Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Sixteen tips for getting good sleep.
There’s a lot of advice out there about getting good sleep — it’s VERY important. We quickly adjust to being sleep-deprived, and don’t notice that we aren’t functioning at a normal level, but lack of sleep really affects us. If you’re feeling blue or listless, try going to sleep thirty minutes earlier for a week. It can really help.
Here are tips that have helped me get good sleep:
Good habits for good sleep:
1. Exercise most days, even if it’s just to take a walk.
2. No caffeine after 7:00 p.m.
3. An hour before bedtime, avoid doing any kind of work that takes alert thinking. Addressing envelopes—okay. Analyzing an article—nope.
4. Adjust your bedroom temperature to be slightly chilly.
5. Keep your bedroom dark. Studies show that even the tiny light from a digital alarm clock can disrupt a sleep cycle. We have about six devices in our room that glow bright green; it’s like sleeping in a mad scientist’s lab. The Big Man has a new pet, a Roomba (yes, he loves his robot vacuum) that gives out so much light that I have to cover it with a pillow before bed.
6. Keep the bedroom as tidy as possible. It’s not restful to fight through chaos into bed.
If sleep won’t come:
7. Breathe deeply and slowly until you can’t stand it anymore.
8. If your mind is racing (you’re planning a trip, a move; you’re worried about a medical diagnosis), write down what’s on your mind. This technique really works for me.
9. Slather yourself with body lotion. This feels good and also, if you’re having trouble sleeping because you’re hot, it cools you down.
10. If your feet are cold, put on socks.
11. Stretch your whole body.
12. Have a warm drink. Supposedly warm milk contains melatonin and trytophan and so helps induce sleep, but in fact, a glass of milk doesn’t contain enough to have any effect. But it’s still a soothing drink. My nighttime favorite: 1/3 mug of milk, add boiling water, one packet of Equal, and a dash of vanilla. A real nursery treat.
14. Stretch your toes up and down several times.
15. Tell yourself, “I have to get up now.” Imagine that you just hit the snooze alarm and in a minute, you’re going to be marching through the morning routine. Often this is an exhausting enough prospect to make me fall asleep.
16. If you still can’t sleep, re-frame: re-frame your sleeplessness as a welcome opportunity to snatch some extra time out of your day. I get up and tackle mundane chores, like paying bills, organizing books, or tidying up. Then I start the day with a wonderful feeling of having accomplished something even before 6:45 am.
What am I missing? Are there some more great sleep-inducing strategies out there?
From 2006 through 2014, as she wrote The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, Gretchen chronicled her thoughts, observations, and discoveries on The Happiness Project Blog.