You wouldn’t think sleep would be part of productivity training, but it is. Think about it. If you’re tired, groggy, and lethargic every day from not sleeping, you’re not going to get a whole lot done.
Trust me. I’ve been there.
You’re tired as hell, yet you still toss and turn throughout the night. You adjust your pillow and sleeping position repeatedly to try to catch a few hours of sleep before you’re back to the grind the next day.
Your mind moves a mile a minute about things you didn’t even know were in your head.
It seems like every time you start to drift off, something else pops into your head and keeps you awake. Ergh!
I know. It’s frustrating. Not being able to sleep sucks royally. I’ve been there. But never again.
I used to struggle with insomnia on a nightly basis. I would get at max 4-5 hours of sleep a night, and that was coupled with waking up a few times throughout my slumber. It was pretty bad. I didn’t understand it at all. I was exhausted when I went to bed, but I just couldn’t sleep.
So I set out to learn more about the sleep process, and now I sleep like a baby.
Sleep is definitely a complex science. I won’t go into too many of the boring details in this post, but what I will do is give you three easy steps to get a better night’s sleep. They worked for me, and they’ll work for you too.
No animal counting necessary.
Let Your Mind Cool Down
One of the leading causes of insomnia is an overactive mind. In quasi-scientific terms, stimulated brainwaves keep your mind in an active state, still in problem solving and critical thinking mode instead of sleep mode. That’s why you often find yourself up at night thinking about what you need to buy at the grocery tomorrow, or why the heck can’t chickens fly?
An overactive mind is often caused by external stimuli such as computer screens, TV screens, and cell phones. These electronic devices operate at frequencies which artificially stimulate your brain. They also cause exposure to things you often don’t need to think about just before bed (facebook drama anyone?).
Thus, if you’re like most people and you fiddle with your electronic devices as you try to sleep, you’re not only slamming your brain with frequencies that will keep it active and thinking, but you’re also setting yourself up to find out stuff you probably don’t need to know just before you hit the hay.
Your brain needs about 20 minutes to calm itself down from the daily stress it undergoes. Do it a favor and develop a habit that will let it cool off at the end of the day. I suggest reading for 20 minutes each night before you sleep. Try something light like a magazine, or a book for entertainment purposes.
And for those of you who are wondering – Yes, a Kindle is OK. It might as well be paper.
Let Your Body Cool Down
Your body temperature fluctuates throughout the day and regulates itself if it gets too hot or too cold. It goes through periods of rises in temperature, and periods of dips in temperature naturally. These fluctuations are only a degree, or a degree and a half in most cases, but they do matter.
Your body rests the best when it’s cooling off. This is why you often sleep better when your pillow is cool, the AC is on, and your bed is the perfect temperature.
A good way to force your body into a cool down period is to grab a quick shower about 30 minutes before bedtime. The second the you turn off the water, your body will turn its regulator to be in it’s cool down state.
Make sure to get straight to bed to take advantage of this. Grab a book while you’re at it and you’ll be primed to get a good rest in.
Be the Master of Your Thoughts
Even if you don’t religiously watch TV or play with your electronics before bed, you still may find yourself awake with a wandering mind. This often stems from stress and worry, but that’s another topic entirely. What this step is about is learning to be in control of your thoughts.
Often you’ll find yourself thinking and random things as you try to fall asleep. What ends up happening is, without knowing it, you react to them in your head. You try to work through solutions. You play out scenarios. You let your mind get the best of you.
Before you know it, you’ve been at it for an hour, you don’t even remember what you were thinking about, and you still can’t sleep.
The trick here is to simply let your mind wander without reacting to it. Let it be free. If a thought comes into your head that bugs you, or you feel the need to think through, tell yourself no. Just let the thought go. Let your mind wander to the next thing, and the next thing.
You’ll slowly find your urge to solve problems at bed time diminishing, and you’ll train yourself that when your head hits the pillow, it’s time to sleep.
There’s definitely more that goes into sleep, but these strategies will definitely help you. Try them out for a few weeks and I guarantee you’ll sleep better. You may even find yourself becoming a morning person.
Before you know it you’ll be riding a unicorn down the yellow brick road on your way to Candyland!
Err… What you never had that dream?
To Your Success!