Sleep is definitely something I've struggled with throughout the years. I’ve tried many different things. Some have worked and some haven’t. Now, being a new dad I’ve to really figure this out so I can be more present for both work and my family. After some trial and error with a few different methods here is what I’ve found.
1. Create a Sleep Routine
Limit the stimulus an hour or so before bed time. Many things will arouse our brain and TV is one of the most stimulating things for us. So shutting the TV off will allow your brain to relax a little and get prepared for the night ahead.
2. Limit Fluids & Alcohol Before Bed
Limiting alcohol and caffeine past a certain point is key to having a good night sleep. People tend to think they aren’t as impacted by a cup of joe as they really but it will always have an impact on your sleep if you drink it past a certain time. I’d restrict any caffeine at least 6 hours prior to bed time and any alcohol 2-3 hours prior to bed time. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it’s never a good deep sleep. So let’s limit that as well. As for any other type of drink I’d limit that an hour or so before bed as well. You don’t want to get your sleep interrupted by a sudden bathroom break.
3. Create a Sleep Haven
Few things are more pleasant than slipping into silky sheets, a slight chill in the air and a pitch black room for sleep. Create a space which limits outside light or lights from electronics. No, you don’t need your phone by your bed, you can afford a 5 dollar alarm clock.
So what are some things we could do during the day which could also help us?
4. Get Some Sun
The sun sets our daily melatonin cycle and the body will know when it should be awake and when it should be asleep.
5. Get Some Exercise
Any movement will help the body rest at night. The body loves to move around and burn off the food we continually enjoy.
6. Make Lunch Your Biggest Meal
Think about it. The digestive tract has to start working when we start eating. When the digestive tract has a big job to do they will need more energy from you to do it. So why do we make dinner our biggest meal and wonder why we feel like our stomachs are in overdrive at night!! They are!!! Let the body do what it does and set yourself up for success. Have the big lunch, let the body digest while you're awake. Have a small to medium size dinner and let the body do less work and prepare itself for a restful night.
7. Jot Down Your Thoughts
This may not be a popular solution, but I think it’s one of the best. Reflecting on the day, reflecting on your goals and reflecting on your emotions is a great practice to get into. We all have a tendency to run from event to event and not check in with ourselves. Asking simple questions like, why did I react that way? Or what did I enjoy about the day are easy ways to get started. Journaling doesn’t need to be profound, it just needs to be you…the vulnerable and honest version of you. This will help calm the mind and let those ruminating thoughts subside.
Hopefully this helps you and I both conquer those sleep demons.