I noticed that many of my friends have sleep problems. A few years ago I wrote a brief guide to help my friend and wanted to publish it for a while, but it never happened for various reasons. This weekend I found the document, edited it a little, and here is the result 🙂 These are some tips that might help, but if you have difficulties with sleep, it is best to visit a doctor.
Go to sleep and wake up at a regular time everyday. Now, this is not very easy to do, but it will be very helpful. When you establish a regular schedule, falling asleep will be an effortless experience. The key to this is to set a waking up time first and foremost and stick to it. It will be hard at first ( kind of like this 😛 ), but you can do it! 🙂
Develop a bedtime routine. Effects of classical conditioning are not limited to dogs 😛 If you follow a consistent pattern, falling asleep will be a natural response.
Schedule a worry time. Find about 10-15 minutes to worry about things. You could start a diary and write things that happened to you or worry you, and, most importantly, what you can do about them. If you explicitly write down your worries, they will not bother you when you are trying to get some sleep.
Art by Nishiwaki
Meditate. Meditation can help you calm your mind and teach you how to observe and let go rather than ruminate on your thoughts.
Art by Misaki Kurehito
Exercise in the morning. Physical activity, especially in fresh air, will help you to fall asleep faster. You don’t have to exercise intensely for a very long time – do what you can, as long as it is consistent.
Keep a sleep diary. Write down how your night went and describe your day in details if it was particularly difficult to fall asleep. This way you may find additional causes of sleep difficulties.
Art by Gayarou
Do not drink caffeine containing beverage 4-6 hours before sleep. It takes some time for your body to get rid of caffeine effects, which can prevent you from falling asleep. Common sources of caffeine are coffee, tea, and carbonated soft drinks such as Pepsi and Coke.
Do not eat shortly before sleep. Full stomach may prevent you from falling asleep quickly. It is best to leave at least two to three hours between your supper and sleep.
Do not exercise at night shortly before sleep. Exercise will shift your body to the next gear and change your circadian rhythm. It is better to exercise in the early morning or around 1800.
Get off the computer at least 30 minutes before going to sleep. People follow circadian cycles and light is one of the major zeitgeibers (external cues). Try to limit and reduce light from various sources. Moving away from PC can also help you to calm down and prepare for sleep. It is not easy to fall asleep right after playing a difficult game, seeing an emotional movie, having a heated conversation, or any other involving experience that keeps thoughts running through your head. Allow some time to think about your experience and let your emotions to subside a little.
The reason is that no matter how passively we watch television, or how innocuous the book we read is, our minds are still being stimulated. And an overstimulated mind — along with anxiety and stress — is what keeps us awake. It’s all those thoughts in our head we have to get rid of before we can get to sleep. The last thing we need is more input into our heads from television or books. You definitely don’t want to see this one 😛
Art by j.2
Take a hot shower 90 minutes before sleep and wash your feet with warm water right before bed. When people are ready to sleep their body temperature decreases. Many people who have insomnia have too high body temperature. Taking a warm shower about 90 minutes before bed will warm up your body and then the temperature will decrease right by the time you will go to bed. I find that washing my feet with warm water right before bed is very helpful because my feet tend to be cold in the winter, and I can’t fall asleep unless they get somewhat warmer.
Drink milk and honey 30 minutes before sleep. Do it if and only if you are not allergic to honey and can process lactose well (some people are lactose intolerant). Another good alternative that can help you to fall asleep is chamomile, a nice beverage that can also help with stomach problems.
Your Room, Your Bed, and Ways to Fall Asleep Faster
Art by Marihana
Sleep in a well-ventilated room. Fresh air and a room temperature around 60-65 F will give you the best sleeping conditions. Also open the blinds when you turn off the light to allow sunlight enter the room in the morning to help with waking up.
Hide your clock. Set the alarm clock an hide it – the less you know about time the less reasons for you to worry.
Block the noise. If some noise is disturbing you, turn on a fan to block it. You can also try earplugs.
Art by Punchiki
Your bed is for sleep and sex only. Bed is not for working, reading, watching television, doing crossword puzzles, or whatever else occupies you in the evening. Let your mind and body identify bed with sleeping.
Sleep on a firm bed as it will help your entire body to relax and your spine to straighten. This is a very important point. The level of firmness that is comfortable for each person varies, but it is worth investigating and choosing a good mattress. Even though it might cost $300 or more, you’ll be using it every night and how you feel in the morning will, in part, depend on it. Ikea has a wide variety of mattresses.
Sleep on your back because it’s the best position for relaxing, and allows all your internal organs to rest properly. If you must sleep on your side, do it on your right side, not your left. Sleeping on the left side causes your lungs, stomach and liver to press against your heart, causing stress on an organ that most of us find quite useful. Never — ever — sleep on your stomach. It causes pressure on all your internal organs — including your lungs, which results in shallow breathing. It can also, as you’ve no doubt discovered, cause a stiff neck and upper back problems.
Art by Tsukushi
Find a good pillow. Consider some orthopedic pillows and determine what feels the most comfortable to you.
Wiggle your toes. ^_^ Lie on your back and wiggle your toes up and down 12 times, wiggling the toes of both feet at the same time to relax your body.
Escape the vicious cycle. Since you know you have some difficulty falling asleep, you anticipate it and worry about not being able to fall asleep at the slightest sign that you may not be able to fall asleep. The more time you spend in bed worrying and watching the clock, the more anxious and sleepless you become. To break that cycle get out of bed if you can’t fall asleep for 30 minutes. Sit on a chair or do some kind of relaxing boring activity until you feel sleepy.
Sweet Dreams! ^_^
Source: Many of the tips are from 42 Simple Tips to Help You Get to Sleep