Today I went deep-sea diving in my inbox. You know, that dreaded moment where you scroll to the bottom and find out just how far behind you are? Yup. So I saw an email tagged “Action: Personal” that was a comment on my sleep study post asking me what tips the Doctor gave about sleeping well.
And so, because I’ve spent a lot of time this past year learning about sleep, I thought I’d fill you in. (A lot of these tips are probably not new to you, but maybe you’ll find something helpful!).
Random Thoughts About How To Have Improved Sleep:
1. Turn it off: Stop looking at your cell phone and laptop an hour before bed. Apparently, screens stimulate your brain and that makes it harder for you to sleep. (I’m told kindles and e-readers are an exception)
2. Sleep in peace: Have a clutter-free bedroom. Don’t do work in bed. It’s best if your brain can associate sleep with rest.
3. Calm down! Avoid caffeine and exercise within several hours of bedtime. I actually cut caffeine for months to see its effect on me. Today, I can’t drink caffeine within about 4 hours of bedtime.
4. Keep the room as dark as possible. We never used to close our curtains, but doing so really cut down on the light pollution!
5. Hide the clock. I’ve been told that seeing the clock when you roll over adds stress to your sleep. Some of us, however, can’t seem to part with giant red numbers.
6. Keep a sleep diary: If you’re having sleep difficulties, record the times that you sleep, hours slept, sleep quality, dreams, exercise, caffeine intake, etc. Knowing your sleep behaviours can help you and your Doctor achieve a diagnosis.
7. Avoid alcohol before bed: While this makes you drowsy, it gives poor sleep quality.
8. Get your blood checked: Low Iron and low Vitamin D can contribute to poor sleep. Have these checked out if you’re having sleep troubles.
9. Consider your partner: If your bed partner snores, flails, kicks, talks (in their sleep) or has other strange sleep behaviours, these may be disturbing your sleep.
10. Soothe yourself: Drinking warm milk, chamomile tea or eating a banana can calm you before bed. Candles, music or relaxing scents can also help you get to sleep more easily.
11. Stay awake: Daytime naps (especially longer than 20-30 minutes) can throw off your sleep schedule. Try to stay awake during the day and go to bed earlier!
12. Sleep more. Sleep earlier. My sleep Doctor was adamant that most adults require 8 hours of sleep. His advice was to find your required amount, and stick to it. If you can wake up consistently without an alarm clock, you’ve probably discovered how much sleep you need.
13. Consider investing: We bought a nicer mattress and pillow because, as my parents noted, you spend nearly 1/3 of your life in bed. Better to not wake up with neck and back aches.
Well, friends. I am by no means a sleep expert. These are just a few hints I’ve picked up along the sleep journey. If you’re interested in reading more, my Doctor recommended this book, Sleep: A Groundbreaking Guide to the Mysteries, the Problems, and the Solutions.
And, just in case you can’t sleep tonight and need a good laugh. Break the rule, turn on your laptop and check out this hilarious mash-up of the Downton Abbey cast ‘singing’ One Direction.
What about you? What tips and tricks have you found improve your sleep? Do any of these not work for you?