I used to be bad at sleeping. Really bad. Like stay-up-all-night bad. And while I actually can function somewhat well of very little sleep, I’m much happier, more productive, and generally a nicer person when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. Luckily, over the years I’ve become a much better sleeper. While there are tons of factors involved (let’s face it, when you’re stressed, you’re not going to sleep as well) there are a few things I’ve learned a long the way that have really helped.
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned along the way.
I know it’s tempting to sleep in on the weekends but sticking to a relatively stable routine is fantastic for your sleep quality! Rather than wake up at 6am Monday-Friday and then sleep until noon on Saturday and Sunday, try waking up around 7 or 7:30 on the weekends and read in bed or have a cup of coffee on the porch. Waking up doesn’t mean your day has to start with productivity. Find a relaxing activity that you’ll look forward to when you climb out of bed. That makes waking up on the weekends much easier.
This was definitely the most dramatic change I made. I used to wait until 7:30 or 8 to eat dinner and then I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep until midnight. Now I typically eat around 6, so I’ve digested my food and used up that “energy” before I go to sleep. If I do eat a late night snack, I try not to eat a lot of sugar. I find for me, that makes it a lot harder for me to fall asleep.
You don’t need to do an entire workout but try stretching a bit before bed. If that’s not your thing, a cup of tea, do a little knitting, a hot bath, or any other relaxing activity will do the trick. The goal is to find something that relaxes your body and your mind.
If you’re into tracking your steps with a pedometer or your activity with a FitBit then you’ll love the Sleep Cycle App. It’s only $1 in the app store and it’s pretty cool. You sleep with your phone next to you and it monitors your movement to track your sleep quality. It wakes you up at the “optimal” time based on your sleep patterns, with a set time frame. I typically set mine to wake me up between 5:55 and 6:25. It’s pretty nifty.
When Alex and I got married, we agreed on no TV in the bedroom. I’ve also kept my computer out of there. The bedroom is a space for sleeping and relaxing (well, and *ahem*) but not a place for electronics. It’s much easier to relax when I don’t have the flash of an e-mail notification or the temptation of “just one more” Netflix episode.