Most adults need between 7-7.5 hours of sleep per night. This varies from person to person, of course, but it’s a good number to shoot for: let’s call it The Solid Seven. It’s backed up by research—but you probably know from personal experience the truth of it. When you go consecutive days without a Solid Seven, things tend to go downhill.
Here’s a collection of actions you can take to get the sleep you—and your hormones—need:
- Change the way you think of your bedroom: in your mind, call it the sleeproom. If it helps to call it that when you talk about it, then do that, too. Your family might think you’re silly when you say things like “I left my wallet in the sleeproom,” but then again, it might be fun.
- Use the sleeproom for sleeping only—and intimacy, of course. Do things like reading, watching TV, working, or playing games in other rooms.
- At risk of repeating ourselves: avoid reading, writing, working, watching TV, surfing the web on your laptop or tablet, playing games, or talking on the phone while you’re in the sleeproom.
- Keep the sleeproom quiet and cool. Turn down the heat and keep an extra blanket on hand if you know you’re a cold sleeper.
- Keep the sleeproom as dark as possible. This will stimulate the release of melatonin so you’re mind tells your body it’s time to sleep. Use blackout shades to keep out ambient light from streetlights, your neighbors outdoor security lights, or light from signage if you live in a big city.
- Make your bed comfortable. If you sleep with a partner and a queen size bed is not large enough for the two of you, consider investing in a king-sized bed.
- Wake up at the same time every day—even on weekends and holidays. Keeping a regular schedule will help normalize your circadian rhythms and keep your hormones balanced.
- Avoid naps after 3 pm.
- Avoid caffeine after lunch.
- Avoid alcohol within 4-6 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid cigarettes or anything containing nicotine before bedtime.
- Exercise regularly, but avoid strenuous workouts 4-6 hours before bedtime.
- If you sweat during the night, air out your bedding in the morning so it’s fresh and clean when you go to bed.
- Begin turning off unnecessary lights in your home well before bedtime. Mirror your transition from light to dark as closely as you can to the natural cycle of sunrise and sunset. If you continuously expose yourself to electric lights, you can trick your brain—and therefore your body and hormones—that it’s still daytime.
- Shut off all your electronics about half an hour before you head for your sleeproom. This includes television, smartphones, laptops, tablets, and games. This will give your mind time to calm down from the electronic stimulation it receives all day long.
- Create rituals you can do every night. These can be anything from bathing, to a light snack, to mindful meditation exercises, to reading—but don’t do these things in your sleeproom.
- If you’re not sleepy, don’t get in bed. Do something to relax and wait until your body and mind to be ready—otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure.
- Don’t go to bed hungry, but don’t a huge meal too close to bedtime. Try light snack that includes a few grams of protein.
- Try to avoid sleeping pills. If you use them, or feel the need to use them on a regular basis, consult with a sleep professional.
- Do your best to go to bed with a clear mind. Worry and anxiety can keep you up. Consider using a journal to write things down before you go to your sleeproom. That way you know you’ve done everything you can do for the night, and you can get back to adulting in the morning.
- Use ear plugs to dull unwanted noise if you have roommates, family members, or live in a large city.
- If you don’t fall asleep within twenty minutes of getting in bed, get up and do something until you feel relaxed enough to try again. Starting into the dark for too long tends to add to stress, until you’re stressing about stressing about stress.
One Sleep at a Time
You may not be able to change all of your habits at once, but don’t worry. Start with the things you know you can do, like keeping your laptop out of your sleeproom, starting your wind-down rituals about half an hour before bed, and avoiding things like strenuous workouts and alcohol in the hours before bed. Build your sleep hygiene step-wise and you’re more likely to have success than if you try to do it al at once.
Be kind to yourself. Be easy. Sweet Dreams!
As we have mentioned before, these tips can provide you with a short-term solution that can help you fall asleep but if you are suffering from pro-longed bouts of insomnia there is likely something much deeper going on. We have discovered a wonderful technique that can help to heal deeper rooted issues that may be causing your insomnia and once you have mastered it, you will be able to fall asleep in 15 minutes or less each and every night.
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