Are you reading this when you should be sleeping? Are you sleep-deprived enough to rely on someone else’s recommendations for better sleep? As a well-experienced insomniac, over the years, I have tried numerous things, and surprisingly many of them worked for me.
So today, I am going to share some tips for enhancing sleep, reveal what my key to success (aka better sleep) was, but also to confess why was I relapsing and struggling for so long.
7 Golden Rules for Better Sleep
Tips, recommendations, suggestions, tricks, etc., call them whatever you want, they are all of that, but none of them will work, until they become a rule. And, you know why? Because, things we do not consider as rules, we do not take so serious.
However, this is a different kind of rules, because you set the rules, you break them, and you obey them. There is no one to control you. Except for yourself.
So, you will need a lot of discipline and self-control. Are you ready? Here is what you need to do.
1st Rule: Increase Your Exposure to Daylight
Natural sunlight can help us reschedule our circadian rhythm and reset our inner clock. It is recommended to spend a lot of time outside, to walk in the morning, to spend your lunch break outside, etc. But what worked the best for me is to wake up with the sunrise.
Forget about blackout curtains, and use the ones that are a bit sheer, but not too much. There is nothing better for a healthy sleep routine than to be woken up by the sun at the same time every day.
2nd Rule: No Caffeine After 4 PM
I used to be one of those people who believe that caffeine does not work on them. Like, if I am tired, I will fall asleep right after a cup of coffee, it does not matter. But, I mainly drink coffee because I enjoy the taste, not to stay awake because I was already winning in that discipline.
So caffeine was only a cherry on top of my insomnia. Since caffeine can stay in your system for 6 to 8 hours after consumption, it is better to avoid it if you want to have quality sleep time.
3rd Rule: Your Bed Equipment
Your bed should be comfortable; otherwise, you are not going to be so happy about your sleep time. The mattress needs to suit your body preferences, and you also need a proper pillow. You know how pillow makes sleep better when it is cozy and supportive, well, it can also turn it into a nightmare and keep you up at night if it is not the right fit for you.
So feel free to be picky when shopping for mattresses and pillows, they are essential.
4th Rule: Sleep Environment
Not all of us are interior design freaks, but we should all aspire to have a cozy and pleasant sleep environment. Find some new sheets, fluffy pillows, add a few things that will create a certain atmosphere. Think about your bedroom as your sleep sanctuary.
A relaxation room. No more working from the bed late at night instead read a book, or light a candle, write down your thoughts, plans, etc. If you live in a noisy area, use earplugs, and also block any source of light and make your room completely dark for sleeping.
5th Rule: No Exposure to Blue Light
For a long time, I could not imagine not checking Instagram and other social media just one last time before falling asleep. As we know, scrolling through social media can easily go from 5 minutes to 1 hour, but wasted time is not the biggest problem.
The bright light from our smartphones can trick our brain into thinking that it is daytime, and wake us up while we are trying to fall asleep. So the best is to avoid blue light exposure for at least one hour prior to our bedtime.
6th Rule: Quit Napping
Short power naps can be pretty useful for surviving a hectic day and recharging your batteries. But these naps are usually scheduled and do not last longer than 20 minutes. Random naps, on the other hand, are more unpredictable.
You can wake up after 30 minutes feeling refreshed, or after 2 hours, feeling more tired than before. It is always a gamble, and if your naps are prolonged, they can hinder your desired bedtime because there is no chance that you are going to fall asleep on time.
7th Rule: Exercise
Almost every book about a healthy lifestyle includes exercising regularly. And it is no wonder because exercising brings many more benefits than just muscles. Exercising can enhance your sleep routine, and keep you in shape at the same time, so it is a win-win situation.
You can start with lighter exercises such as jogging, pilates, stretching out, or even yoga. So before you start using supplements and medications, try the god old natural way. Exercising should not be performed right before bedtime, but slightly sooner, so that your body has enough time to relax and calm down right on time for snoozing.
My Rulebook Story
The reason why I started thinking about these things as rules is that I firmly believe that rules need to be obeyed. Or at least that is my case. As long as something is a recommendation, a tip, I find it hard to stay disciplined.
For example, it is recommended to exercise regularly, but that still does not mean that I have to do it. And that was my main problem with all sleeping tips and changes I was trying to make.
After trying to follow specific tips, I would usually start skipping after a few days and finding excuses to begin from tomorrow, etc. However, as soon as I started considering them as rules, my approach and philosophy changed, so I became more disciplined and actually was able to see some long term benefits. You do not need to follow all these rules, find the one that works for your case, and stick to it.
The Bottom Line
Another important thing is that when you notice an improvement in your sleep, that does not mean that you can now stop doing whatever it helped you. These “rules” are basically healthy behavioral changes that need to become a part of your regular daily routine. And the best part is, you get to create your own rules and live by them.