This post is about how to sleep better. If you are in the majority of Americans, you are not sleeping well enough and/or long enough.
Sleeping well is about good habits and rituals. Here are some guidelines. Pick one or a few that seem reasonable to start with.
1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Your body is really smart. Consistency allows your internal clock to tell your body to get ready to sleep or to wake up.
2. Get all of the TV/phone/ipad/computer stuff done one hour before bed, The light from digital screens tells your body its daytime when it’s really not.
3. Limit fluid intake after a few hours before bed, and caffeine before noon. This will limit bathroom visits at night, allowing for a more consistent, restful sleep. This probably means drinking a little more water during the day to stay hydrated.
4. Take a hot shower or bath. This will help with that "ramping down-" relaxation is the idea here. 5. Stretching/foam rolling/deep breathing/meditation. Fight or flight (SNS) is a internal system that tells your body it’s time to get on your game. It was designed to help get yourself ready to manage a short term threat from a bear or lion. For some people, it hums on a low level all the time, due in part to a mismanagement of chronic stress. The key for good sleep is tapping into the opposite system, the PNS. These activities help to do just that.
6. 5 min writing. Before bed, spend a few minutes writing anything down that's on your mind. The idea here is to get it out of your head and on paper, so you can feel comfortable about dealing with it tomorrow and not forgetting about it. You can use a journal, a notepad, a piece of printer paper. Ideally hand-written, not typed (see number two).
7. Light, dark, and temperature. Circadian rhythms are based on light exposure. The best way to tell your body it’s time to wake up is sun exposure. Open your shades or get outside. On the flip side, your bedroom at night should be as dark as possible. Get yourself some blackout curtains, or at least a sleep mask.
Finally, cooler is better. Ideal sleeping temperature is somewhere around 69 degrees F.