My 16 BEST Tips for A Good Night’s Sleep: Part 2
Table of Contents
Y'all, I slept terribly after the full moon on Saturday. It was that or a recent conflict at work that upset me. Either way, I feel like I'm still recovering from lost sleep :( I feel like the universe probably wanted me to relive a night of insomnia so I could really finish this two-part series strong. So thank you universe! Zzzz
You’ve read the last post on Part 1, mastered all of the tips in preparation for a good night's sleep, and gotten yourself into bed. Now what??
Have we magically fixed our sleep?! What we do once we get into bed is just as important, if not more important, than what we do in preparation for bed!
Keep reading along...
- Keep your room cool and dark: invest in some blackout curtains, turn on fans, and keep it cool in your room. Your body temperature decreases overnight in order for you to really get some zz’s. Keeping your room cold helps with this process. Another thing that helps me is having lightweight pajamas.
- Use background noise: Not a must-have unless you are me and must have this. I like to use a fan for this (also helps with cooling the room) but you can also use white noise machines and apps to assist. If you travel, consider a travel fan or a free fan app on your phone. The phone app I have is called Sleep Aid Fan.
- Be consistent with your sleep and your wake times (even on weekends): so crucial!! It’s tempting to change things when it’s the weekend, but it can take a toll on your body when you are in the midst of an insomnia streak. While we are trying to retrain our brains and our bodies to sleep at night, the best way to do so is to be really consistent with sleep and wake times.
- Practice sleep restriction: the measure of effective sleep is called sleep efficiency. This is the total time spent sleeping divided by the total amount of time spent in bed. The goal is to reach above 85%. For example, if you are in bed for 8 hours but are only sleeping for 6 hours, that is a sleep efficiency of 75%. But wait, that's close to 85%, right? Mmm not really, and you are spending 2 hours awake in bed!! Not good. The more time you spend awake in bed, the lower the sleep efficiency. Your brain is still associating the bed with being awake, so this will impact your sleep. In order to improve this, take your goal wake-up time and count backwards. For example, if you normally want to be up by 6am, and you know you normally get 6 hours of sleep per night, consider getting into bed at 12am to start. While it may seem harsh at first, it forces you to drop into bed when you are feeling completely exhausted and when your body is ready to sleep – a recipe for improved sleep efficiency! Stay with that for about a week. Then, as you start to capture that sweet >85% sleep efficiency, consider keep adding 15 minute increments to your time in bed, one week at a time. Over time, you'll be able to move up your sleep time closer to 10pm or even 9:45pm -- if that suits you! And voila, you are sleeping for 8 hours at night :) or whatever your body truly needs!! Remember, it does not have to be 8 hours every night! It could be anywhere from 7 to 9 hours! It could be less or more! Your body will know!
- Get out of bed if you are awake for more than 15 minutes! I mean it. We do this to maintain our sleep efficiency. The longer you stay in bed, the more your sleep efficiency decreases. And the more your brain starts to associate being awake with being in bed. Do NOT turn on a screen, look at the time, smoke, drink alcohol, or snack! I can't tell you how many patients of mine do one or all of the above! All of these will stimulate you or make you nervous about how much time is left for sleep. This means that none of these activities are helpful! Choose a restful activity such as reading a physical book, journaling, or meditation. Perhaps have some non-caffeinated tea. When I get up out of bed, Rocco follows me so at least I have a buddy to hang with :) He's a great sleeper btw.
- Use your bed for only sleep and sex: My friends Sam and Vicky like to say S&S. Like I mentioned before, no reading, eating, watching TV, studying, playing on your phone, or anything else in bed! Because then your brain once again associates the bed with stimulating activities and we are ruining our chance to sleep! We are trying to retrain the brain to associate the bed with some dear, sweet, and delicious sleep. It is worth it!!!
Another thing I want to mention is that let's say you do have a night of poor sleep. This increases your sleep hunger the next night(s), meaning your body will be craving sleep due to a recent lack of sleep. For example, since my last night of insomnia, I've been sleeping very deeply and my sleep efficiency has been really high. In other words – your body knows what to do, so don't sweat it! Remember to keep your sleep/wake times consistent.
These were/are the best tips that work for me. Nowadays, I sleep pretty soundly, except when it's a full moon, or if I am going through something. Things happen, and that's okay.
My hope is that if you follow these steps, your sleep will not only improve, but your mood will improve, your cravings will improve, and you and everyone around you will be happier for it. Treat your body like you would any other thing you love! It needs it and deserves it, and so do you!
Y’all have a fantastic week! Until next time!
Quotes: “Sleep is like a cat: it only comes to you if you ignore it.” -— Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
- Jacobs, Gregg D. Say Goodnight to Insomnia. New York, Henry Holt: 2009.
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