GREAT SLEEP STARTS FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
I know... it's an oxymoron. Let me explain. Too many people who have bad sleep habits try to go to bed early. This is perfect if you're actually sleepy. If not, your mind will keep you awake, chewing on problems from the day or wondering when you'll get tired enough to fall asleep. Instead, wake up early. Yes, you'll really struggle the first 3-5 days, but your body and mind will eventually adjust and you'll feel tired earlier each night and within a week or two your body will crave an earlier bedtime ;)
NO FOOD FOUR HOURS BEFORE SLEEP
Food habits take the first place by far. If you eat right before sleep, the body uses up energy mostly for digestion instead of resting and regenerating. Whenever I’m at a business or private dinner and I “stuff myself” with food, I wake up feeling more or less sleep-deprived the next day. Food before bed kills peaceful sleep as well as contributes to excess body weight the most. You simply do yourself a huge favor if you don’t eat in the evening; it’s best if you eat nothing after seven o’clock.
That’s why the first rule that you should try to follow is no food at least three to four hours before sleep. Better four hours. Even if it’s necessary to turn down an invitation to a business dinner – better to do lunch instead. If you don’t manage to eat anything after lunch until the evening, it makes sense to eat something light, no meals that are complex or difficult to digest. Trust me, whenever you eat something heavy or in big quantities in the evening, you’ll always be sorry the next day. Very sorry.
THE BED IS (ALMOST) EXCLUSIVELY FOR SLEEPING
Some experts emphasis that the bed should only be for sleeping. Well, and for one other activity – sex, of course. The brain is thus supposed to associate bed with sleep and once you lie down, you simply fall asleep; after having sex.
GET YOUR HORMONES CHECKED
Progesterone naturally metabolizes in brain tissues to the metabolite allopregnanolone, which is known to produce calming, anti-anxiety and possibly enhanced memory effects. Because of its relationship when converting to GABA, it can have a similar effect as having a natural Xanax or Valium. For both men and women when testosterone is low you'll have night sweats. All of this interferes with feeling your best in general, but especially at night. Tossing and turning isn't helpful, neither is missing out on REM.
OXYGEN AND TEMPERATURE
The body needs oxygen, even during sleep. If you don’t believe me, try not breathing for a couple of minutes :/ This is why it’s recommended that you air out your bedroom before sleep, making it fresh and full of oxygen.
Experts agree, sleeping in a room where the temperature is too high isn’t good. It’s best if the temperature is somewhat lower (approx. 18 – 22 degrees C). Everyone should figure that out for themselves. And lower temperature helps produce testosterone.
Me, I wake up feeling the most rested at a lower temperature and an open window supplying a steady flow of fresh air. If you can’t sleep with an open window because you’re cold, at least air out the room before going to bed. But you should absolutely choose what suits you best.
NO SCREENS TWO HOURS BEFORE BED
Besides food, devices with an active screen right before sleep are the biggest enemies of peaceful rest. An active screen strongly stimulates the eyes and the brain, and so you’re simply not ready to sleep. The rule you should try to follow is no active screens at least two hours before sleep. And you shouldn’t watch television anyway. If you find it problematic to not have an iPad or any other device in your hands, increase the transaction costs. Only have your iPad far away in the office.
The only acceptable device in the evening is Amazon’s Kindle, which has a passive screen. It’s similar to reading a book, but you can have an unlimited amount of books in a single book. In short, your brain will understand that Kindle is not a “computer”. The only thing you have to be careful about is reading something light before sleep. Classic literature or math equations will make your brain go crazy and you definitely won’t fall asleep easily.
It’s also essential that you don’t have electrical devices, such as clocks and similar, near your heads during sleep. Instead, they should be as far away as possible. It’s especially crucial that they don’t shine. The more electrical devices that you have turned on in your bedroom, even if they don’t give off light, the harder you’ll fall asleep; much less if they do give off light.
NO COFFEE, ALCOHOL OR DRUGS
By drinking coffee, you definitely confuse your internal clock. I myself have not been drinking coffee for a couple of years now, and I have no need for it. If you do drink coffee, the most suitable time is definitely in the morning. The closer to the evening that you are, the harder you’ll fall asleep if you drink coffee or your quality of sleep won’t be that good. So you have to be very careful when drinking it.
