We’ve all been there I’m sure, those restless nights where you just can’t for the life of you get to sleep.
You lie there, tossing and turning trying your best to find the position which is going to lull you into a sweet dream. But, 15 minutes pass and you’re still awake, then an hour passes and you’ve gone into calculator mode “if I sleep now I have 6 hours rest, that’s enough I’m sure”. But this doesn’t help because now you’re feeling pressured to get asleep, which can be counter intuitive. We can lie there in this terrible limbo from anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours or more.
But don’t worry! By the end of this blog you’re going to be armed with the tools you need to get to sleep early and master your routine. We’ll cover 8 areas which you can look to adopt, it doesn’t have to be all of them (although if it was I’m sure you’d be a sleep master) but armed with some you’ll be ready to fall deeply into the pillow
What we’ll cover
- The Power OF Habit, our greatest tool
- Exercise, how to use it to your advantage
- The Devil In Our Hand, mobile phone & screens
- Your Sleep Environment, strictly sex and sleep
- Your Diet, how it can affect your routine
- Mindfulness Practice, finding zen and zzz
- 4-7-8 Technique, it’s a bit more sophisticated than counting sheep
- Natural remedies for your sleep routine, nature’s wonders
The Power OF Habit, our greatest tool.
This is first because it’s one of the most important things in life, not just our sleep cycles. Most of our daily tasks are habitual and don’t need to be thought of, like brushing our teeth, for example, it’s hardwired into our brain. We do it without thinking about the process. When our brain creates, or acts on, a habit it sets the tone for everything else which is to come after, in an instinctive fashion.
So we can use this to maximise our rest, by creating a sleep routine. Something you can commit to each night, based off of the points mentioned in this blog. This will help prepare your mind for the sleep which is coming. And your mind when triggered by starting your routine, will adapt and move into sleep mode. This will take effort for the first couple of weeks, but as soon as this routine becomes a habit for you, your sleep will benefit greatly
Exercise, how to use it to your advantage
Another important area, which I’m sure is a habit for most of our community, is exercise. Whatever that may be for your chosen discipline. Exercise is a powerful tool for using our body’s energy surplus and working through any of our mind’s worries/problems. And you would assume that exercise will always make you tired and get your body and mind ready for sleep, because it costs energy and less energy means sleep right ?
Well that is the case, but there is one thing that you must remember. When we exercise, cortisol and adrenaline are released into our body, like stimulants they can keep us awake or alert. So to truly get the benefits of exercise for your sleep routine, you need to make sure you’re training earlier in the day. We would suggest, if possible, that you train at least 5-6 hours before you plan on sleeping. This will give your body enough time for the stimulus to pass and then feel tired for the work your body done that day.
Now onto a problem I know 97% of us all have.
The Divil In Our Hand
This one may not come as a surprise to you, but we might be able to shed light (shneaky pun intended) on why your phone (& any screen) keeps you up. Bluelight, which is emitted from screens, royaley messes with our internal clock. When we’re going to sleep melatonin starts to build up in our bodies, this happens every evening as the sun goes down and the moon comes out. The darkness sets into effect our internal chemical clock that lets us know “sleep timmmmmme” and starts preparing the body.
Bluelight however, stops that process from happening, as bluelight is emitted from the sun during the day which tells our body “get up and lets do some shit”. So when we’re netflix binging or mindlessly scrolling through our phone we’re tricking our brain into thinking it’s daytime essentially. This messes with our internal clock and drags us later and later into the night with the “I’m not tired, just one more episode/scroll” feeling.
So stop looking at any digital screens (phone, tv, laptop), or sitting under LED lights for at least one hour before bedtime and allow your natural body processes take effect and help you get to sleep.
Your Sleep Environment
The setting of your sleep is vitally important and so many things within the environment can cause disruption to our sleep cycle. Loud noise, too much light, too hot etc.. are things which you need to look at when you’re wanting to address your sleep cycle issues. Simple things like a night shade to cover your eyes and keeping the room cool are good tricks to block out any unwanted disturbances.
As well as the above, you also want to be making sure you’re only using your bed for two things, well maybe three. The jiggy-jiggy (sex) and sleep, but some light reading is good here too. If you work from bed, look on your phone in bed, watch movies in bed (we all do this from time to time, but don’t make a bad habit of it) or think deeply about things in bed. Well then your palace of rest and pleasure becomes a lot more crowded with other tasks. which will confuse your brains habit loop and sleep routine.
Don’t let yourself fall in to this trap, set places in your house for specific tasks and don’t let anything like work or phone time interfere with the finer things in life like sleep and sex.
This isn’t a nutritional post so we won’t dig too deep on what you consume each day, but rather the time you consume certain things. It’s nearly common sense, I’m sure, not to consume sugar before bed. But it goes beyond sugar too, fats and carbs are our bodies sources of energy. So if we heap a load of it in before bed, it’s essentially like putting petrol on a fire.
Just like training, you want to be making sure you’re consuming food a good while before you sleep or else it could affect your sleep cycle. Stopping intake of high energy/sugar foods at minimum 3 hours before bed would be a good starting point for this.
Mindfulness Practice, Finding Zen and ZZZ
Sometimes what keeps us up at night are the bajillion (it’s actually a word, amazing) thoughts that we have going around our head like a never ending carousel. It could be some random shite, something about our work tomorrow, our past or absolutely anything, that keeps us awake. So it’s vital we address these thoughts or concerns before we go to bed. There’s a number of things you can try. For instance if your worried about work or something tomorrow you can write out a to-do list before bed to ease the stresses of that on your mind.
Or if you’re dealing with some emotions or random thoughts. Spending 10 minutes before you sleep dedicated to meditation will help relieve your mind of those thoughts and help get you in a relaxed mindset for sleep. Keeping a journal too and writing about your thoughts and feelings before you sleep are a good way to clear that energy from your body.
Whichever you choose, there is many benefits to these techniques even beyond sleep. So dedicating 10 minutes of time toward them will be really rewarding for your rest and general mood.
4-7-8 Technique, it’s a bit more sophisticated than counting sheep.
This is a breathing technique for when you’re in bed. It could nearly fall under the meditation/mindfulness section but it’s best if they were done before bed. Whereas this is specific to being in bed. This technique is said to help people “fall asleep within one minute”, I can vouch against that as it took like 8 minutes for me, but it works eventually.
This slows down your breathing and relaxes you by filling your blood with oxygen. Focusing on the counting also keeps the mind preoccupied and off the bajillion thoughts, thus helping you get to snooze town quicker. Give it a try, you may fall off the proverbial wagon at the beginning, and forget your counting, like most meditations, but you’ll get better and better. With practice this technique over time will take less effort to help you sleep.
Beyond These Practices There Are The Natural Remedies
- CBD – will help relax the mind before bed and quiet down the chitter chatter of the brain. And while you’re asleep it will reduce the anxious phase of sleep, where we’re most likely to toss and turn, wake up or have bad dreams. Meaning your sleep can be fuller and give you more energy for the next day
- Chamomile Tea – We love it, drink it every night. Make it apart of your sleep routine. The warm brew alone helps relax you for sleep but chamomile specifically promotes better and quicker sleep so it’s good to incorporate this into your routine. (Don’t use normal tea: that has caffeine)
- Lavender – Use some fresh lavender if you have it in a net placed in your pillow case, or some essential oils by rubbing into your skin, pillow, diffuser or candle (but be careful with falling asleep to a naked flame)
If you incorporate some of these routines into your sleep, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how they’re working out for you.