How to Enjoy a Good Night’s Sleep Without Counting Sheep
You toss and turn, adjust your pillow and try to find that sweet spot on your bed. Yet, after a good 10 minutes, you are still wide awake and staring at the ceiling fan. Your good night’s sleep has eluded you.
You glanced at the clock and realized that its 3 a.m. and in 4 hours, you need to be up, dressed, eat and commute to the office for a very important presentation. In a panicked frenzy, you go to the kitchen and ingest a glass of Jack Daniels . . .
At the rate things are going, you may end up an alcoholic or sedative junkie just to get a good night’s sleep. Well, if there’s any consolation, you are not alone as 40 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic sleep disorder.
What happened to your good night’s sleep?
Not getting a good night’s sleep will affect your cognitive performance and you may experience memory loss, inattentiveness and easily agitated. In the long term, an insomniac is heading towards the path to anxiety and depression.
If you are sleep deprived, your day to day function could be affected. You may experience difficulty in making the right decisions, feel drowsy throughout the day and drive like a drunk driver. You may also develop cravings for foods with high sugar and carbohydrate.
What is depriving you of a good night’s sleep?
Let’s analyze the nature of your sleep deprivation and determine which category of insomnia you are suffering from.
Transient Insomnia lasts from a few days to a week. The usual suspects of transient insomnia are medication, caffeine and stress. Changes in your physical environment (excessive noise, light, and change in temperature) is also a factor. Also known as short-term insomnia, transient insomnia may be resolved once you adapt or no longer subject to the cause.
5 Steps to a good night’s sleep
Before resorting to sedatives, Jack Daniels or counting sheep, try these:
1. Getting your bedroom ready for a good night’s rest.
Create a calm and soothing environment for sleeping by adjusting the room lighting and temperature to your preferred setting. Keep all electronic devices with screens out of your bedroom. Blue light from TV screens, laptop and mobile phones can be disruptive to your sleep.
2. Your bed is for sleeping only.
Your subconscious mind must accept that the bed is only for sleeping (activities related to intimacy is the only exception to this rule).
Once your bed is associated with a good night’s sleep, you will sleep soundly when your head touches the pillow. Avoid snacks, TV and activities that arouses your mind (like preparing for morning meeting at work).
3. Establish a pre-sleep routine.
You should start unwinding and preparing your mind for rest an hour before bedtime. You may already had an active day at work and your mind is swirling with excitement. Prior to your bedtime, try calming music, relaxation exercise or stretching. If you want to watch TV, make sure it is something relaxing. News is NOT something relaxing.
4. Refrain from any form of stimulant 4 hours prior to bedtime.
Yes, this includes caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Although alcohol have the effects of making you tipsy and maybe even sleepy, its effects wear off after a few hours and then it begins to act as a stimulant.
5. Go to bed ONLY when you feel sleepy.
Just because you missed a few hours of sleep a night ago, don’t try to make up for it by going to bed early. If you are struggling to fall asleep, get up and go to another room and do something instead. DO something relaxing until you feel tired. Then return to your room and go to sleep.
If you have trouble sleeping three nights a week for a period of three months or more, you are suffering from chronic insomnia. If that’s the case, take two pills and call me in the morning . . . 🙂