights should not be used either. If you have a fear of the dark (it is quite common) and you absolutely feel like you need some sort of light to sleep, I would suggest seeking out some professional help to conquer it, especially if you suffer from insomnia. Darkness is a must if you want to sleep better.
So these are my tips that have really made a significant difference in my sleeping habits. I feel that if they made a difference in my life, it can definitely do anyone else as much good. I must also stress that I also think that exercise has helped me a lot, in that I do not go to bed with tons of built in energy inside anymore. However try to exercise during the day, and not too close to your bedtime if you do so in the evening.
I hope this list helps anyone reading it from overcoming any sleeping issues. You shouldn’t rely on pills, there is so much that you can do yourself as you can see from the list above, which is all perfectly doable and free. Also, if you need any help when you wake up, you might want to read 7 Ways To Wake Up Motivated! Good luck!