Like many people this year, I read Arianna Huffington’s book, The Sleep Revolution. I read it partially because I knew that I would have many hours in airports that month, and what better thing to do at an airport than get lost in a book? I also read it because sleep is one of my great passions. I have no shame in retiring to bed before 10pm. I am a pretty nice person, but I am not so sweet when someone has the audacity to interrupt my vivid dreams. How am I supposed to know the ending?
Even with my ability to fall and stay asleep, there was still some things that I could do about my sleep hygiene. We are in the self-improvement revolution as well as the sleep revolution. While the cool kids were midnight owls, now there is as much coolness in the morning people. (Even if this isn’t true, I’m not giving up my early bedtime!)
Getting sleep the natural way is a cornerstone of health. It may even be the most important thing you do for your emotional and physical health. As the glamour of sleep deprivation fades, we must commit to getting our zzz’s. These five tips may make it easier than ever. Unofficial step one: encourage your boss to install a “nap room” at work. Yes, they are a thing.
1. Be a Creature of Habit
Arianna often refers to the fact that you would never put a child to bed just by saying “Goodnight, see you tomorrow!” There are rituals, from pajamas to stories and these rituals can help little eyelids to get heavy. As adults, we may be different in many ways, but we are still not equipped to fall asleep immediately after being on the Internet or drinking mugs of tea in our work clothes. Time to bring back Goodnight Moon. If you’re stuck for a relaxing ritual, do some yoga while listening to this ultimate yoga playlist.
2. Ditch the Technology
I know this and I have read this, yet I still sometimes read by the light of my iPad so as not to disturb my partner, when I should really invest in a reading light. Humans display a peak sensitivity to light in the blue spectrum. Our devices might be highly entertaining, but they also can suppress melatonin. Best to pick a cut-off time.
3. Know What You Need
Watch your behavior on differing levels of sleep. This can be an exercise in mindfulness in itself. Although many people swear they can get away with less than 7 hours, they may find that they are more willing to give into their cravings or start arguments the day after. Watch your behavior and notice which number of hours brings out the clearest thinking, truest form of yourself.
4. Make Your Bed a Sleeping Paradise
For me it’s as simple as doing the bed in the morning. Returning to a clean looking bed is my first step on the route to relaxation (thanks, Mom). For other people, it may be soy candles or funky throw pillows or a pile of awesome books. (Or earplugs if they have a partner that likes to sleep loudly.) Make that bed beckon sleep by being limited to calming activities. Laptops are not allowed to this party.
5. Let Your Day Wear You Out
Intellectually and physically, we have a reserve that our body wishes to burn while we are in our waking hours. If you have sat at a desk all day without much movement, chances are that your body or mind will be restless come nighttime. Build movement into your day, even if you don’t get the chance for a workout. Walk to get lunch, if you can. Run to work if there are showers there. Stretch while you watch TV or install a treadmill by the TV to associate your shows with exercise. Little bits add up, and will possibly make it easier to sleep at night.
All this talk about sleep has me excited. Excuse me while I don my silk sleep mask and take a short catnap.