Sleeping is an involuntary, biologically based necessity, which responds to many things including the outside world. Our bodies’ get tired naturally at night and become more alert in daylight, but other environmental factors can influence your cycle. If your lifestyle has taken this cycle off course then the best approach is to reset your cycle with structure.
Here are some quick tips to help you sleep more soundly:
1. Don’t do anything else in bed, but sleep. Use reading or T.V. watching as a way to help you fall asleep, but if you find yourself making your way through chapters or the late night movie then do those activities out of bed.
2. Don’t hang out in bed in the mornings. Jump out of bed in the morning. Even on the weekends – This way your body will get used to waking up right away and associate the bed with only sleepy moments. Again avoid reading the Times on Sunday mornings in bed, since your body will come to associate the bed with feeling relaxed but not necessarily sleeping.
3. Count Sheep! Or invest in the modern day version. Get a white noise machine and FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION SOLELY on that sound. If you find yourself getting distracted, then challenge your attention. This activity alone will tire out your brain and help you to fall asleep.
4. Slow down your breathing and allow your stomach to expand when you inhale and relax when you exhale. (See my post in breathing on specific instruction). Diaphragmatic breathing done in this manner and at the rate of approximately 5-6 breaths a minute is not only associated with positive health benefits also induces sleep.
5. Invest a little time and money. If you have trouble falling asleep, due to anxiety then think about taking your breathing training a bit further. Invest in a biofeedback device or see a behavior specialist.
Commit to 15 minutes of proper breathing training daily during the day. This will calm your nervous system and teach your body a new way to respond to stress and help you to fall asleep faster in addition to releasing you from anxiety.
6. Change your priorities! Make sleep a priority. Schedule your bedtime and commit to it. If you don’t fall asleep on time, DON’T allow yourself extra time in the morning to make up for it. The idea is to create a consistent bedtime so that your body learns to respond to your new cycle and not let the cycle lead your body.
7. Experiment to see where you benefit. If you sleep 6 hours now, try 7 and see how you feel. If you sleep 7, try 8 hours a night for 2 weeks and see what happens. There are plenty of reasons to honor your sleep, see where you feel you benefit most.
Track your mood, energy level, weight, skin appearance, etc for 2 week to assess the immediate benefits.
8. Create a sleep zone with lavender oils. The tone of the room should emulate a place of rest and rejuvenation. Use lavender oils or scented pillows to elicit other pathways to the sleep response. Smell is a very primitive response, thus we respond to it without much thought. Take advantage of that!
9. Workout the 1st thing in the am. I know most people hate this idea or think it’s impossible, but it will change your energy level throughout the day and help you fall asleep faster at night. Plus if you workout in the am you can be sure that your lifestyle won’t get in the way of your daily routine.
10. Challenge your self to stay awake. –if you really cannot fall asleep go with the paradoxical approach-try to stay awake and active. Challenge yourself to read a full chapter in a novel. Don’t take naps the next day if you are tired. Eventually your body will give in to the rhythm!