Friday, February 19, 2010

Tips for better sleep

As stated in a previous post stress has a tremendous impact on your quality of life.

Here are some practical tips I’ve shared with people who want to fall asleep more quickly and improve the quality of their rest:

  • Figure out how much sleep you need. This may seem obvious, but most people don’t sleep enough. The average adult needs between 7 and 8 hours of sleep. Find your body’s preferred amount, and make that the priority (not the activities that are taking its place). Then set yourself a firm time to get to bed.
  • Account for your pre-sleep routine. Most people have between a 15-30 minute routine of things they do before head. The problem is that this time often isn’t accounted for.
  • No TV or computer at least 30 minutes before bed. The problem is that TVs and monitors are active light sources (things that emit light). Our bodies are wired to stay extra-alert when looking at an active light source because it usually meant danger.
  • Dim the lights. Installing a dimmer switch for your bedroom’s lights or a low-wattage bulb for the lamp near your bed will remind your body that it’s time to relax.
  • Reading or listen to something calming. No drama, thrillers, that you can’t put down. No fast beats with engrossing lyrics. Pre-bed time is for winding down; you’re better off reading or listening to something that maintains your interest for about 7 minutes (2-3 pages). That's just enough time to stop thinking about your day and drift away.
  • Keep a pad of paper by the bed. If your mind starts racing anyway, use your pad to write down the thoughts as they come in. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation. Just write. As the words come out, they’ll stay stuck in the page and you’ll be able to unwind. If you don’t they’ll stay stuck in your head and your mind will race trying to remember them for the morning. You’re better off being able to jot them down right away. As a bonus, the physical action of writing can also be tiring.
Remember, you'll sleep better as long as you do one of the above tips. Please don't try to incorporate all of them at once. For best results, pick the tip that most appeals to you then do it for 21 days in a row to ingrain it into your routine before you add another technique.

Have a tip or technique that helps with your own sleep? Please share it in a comment!

(Note: the picture is of me taking a nap in Patagonia back in 2000. My days were packed with rich experiences and I basically had no access to electronic devices. I have never slept so consistently well.)

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