So I have had a lot of trouble sleeping in my life and while this still does happen from time to time, I found not that 90% of my horrible nights of sleep are just a result of my evil upstairs neighbor’s desire to stomp the yard and listen to music at 1 am during the work week.
Literally my life:
As someone who spent most of her last semester of college unable to sleep, I know first hand how a lack of sleep can really take it’s toll on you physically, mentally and emotionally. So here are a few tips to help you have a better night sleep, a better morning and just better all around life.
I got into meditation about 3 years ago. It wasn’t a tactic to get to sleep, it actually was a result of my anxiety. It was one afternoon after work and I was dating this guy who loved to ignore my messages and just pretty much treat me like crap (this “relationshit” was short lived) but I had sent him a text hours ago about something important and he hadn’t replied. In an attempt to not send him a “crazy” text I thought oh I’ll try this YouTube meditation for letting things go. Well, it did prevent me from calling him because I fell asleep. This is when I discovered that for me meditation was a good way for me to shut down my brain and sleep.
This is something I suggest with a small side note because depending on the person and the book this might not really do much to help you. I have had nights where reading a good book before calling it a night relaxed me and helped calm my mind. I also had nights where serious shit went down in the book I was reading and I ended up staying up later because “I JUST have to finish the next chapter!” So I think as long as you don’t get too excited, can close the book at the time you are supposed to and are reading a good old paperback copy instead of something off your phone you might find it more relaxing and less stimulating to your nervous system than watching television.
Have you ever had to sleep in a ridiculously hot environment? Like maybe being in the south in the middle of summer and having your air conditioning go out (I’ve been there done that twice…not fun). It was hard sleeping with my body was running so hot. It’s a proven fact that at lower temperatures you sleep better. So turn down the thermostat and strip down because less clothing is more comfortable than more clothing.
Know the difference between a nap and asleep!
I remember during college my sorority had to attend this seminar about being a healthy young woman. I remember the speaker saying that the ideal amount of time spent taking a nap was 20 minutes! I told my friend, “That’s not a nap, that’s a tease!” She then told me, “That is a nap. Those 2-hour things you do are ‘sleeps’.” As much as I hate it it’s true. There is a fine line between a quick refreshing nap and a mid-day sleep that makes you wake up feeling groggy and unfulfilled. Another problem with taking sleep instead of naps that make you feel refreshed and ready to conquer the rest of the day instead they throw off your whole day and make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. Try to keep naps less than 30 minutes and at least 4 hours before bedtime.
Blame it on the alcohol
If you know me you know I’m a huge lover of the spirits. I’ve said on more than one occasion, I like wine more than I like most of the people I know. But there is no doubt that alcohol affects the way you sleep. Try to limit the amount of alcohol you have before bed. Every person is different so you have to learn your body and know your limits. I can have ½ a bottle of white wine and my sleep won’t be bothered at all but if I have anything more than 3 beers, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night feeling over heated and unable to sleep.
One huge mistake I see with people who have trouble sleeping is they figure a few drinks will put them to sleep and while that may be true, usually once it runs it’s course it will wake you up as quickly as it knocked you out.
This is another tip that is person specific. Personally, I try to limit my caffeine intake to 2-3 doses a day, usually a cup green tea and either a cup of coffee or an energy drink. I also try to stop drinking anything with caffeine at 3:00pm during the workweek.
Often we don’t get the jolt of energy we hope for when drinking caffeinated beverages so we just keep drinking them hoping they will work their magic. Instead, they tend to lay in wait and then keep you up when all you want is to sleep. Figure out what is a good time for you to stop drinking and be sure to check beverages for caffeine, often caffeine is found in places you’d least expect it.
Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages aren’t the only liquids that can keep you up. Thanks to the limited space in our bladders (some of us have less than other) drinking liquids too close to bedtime can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night with the urge to go. I try to limit my beverages to 9pm since I try to be in bed around 11:30. If I’m super thirsty I try to sip water versus chugging it so it can really get into my system instead of automatically passing right through me.
Have a plan for the morning.
This may sound silly but waking up and having everything ready to go just helps me wake up in a better mood. I can sit in my bed, take some time to let me mind adjust to consciousness and just relax instead of starting my day rushing and stressed.
Oh man have my earbuds become lifelines! Besides my neighbor upstairs (who I can still hear through them) I tend to be a bit of a jumpy sleeper, especially since my apartment got broken into 2014, any normal little creek can rattle me. While they don’t keep everything out they do help me not be jolted away by perfectly normal sounds like the floor settling or air-conditioned kicking on.
I’ll admit I was nervous to try a sleeping pill. Sure I’d tried melatonin and to be honest have taken benadryl before to help me sleep but I figured taking a real sleeping pill (over the counter or not) was one step away from Ambien and a bottle of wine a night (Thanks for the perception, Hollywood). Luckily that’s not the case. Zzzquil is non-habit forming and just to help you sleep. I don’t use it every night but every so often. I find it works better if I take it and then lay down within half an hour instead of just waiting to feel like it’s kicked in.