Sleep. Those glorious 6-8 hours when we get to return to the source. When properly prepared for, sleep can be the most re-energizing, invigorating activity we participate in. A good sleep can lead to increased productivity, better mood, and has many physical health benefits as well! It is a daily necessity for the human being.
Today I am going to outline exactly how to help yourself sleep guaranteed. I suffered from insomnia for many years before discovering these few simple hacks to get to sleep faster, have it be more rest full, and of an overall higher general quality.
Unfortunately these steps will only work when implemented with foresight and repetition. Do not underestimate the extent to which we are creatures of habit. Build an easy to follow to routine for yourself and the rest will fall in line.
Earn Your Sleep
I would be willing to bet that the most likely reason you are struggling to get to sleep is that you haven’t put the work in that day to EARN it. An easy, restful slumber is the reward bestowed upon our body for using it to its full energetic potential on any given day.
You know this to be true. Next time you get home at the end of the day, instead of immediately sitting down in front of a screen to become a mindless vegetable, spend 45-60 minutes participating in intense exercise. Heck, you could even have the TV going while you do this if you need to! (I personally prefer listening to an informative podcast.)
Don’t make excuses for yourself either! The gym being closed, or not having any equipment doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish an exhaustive workout. If you have two legs, running alone can get you into that “spent” state. Not to mention the plethora of body weight exercises at your disposal. Find a routine that is engaging and works for you and your fitness level, and GET IT DONE.
The key is to push yourself to exhaustion. When the body is exhausted, it is out of energy. No energy means it has to recharge through the regular avenues; food, water, sleep.
You must also try to expend all your excess mental energy. I have found reading for 30-60 minutes before bed or doing a pen and paper sudoku, crossword, or jigsaw puzzle helps tremendously. I know these seem like “boomer” activities but when I look around it seems like most of these old folks have the whole sleeping thing down. Don’t knock it till you try it.
If you have pushed yourself to both mental and physical exhaustion, your body will be sleep before you even feel the pillow touch your head.
I will repeat: we are creatures of habit. The routine behaviors and rituals we participate in, whether consciously or unconsciously, are the driving force behind much of our life. Once we are well-established in our habits and routines it can be difficult, if not near impossible to break them. Rebuilding habits however, can be achieved by anyone willing to put in the effort.
A couple of the most important habits related to getting a better sleep include your bedtime & your wake up time. These are 2 things that are easiest to change. If you have already gone through the steps of earning your sleep, adhering to the time to be in bed will be the only roadblock to making sure you get enough sleep at night.
To calculate your ideal bedtime, work backwards from the time you want to wake up according to how much sleep your body needs. I recommend starting with 8 and a half hours and tweaking from there. The Worst case scenario is you end up waking up earlier than expected and have a more productive morning. For example, if you wanted to be awake at 5am you would aim to be crawling into bed around 8:30pm.
If you struggle with waking up on time… go to bed earlier! That is the most obvious solution. But if by circumstance you are unable to go to bed earlier, do whatever it takes to make sure you get out of bed the following morning. Tricks I’ve used in the past include: setting an obscene amount of alarms in close intervals, telling my significant other to also set an obscene amount of alarms and rip the blankets off me when they go off, as well as drinking lots of water before bed so the urge to pee would wake me up. Get creative!
The key to ensuring your sleep is also of high quality and not just long duration is to have a healthy lifestyle. Some people claim that using certain drugs or alcohol helps them get to sleep. While this may seem anecdotally true, it becomes a crutch and over time can develop into a serious substance abuse issue. Not to mention it is used as an aid to just fall asleep, and in reality causes your sleep to be less restful.
Try to avoid all substances if you are having serious trouble sleeping. That includes nicotine, caffeine, as well as large amounts of refined sugar. Giving up, or at least reducing your intake of things like cigarettes, coffee and soda will not only help your sleep life but also have additional benefits for your physical health.
Here is a quick recap for you:
- Earn you sleep – make sure to put the work in daily and push yourself to mental & physical exaustion
- Set your bedtime & wake up time – Give your body adequate time to rest and do what ever to takes and make these nonnegotiable!
- Have a nighttime ritual – Give yourself a nightly routine to let your body know it is time to start winding down
- Avoid all substances – For a more restful sleep, give up or cut back on things like alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, and soda
Let me know some of the ways you push yourself to both mental and physical exhaustion below! Rest easy my friends!