I used to have terrible insomnia about 3 years ago. It was exhausting and I knew I had to change something. Mostly, I needed to become AWARE of it and stop taking it as given. I might be able shut down my phone, but I don’t have that button on my body.
Why you’re struggling could be something internal and you can work during the day to make peace with whatever it is you carry around – via mediation, breathing techniques, reflection, therapy. Besides, there are some basics that help you once it is really time to call it a day and go to bed. Here are some tips that helped me ever since to become more conscious of my habits and getting back my sleep.
Ditch technological devices
No, not that quick-just-checking before going to sleep. We know the blue light of technological devices is harmful, yet, there is a lot more going on around our phones we might not see but feel unconsciously – remember the time you put the phone close to the speaker and it made a sound like slhskfhdkhlkjdhladlajdla? You don’t want that for your body. Put it away, if you can, even leave it outside the bedroom. Your sleep will thank you.
So many are talking about the morning routine and few are considering that at least as important is the routine before going to sleep. It could be listening to music, or taking a shower, it could be … anything you enjoy really. Repeat it often enough, so your body gets used to it being the last thing you do before going to sleep – trust me, your body will remember it. So, say you take a hot shower before going to sleep, even when you don’t feel tired, your body will make that *click!* and preparing you for nighttime.
Create a comfy space
I am not talking about getting all the interior design you see on Instagram or in a catalogue. I am talking about getting to know yourself so well, you know where and how you feel comfortable – and where not. If you want it tidy and clean – pick up those socks lying on the floor. If you like books, place them in your bedroom. If you need some water, fill up a glass of water before going to sleep – that’s what I do, it might seem a ridiculous routine, but I wake up, and place my glass in the kitchen sink in the morning, to see a new day just started. Before going to sleep, I get a new glass and fill it up with ice-cold water. That’s what is working for me, but there might be things that work JUST for you, so take your time to find them out. And then stick to them, if it makes you feel good. Change them, if it no longer does.
Kick out the clock
Yes. You know why? Because you don’t need a – stressful – reminder of it being 3.65 am in the morning and you should be sleeping. Put it away. If you need an alarm, get an alarm clock that doesn’t make a sound and then hide it in the drawer of the bedside table, or behind the book shelf.
Now is the time to discover it! For a long time, I had my alarm set at 5am, and would either get ready for the gym, or sit down and answer e-mails. I did that because it seems to be the narrative of what’s well-seen and admired, but let me tell you, it is nonsense and even counterproductive, if it does not work for you. And it didn’t for me, once I let go of the idea that I had to. Now, I wake up naturally between 7 – 8 am, and go to sleep late, when I am tired, and ready to hit my sleep. Which by the way, varies between 7 and 9 hours. And no, I don’t feel like a looser after 9 hours of sleep, thinking I lost time. I feel healthy.
And finally …
I am not a sleep expert. If you struggle with sleep, and nothing seems to help, please don’t hesitate to ask a professional. That’s what they’re for – to help us when we need it.
There is a TEDx talk I recently stumbled upon, recorded in these turbulent times, I can totally recommend it: https://www.ted.com/talks/matt_walker_why_sleep_matters_now_more_than_ever
Photo: Pim Chu on Unsplash