Let’s Talk About Sleep
A number of my friends have been complaining recently about sleepless nights and not the fun kind that you recount stories about for months. I’m talking about the kind that involve interrupted sleep, poor sleep patterns and difficulty getting to sleep in the first place. I’m convinced that if there’s anything that could drive you mad, it’s staring at a ceiling willing yourself unsuccessfully to sleep for what can easily seem like hours. Trust me, I’ve been that soldier.
I myself have had a testy relationship with sleep since I was a teenager. My problem was the classic love hate scenario with my bed and one that is shared I’m sure by many a young person – the impossibility of sleeping at night coupled with the super human ability to snooze until late afternoon.
In the last couple of years however I’ve become the man who can smugly announce that he sleeps like a baby for the entire night as soon as my head hits the pillow. This didn’t happen by accident, I will admit that it was the culmination of a conscious and deliberate effort to be a better sleeper. Interested? Keep reading to find out how I became the well rested man I am today:
My rule is no caffeine after 3pm and this includes green tea. Caffeine is a stimulant and so will help you stay alert which is the exact opposite of where you want your headspace before going to sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends cutting out caffeinated drinks 6 hours before you plan to sleep in order to facilitate the elusive perfect nights sleep. Need some tea? Try Chamomile!
Preparation is Key!
Get yourself ready for the next day. Make a list of the things you need to do tomorrow, sort out your breakfast, clothes, wallet, keys and whatever other essentials you need for the following day.
Make an effort to get to bed around the same time every night so come that time your body expects sleep and it will come more naturally. I shoot for between 9pm and 10pm every night (even weekends – real party animal over here) because I like to work out early in the morning. Find what works for you and your lifestyle and give it a go. Personally I need at least 7 hours to be at my best and most adults need between 7 and 9 hours a night to function most effectively. My opinion is that a full nights sleep is non-negotiable.
Set the scene and make your environment conducive to sleeping. Turn your lights down low (use a lamp instead of the ceiling light), play some soft music (howiya Enya), light a sexy candle (ou la la) and burn some incense if you’re into it (notions). Magic doesn’t happen unless you make it happen.
Make Shut Down Mode a Priority
Wind down anything that stimulates your brain an hour before bed – this includes work, watching tv or any other activity. Read a book, have a bath, do some journalling maybe (disclaimer: I don’t journal myself but I’d like to give it a go)
This is along the same lines as above and I will write a full post on the power of meditation at some stage but 10 mins of guided mindfulness is like magic before bedtime. I’ve turned a number of mates on to this and they’ve all seen instant transformative results. Apps like Headspace are dead handy but make sure to use headphones and put your phone away immediately – resist the urge to have one more scroll through your social media feed before bed because you’ll potentially undo all your good work. Finding mediation difficult? Try some colouring – we’ve included a mindfulness mandala on the inside packaging of each FEED and it’s an excellent gateway meditation technique.
Cut Your Screen Time
Studies have shown that exposure to blue and white light from our electronics (phones and tablets etc) actually prevent our brains from releasing the hormone melatonin which signals to our body that it’s time to sleep. This means that it takes longer for us to fall into a slumber. Try avoiding screens for an hour or so before bed to really see a difference in how long it takes you to sleep. This is actually really hard but is worth making a particular effort to do given that melatonin is a key proponent of sleep.
Charge your phone away from your bed and put it on airplane mode. You’re not missing anything; anyone that texts ‘hey you up’ at 2am is not someone you want in your life so they are not worth interrupting your beauty sleep for either. Another handy benefit of having your phone a bit of a distance away is that you need to get up to turn your alarm off meaning you’re less likely to snooze on – win win!