a period in my life where I had serious problems falling asleep at night. For anyone who ever struggled with this you know how frustrating it can be.
But there were a few tangible lifestyle choices I adopted which helped me overcome the awakefullness I so often felt in the wee hours of the night, and I would like to share them with you.
Like most recommendations pertaining to personal growth, the 9 activities I suggest below will not only help your sleep but also a myriad of other areas in your life. Enjoy!
1. Visualize the feelings of being tired
The first time someone suggested this to me, I thought they were mad. But it works, and its amazingly simple. After taking a bunch of deep breaths, use your mind and thoughts to intentionally generate the feeling of being tired. Your mind is used to reverting back to thoughts of your life, work, relationships, etc (FYI, this is why you don’t “feel” tired) but you can train your brain to create the emotion of tiredness. It is incredibly powerful, and there are also audio tools that can help you do this!
2. Wind Down: Partake in relaxing activities at night!
Many people complain to me that they have problems falling asleep, and when I ask them what they do before bed-time they say “lift weights” or “conference call for work” or “watch a thrilling movie”. When I write about it like this it seems pretty obvious that the adrenaline and stimulation these activities cause are not ideal preparation for a night’s rest. I suggest spending a few hours winding down instead: write in a journal, listen to relaxing music, meditate, or do something that brings peace and relaxation into your
3. Rise earlier
When did it become so normal for people to wake up at 10am and go to bed past midnight? As a human, the body’s natural cycle is to rise when the sun comes up, and wind down as the sun disappears into the night. Making a habit of getting up earlier will re-set your connection with natural earthly cycles, and drastically improve your quality of sleep over the long run!
4. Do work that stimulates you!
When your brain is actively engaged during the day, it will require greater rest at night. If your daily work does not stimulate you, you will be bored, anxious and even depressed. These negative feelings inhibit the release of hormones in the body that are required to generate the bodily cycle of wakefulness and rest. You need to feel alive and awake to feel tired and spent. So do work that inspires you and you will sleep like a baby!
5. Read some fiction before you go to bed
Reading is a wonderful activity as you wind your day down, but be wary of reading work-related materials or other content that might get your mind moving too fast. Even personal development and self-improvement work is not recommended before bedtime, as it gets the thoughts moving too rapidly. Fiction is ideal to read because it stimulates the more imaginative areas of the brain, and prepares the body to dream.
6. Don’t consume food after 6pm
Think about the main purpose of food: to provide the body with energy. When you stuff large quantities of food into your mouth late at night, the intelligent organism of the body processes it and activates the digestion, circulatory and nervous systems. And then you want to go to sleep? There is a dis-connect here, and if you want to start getting great nights’ sleep it is imperative to limit (or stop) eating food past 6pm.
7. Don’t consume caffeine or sugar past 3pm
On a similar note, the worst kind of food to consume at night is carbohydrates. These foods break down much faster than fats and proteins and cause a spike in energy that is hard to ignore. The worst of the worst is highly processed sugary foods that will make it almost impossible to get a peaceful night’s rest. Caffeine should also be limited because it causes a similar reaction in the body. To be safe, make a habit of limiting simple carbs and caffeine past 3pm. This one suggestion alone could be the key to healthy sleep!
8. Exercise regularly
Pushing your physical limits 3-5 times a week is an excellent way to improve your quality of sleep. Getting the heart pumping during the day generates more efficient blood flow to the brain and body parts, and allows all body parts to experience a more graceful rest period. Plus, common sense dictates that working out will simply make you more tired at night.
9. Take several deep breaths as you prepare to sleep
The easiest recommendation that most people simply do not do is breathe! If you are consistently awake at night, try taking 10 deep breaths as soon as you lie on the bed. Close the eyes, and just let the day go. Notice how immediately afterwards you are in a different state; a more relaxed one. If you are habitually anxious, this feeling may not last long, which is why visualizing being tired (point #1) is a great next step!
OK, now if you
want to know how to get up more effectively, read the wonderful article Mind Over Mattress: How To Wake Earlier When All You Want to do is Sleep by Peter over the I Will Change Your Life.
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