Why is it that we spend all day trying to hype ourselves up for more energy, more productivity, and more “life” and then assume when our head hits the pillow we’ll magically drift into a perfect sleep?
We’re overstimulated, over-caffeinated, and overwhelmed. It makes perfect sense why we are under slept, right?
We’re not going to toss a magic bullet for better sleep; it’s different for everyone. And no, sleeping pills are not a good solution. We want *healthy, habit-forming strategies for better sleep.
Because, after all, sleep is the best performance enhancing drug there is.
There may be no better, no more fleeting a feeling than a good night’s rest. Waking up on the right side of the bed, at the top of a sleep cycle, ready to crush the day is an incredible way to start the day.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
First, in order to get more of these mornings (which are definitely not guaranteed, even with perfect habits in place), our goal is to prepare ourselves for sleep by giving ourselves the best opportunity for good sleep to occur.
If someone’s head hits the pillow at 11PM and you need to wake up at 5AM, did they even give themselves the opportunity for ample sleep? No.
So, if you’re the person sitting there reading this complaining about how you don’t have time, you are the one not making time.
Similarly, we recommend to look at your calendar and write down your priorities; if it’s important, you’ll do it. There will be nights where sacrifice is necessary to get something done or an emergency arises — this isn’t what we’re after — we’re after long-term, sustainable down regulation practices to help you prepare for sleep.
5 Better Sleep Strategies
For future reference, here are five quick (but not cliche or surface level) strategies to hit bedtime, better, working backwards from sleep to the first step.
1. Make Your Bed a Place for Sleep and Nothing Else.
Setting aside the obvious social practices that also may take place in your bed, it should be used for nothing else. Not reading, not watching TV, not checking email, not scrolling social media, not editing photos, not taking a work Zoom call…nothing. Your brain needs to remember what your bed is for.
2. “Take 5” Down Regulation Prep
Try the following script — next to your bed, throw your legs up the wall at a 70-90 degree angle (depending on comfort and flexibility) with your back flat on the floor. Place your right hand on your chest and left hand on your belly — breathe through your nose (exhale and inhale) and into your belly for 5 minutes. Set a timer. Then get up and hop into bed. The lights should already be off.
3. 5-Minute Brain Dump
For five minutes, write down on a notecard all the things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Anything lingering on your mind? Write it down; don’t let it rattle around in your brain while it’s horizontal on the pillow.
4. Track Your Caffeine Intake
If you consume caffeine, track your daily intake, including the timing of doses. If you drink coffee after 3-4pm, it’s either not doing what you intend it to do or you’re going to be wired at bedtime. The half life of caffeine is said to be about 5 hours; drink it early and then stop.
5. Work Backwards For Better Timing
When do you need to wake up tomorrow morning? How many hours of sleep, ideally, work for you? Work backwards to find your bedtime (meaning time you fall asleep). Then, track how long it takes you to get to sleep. Last, set up your evening to enter this “time in bed” as relaxed and stress free as possible. Do not expect to hot dock your entry to bed and find REM immediately.
Good Sleep Takes Preparation
Ultimately, good sleep takes preparation. Changing your sleep habits takes even longer. Do not expect changes in the first week after a lifetime of doing things a different way. If checking IG in your bed is the “only time” you can, try moving that practice out to a different room…or even on the floor…before you get into bed.
In short, the goal is control of our stimulation and control of our down-regulation; we decide when to flip the switch on and off.
The best day ever starts with a great night’s sleep! Tag us on Instagram today with sleep habits that work for you and shout us out @livebetterco with #SleepBetter.