Most people have experienced insomnia or troubled sleep at some point in their lives. Many still struggle in this area of their lives. I have personally battled with this myself since childhood but have been able to pretty much annihilate this issue completely about 2 years ago. In today’s article, I will share with you the most important sleep hygiene rules, my method of falling asleep, and some other tips, which together should really help you get the good night’s sleep you crave and deserve!
Waking up at the same time every day (The Golden Rule)
The most important rule to consistently getting a good night’s sleep is to wake up at the same time every day. It sounds simple, and it is indeed simple, but it has a profound impact. The reasoning behind it is simple and relates to your circadian rhythm, which is the 24-hour internal clock running in the background of your brain and alternates between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.
Waking up at the same time every day is the most important factor to keeping your circadian rhythm on track, which then leads to you feeling sleepy and alert at regular intervals every day. When you wake up at different times every day, you “confuse” your rhythm and confuse your bodies, resulting in you potentially feeling alert or sleepy at a wrong or inconvenient time. Jet lag is another example of a circadian rhythm getting messed up.
Going to bed at the same time every day
This is also quite important for keeping your circadian rhythm in check. It’s great if you can keep this up most of the time, but at the end of the day, we are humans… Some days we want to stay out and party, and other days we just want to stay up for no reason in particular. That’s fine as along as you stick to the golden rule and wake up at the same time every day.
Only go to sleep when you are feeling tired
This is also of high importance. It’s very simple. Don’t go to sleep unless you are actually tired and sleepy. Even if it’s past your bedtime or when you would have liked to go to sleep, if you aren’t tired and sleepy yet, don’t go to bed. It might work occasionally, but going to bed when you are not tired at all will most likely lead to you tossing and turning in bed without falling asleep.
Don’t stay in bed if you are feeling anxious/stressed
It’s fine if you just lay in bed for a whole hour without falling asleep, as long as you are actually tired, sleepy, and relaxed. When you find out you are getting anxious or stressed in bed, then it’s better if you change rooms for a short amount of time. For example, when you find yourself in the situation described above, it’s advisable that you leave your bedroom and go to the living room. Then you can read a book, watch something, or meditate until you are feeling tired and relaxed again, at which point you can go to your bed again.
No caffeine after 2pm
This one is pretty obvious. For many people, this is not an issue. But if you are sensitive to caffeine and have trouble sleeping, you might want to take this advice into consideration.
The Sleeping Method:
It’s not really “my” method, I just called it that because I use it. And it’s too simple to be called a method, but I have to call it something… It’s really just an application of mindfulness meditation.
1) You lie in your preferred position sleep (your eyes can be open or closed)
2) You pretty much lie there doing nothing.
3) Very quickly, you’ll find yourself becoming more aware of your thoughts due to the fact that you are not preoccupied with anything.
4) Remain as the “watcher” of your thoughts. Don’ get involved in the stream of thinking. Don’t judge your thoughts, don’t react to them, and don’t follow them.
5) This non-judgmental awareness will slow down the stream of thinking and you will start to be more aware of a “gap” between every two consecutive thoughts.
6) You just keep lying there, doing nothing, not getting involved in your stream of thinking until you fall asleep.
If your eyes are open, you’ll notice they slowly start closing on their own. If your eyes are already closed, you’ll notice you start getting weird/strange thoughts. It’s fine, this happens when you're entering Stage 1 of sleep.
The Golden Rule of the sleeping method: I know this might sound counter-intuitive, but If you want the method to work, you need to do it without having a goal in mind. Don’t have in mind the goal of falling sleep. Don’t do this method “for a reason”. Of course, ultimately this is why you are doing it for, but if you really want it to work, you just have to do it for no reason whatsoever and just enjoy the process.
Willing yourself to sleep does not work. We “fall” asleep. It’s a natural happening. Trying to force a spontaneous process will simply cause you to become stressed and anxious. Ultimately, what this method is about is simply “letting it be”. It’s your best chance of falling asleep.
You want the room temperature to be a bit cold, but not too cold that you freeze
A colder room means less time to fall asleep and a deeper sleep.
Get some light upon waking up
This helps your circadian rhythm adjust accordingly.
Take a shower about 1 hour before bedtime.
Similar to making the room a bit cold, this helps your body fall asleep faster, as the core body temperature drops during sleep.
Read or meditate shortly before sleep.
This helps you clear your mind and relax your body.
Get about 20 minutes of sunlight during the day if possible.
This also helps the circadian rhythm adjust.
This helps improve the quality if your sleep and makes it likelier you will be tired at night.
Drink chamomile tea
Chamomile is a strong natural sedative.
Listen to Eckhart Tolle just before bed
This one is my favourite. Eckhart is a world-famous spiritual teacher. It’s probably his calm energy, soothing voice, or both, but whatever it is, he puts me to sleep quite quickly. You also get the added benefits of presence/meditation teachings, which further help relax your mind and body.
Melatonin: It’s primary benefit is helping you restore your circadian rhythm, which is why it’s used as a jet lag antidote. Take it only for a few days if your cycle is quite off. Once your rhythm is re-established, you can stop using it. Take it 30-45 minutes before bedtime.
Natural Anti-Anxiety Herbal Extracts:
These can also be useful if you feel there is a need for them. Mainly, you can use Ashwagandha, L-Theanine, Lavender, Valerian, and Passion flower.