I am a life long insomniac. I have always had a difficult time falling asleep and I wake up early. Fortunately, I have learned several techniques over the past few years that make sleep effortless. So if you have problems sleeping, hopefully this information will help you out.
Circadian Rhythm and Habit
The most important thing to understand about sleep is that it’s totally governed by your circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are twenty four hour cycles that a variety of bodily systems use to carry out their functions. All these rhythm sync up with your brain’s master clock. Keeping the rhythm in sync is the key to sleep.
You set your circadian rhythm through habit. It might take a few weeks, but consistently building a sleep-time habits will set your your circadian rhythm and you’ll more easily achieve a proper sleep-wake cycle.
I’m going to assume for this video that you have a regular nine to five job. If you work the graveyard shift, then just adapt the times appropriately.
Go to Bed at the Same Time
Pick a time between ten and eleven o’clock and go to bed a the the same time every day. Don’t wait to be tired. Get to bed at a set time. You’ll never be able to set your circadian rhythm if you have erratic bedtimes.
Wake Up at The Same Time
Set your alarm for the same time every day and get out of bed when the alarm goes off. Never hit snooze. Never lay in bed to rest your eyes. Get up. If you have to, put your alarm across the room, that will force you to get out of bed to turn it off.
The earlier you can wake up, the better. Unless you’re sick, anything more than eight hours of sleep will be counter productive because it’ll throw your circadian rhythm off.
Don’t eat after seven o’clock
Digestion is a long process that takes a lot of energy, this can be very disruptive to sleep. That’s why you shouldn’t have anything to eat after seven o’clock. This is particularly true of sugary foods. You don’t want to be eating chips or ice cream while watch TV just before you go to bed. Give your body plenty of time to digest and prepare for rest.
Don’t Drink anything after nine o’clock
Same is true for drinks. Avoid anything sugary after seven, but completely cut off liquids by nine o’clock, even water. That will keep you from having to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and interrupting your sleep.
Begin a wind-down ritual a half hour before bed
About a half hour before you go to bed, begin a wind-down ritual. Turn off the TV and do something easy like read a little or straightening up the house. Maybe mediate or just sit and listen to music. After that wash your face, brush your teeth turn out the light and go to bed.
Write Down the things on your mind
One great thing you can do as part of your wind-down is journal about your day. Write down what happened, what your learned and what you will continue to do, stop doing or start doing. If you find yourself anxious, worrying about what will happen tomorrow, then take this time to write down all of the things that are bothering you. By getting them down on paper, you actually remove them from you mind and they will stop bothering you.
This is a great trick for any time you can’t get your mind off of something. If your thoughts keep coming back to the same thing, get up and write it down as detailed as you can. Get if out of your head and on to paper.
Do a body scan
As you lay in bed, use a meditation technique called a body scan. A Body scan can takes five minutes or it can take an hour. There is not right or wrong way to do it.
It goes likes this…
With your eyes closed, lay in bed under you covers, all the light out, your day done and you totally ready and committed to sleep. Without moving, think about your hands. Put all your focus into your hands. What do you feel? Concentrate only on your hands and feel the air on them, the blood running though them.
Then think about your wrists. Put all your concentration in your wrists. What do you feel?
Do this for your entire body, up your arms, into your chest, your shoulder, head and then down to your torso, legs, knees, calves and feet. Pause and focus all your attention on these areas one by one. Slowly. Very, very slowly.
When your done, if you’re still awake. Start back at your hands and do it all again slower.
Your body is very sensitive to your environment, even though you may not realize it. Things that you don’t perceive on a conscious level can deeply affect your circadian rhythm. So it pays to optimize the environment for sleep.
Make the room Cool
First, make the room nice and cool. You’ll sleep better in a cool room with blankets pilled up than a warm room that causes you to sweat.
Make the room Quiet
Next make the room quite. Close all the doors and windows and turn off all electronics. If there are still sporadic noises like dogs in the neighborhood or traffic, then get a white noise machine, but only turn it up enough to blunt the distracting noises.
Make the room Dark
Finally and most important of all, make the room as dark as possible. Ideally the room should be pitch black, so that you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. Use blackout shades on your windows if street lights are coming through. If you have any electronics with lights, cover them with black tape. This is especially true if the lights are blue. If your alarm clock has a blue or green light display, replace it with one that is red. Any light other than red light can drastically affect your body, especially blue lights. Light is the primary cue our body uses to know when it’s morning, so eliminating it is a must.
If you can sleep get up
After you’ve taken all off these steps and optimized your room, if you still can’t sleep, then get up. Read, do a puzzle, journal, doodle. Do something to occupy your mind but not something that is too engaging. Just stay away from any electronics. Don’t watch TV or scroll through social media.
After you’ve been up an hour or so, try going back to sleep again. Be sure not to sleep past your regular time in the morning, even if you get much less sleep. Always wake up at the same time. If you only get a few hours of sleep, that’ll make tomorrow night’s sleep a lot easier.
If you wake early get up
And if you do wake up early and can’t get back to sleep, just go ahead and get up. Even if it’s hours before your regular wake up time, get up and get your day started. You’ll sleep a lot better the next night.
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