The secret to good health, wealth, happiness and success is in your bedroom. It’s that big thing taking up most the room called a bed. Develop a Sleep Plan, use it nightly and you will be amazed at the results.
WHY WE HAVE TROUBLE FALLING ASLEEP
Stress is the number one cause of short-term sleeping difficulties, according to sleep experts. Common triggers include school- or job-related pressures, a family or marriage problem and a serious illness or death in the family. Usually the sleep problem disappears when the stressful situation passes. However, if short-term sleep problems such as insomnia aren’t managed properly from the beginning, they can persist long after the original stress has passed. Take what ever means necessary to limit stress in your life.
HOW TO FALL ASLEEP
Sleep research has shown these are the BEST methods for how to fall asleep at night.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (or as close as possible).
- Limit caffeine. Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and limit daytime use. (Stay calm and put the soda down.)
- Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep (how many of us think a glass of wine before bed helps us sleep? Well, it may sometimes help you fall asleep, but you won’t feel rested when you wake)
- Get regular exercise (this is just good for everything)
- Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and comfortable.
- Develop a regular bed time and go to bed at the same time each night
- Try and wake up without an alarm clock (is this really possible?)
- Attempt to go to bed earlier every night for certain period; this will ensure that you’re getting enough sleep
- My “research” has shown that an effective way for me to fall asleep is by using Andrew Johnson’s deep sleep hypnosis. (Seriously, ya’ll. It sounds corny as hell, but it really works. Took about a week, but now I doze off in just a few moments after I start listening to his sexy Scottish accent.)
DEVELOP A BEDTIME ROUTINE
Developing a bedtime routine is critical for maximizing your success at falling asleep. Set a “prepare for bed” time. It can be 15 – 30 minutes before you actually crawl in bed to go to sleep. Your bed is where you sleep (and have “relations”) that’s it. Train your body that it is about to go to sleep by doing the same things every night before you crawl between the sheets.
BEDTIME ROUTINE DO’S
- Make your bed comfortable, cozy and inviting.
- Use lavender/chamomile aromatherapy (pillow spray, essential oils, etc.)
- Drink a cup of Sleepy Time or organic chamomile tea before bed.
- Take a warm, relaxing bath
- Turn your brain “off”. We know stress keeps us up. Once you start your bedtime routine, your mind should be clear of those things.
- Start preparing for bed the same time every night.
- Wear socks to bed.
- Don’t worry about “relations” interfering with sleep, that isn’t a problem for most of us. In fact, sex is a great way to ensure you’ll fall asleep and get a good nights rest.
- Set up an area in your bedroom, like a comfortable chair in the corner where you can read, journal or listen to soothing music before bed.
- Complete all your daily activities before starting your bedtime routine.
BEDTIME ROUTINE DON’TS
Only sleep and have sex in your bed. You wouldn’t nap on the kitchen table, well don’t do other activities in bed either. You are there to sleep. That’s it. Train your brain that sleep is the only thing on the agenda when you crawl into bed and you’ll fall asleep much faster.
- Do not read in bed.
- Do not check email, use your laptop, play on your phone, text, make calls, use your iPad or watch TV in bed. None of these are part of your bedtime routine. Those are all part of your daily activities. Do those things before you start your bedtime routine. (notice “daily activities” – as in active. Being active is the last thing you want to do before bed).
- Do not journal or write in bed. (this can be part of y our bedtime routine, just do it somewhere else)
- Do not eat in bed.
- Do not watch TV in bed. Did I list this one twice? Watching TV is an activity (and I totally call B.S. on everyone of you who says you have to have a TV on in order to fall asleep, it will take some adjusting, but you can fall asleep without one and you’ll sleep better for it).
TRACK YOUR SLEEP
Knowing how much sleep you are getting so you can start to get out of your “sleep debt” is important. You can write down the time you went to bed and woke up on a note pad and just do the math. If you are lazy, like I am, you can use the app Sleep Cycle. It not only tracks when you fall asleep, but tracks your sleep cycles, and your nightly and total average sleep time. My favorite thing about this app is that you can use it as an alarm. It will wake you when you are in the lightest part of your sleep cycle so that you aren’t so groggy when you open your eyes. I have a back-up alarm set as well, but I find this method very effective.
EFFECTIVE SLEEP PLAN
- Finish your daily activities before you start your bedtime routine.
- Start your bedtime routine at the same time every night.
- Do the same things every night to prepare your mind/body for sleep. (This is our bedtime routine)
- Go to bed at the same time every night. This is when we actually crawl between the sheets.
- Only sleep in bed. (the only exception to this is if you are using sleep hypnosis to fall asleep, then you can listen to that)
- Wake up at the same time every morning.
- Track your sleep and try to get 8 – 10 hours each night.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP
You can get a full overview on the importance of sleep from The American Psychological Association. But we all know sleep is essential for a person’s health and well-being as the the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) likes to remind us. More than 40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each month. According to psychologist and sleep expert David F. Dinges, Ph.D., of the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology and Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, (how’s that for a title?) irritability, moodiness and dis-inhibition are some of the first signs a person experiences from lack of sleep. If a sleep-deprived person doesn’t sleep after the initial signs of needing rest, said Dinges, the person may then start to experience apathy, slowed speech and flattened emotional responses, impaired memory and an inability to be novel or multitask. Did you get that folks? The part about lack of sleep causing impaired memory, the inability to be innovative and multitask?
The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:
- Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
- Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
- Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
- Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
- Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
- Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
Those are the good folks at Harvard – I think they know what they are talking about.
Bottom line, is that if we are going to be successful about anything, our health, our goals, our families, our relationships, we need excellent, quality sleep to be the foundation of our mind and body. Take a moment and outline your bedtime routine or sleep plan, stick to it and sweet dreams!