Same with alcohol. If it seems that alcohol and maybe even drugs relax you, the quality of sleep is actually significantly worse. I used to have wine at night and when I stopped my sleep got substantially better. It’s better to go for a quick jog than to help yourself out with alcohol or drugs. With these kinds of substances, you don’t do anything good for your body, neither in the short term nor in the long. By excessively consuming alcohol and drugs, you definitely damage your sleep quality as well as your health. You’re locking yourself into an emotional cage with no easy exit.
DARK AND QUIET
It’s scientifically proven that you sleep best in the dark and quiet. That’s why it’s important that the television is off, all noises are eliminated and the body is thus prepared for sleep. Dark also supposedly plays an important role in allowing all important chemical reactions during sleep to happen. It’s recommended to close the blinds and curtains, especially if the full moon is getting closer or already occurring (so that you don’t sleepwalk because of it).
I’m very sensitive and have a hard time falling asleep if I’m not in the dark and quiet. Introverts usually have that kind of problem. But I know a lot of people who aren’t bothered by that at all. They can fall asleep at any time and anywhere, no matter the conditions, as long as they’re sleepy enough. I can’t do that, so I also can’t really judge the quality of such sleep. You have to find out for yourself, but the dark and quiet will probably help.
NO WORK TWO HOURS BEFORE SLEEP
Negative thoughts and intense feelings can also be caused by work responsibilities, especially if you focus on them right before sleep. They don’t have to be difficult duties at all. Even getting into the flow of some work and being chased by deadlines can contribute to you not being able to fall asleep.
That’s why it’s good that you finish work at least two hours before sleep. It’s even better if you’re ultra-productive for 8 hours, during which you can do all essential things, spend 8 hours charging your batteries and then devote the rest of the time to other activities that fill your life.
NO LIQUIDS TWO HOURS BEFORE BED
It’s hard to get well-rested if you get up often during the night. Drinking water throughout the day is definitely crucial and it’s recommended that you have a flask with you the whole time.
But drinking water before sleep naturally forces you to get up more times that necessary during the night. That’s why it’s good to not drink anything at least two hours before bed; and before you head into the world of dreams, you shouldn’t forget to go to the toilet.
GOING TO SLEEP WHEN YOU’RE SLEEPY AND INTERVALS OF SLEEPINESS
The worst thing you can do is pressure yourself because you can’t fall asleep. If you lie down and try to fall asleep but can’t, that’s an excellent opportunity to take a book into your hands. You should go to sleep when you’re truly sleepy. But still wake up early and at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
Research says that sleep takes place in intervals that last about 90 minutes and that in each interval, different sleep phases take turns. At the start of the interval, you get sleepy. So if you aren’t sleepy, be patient, know that a new cycle will eventually begin.
I noticed that with myself as well. If I become sleepy and don’t go to sleep, I’m awake again and have to wait for quite some time to get sleepy again. It’s the worst if you get sleepy before midnight and don’t go to sleep, and then the new interval of sleepiness only comes late after midnight. As already mentioned, you’ll regret your decision the next day.
FRESH BED SHEETS AND A SHOWER
It’s necessary that before sleep, you wash out all the “dirt” that you collected during the day. You’ll feel significantly better. Morning and evening showers have an incredibly beneficent effect on peaceful sleep as well as on productivity and well-being during the day.
Of course a freshly washed body feels best with fresh bed sheets, which have to be changed often enough. New and fresh brings nice things and events into your life.
SET SLEEP SCHEDULE
It’s best if you create your own sleep schedule with your habits as soon as possible. Many phones have sleep schedules and reminders in the alarm area. If not, download an app! Wake up every day at the same time and go to sleep absolutely before midnight. The steadier that your sleep schedule is every day, the more easily you fall asleep and the better rested you wake up.
It’s also useful to know the concepts of a morning and evening type of person. If your responsibilities allow you, you can also probably turn your schedule around (being awake at night and sleeping during the day) and still wake up feeling well-rested. A turned-around sleep schedule is mostly characteristic of creatives, musicians, visionaries, thinkers and even entrepreneurs, in a certain stage. But you still have to make an assessment for yourself and decide if the turned-around sleep schedule allows you to get enough sleep and rest, and not walk around the world as zombies.