I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know? Ernest Hemingway
Anyone who knows me, knows that I have this amazing ability to fall asleep within seconds every night. Seconds! It’s almost like I’m hypnotised … someone can go “Go to sleep” – and that’ll be it, I’ll be asleep. How do I do it? Through my journey of becoming more self-aware, I discovered that stress has the opposite effect – I can go from sleeping really easily, to not sleeping at all. Anxiety has been known to keep me up all night. And, unfortunately, I’m one of these people who can’t function very well off less than eight hours of sleep a night – especially during winter! Did you see my post about the benefits of receiving sleep? You can read that here.
These are my tips for how to fall asleep quickly:
Step one – know your blocks … and avoid them!
If something is keeping you up at night or wakes you in the middle of the night, it’s important to know what it is that is disturbing you. Ask yourself some questions: Is it your body clock that naturally keeps you awake? If so, how can you work with that? Is it stress? Is it noisy neighbours? Perhaps it’s that you woke late in the day and your body doesn’t need that much rest? Have you stopped being as active as you usually are? Take a look at your lifestyle and any changes that may have caused you not to be able to sleep easily at night, and don’t be afraid to head to the pharmacist and collect a set of ear plugs and eye mask if that will help!
Step two – watch what you eat
Don’t eat so much in the evening that you’re completely bloated. Don’t go to bed on a full stomach – it won’t be comfortable or easy to sleep and it’s also harder for the food to break down. Avoid stimulants in the evening at all costs. No coke, don’t drink too much alcohol or eat too many sugary foods. Avoid carbs where you can – fish and vegetables, steak and salad … a protein and some leafy vegetables or salads is the best way to go!
Step three –get as comfortable as you can
I find that if I go to sleep with my partner, then I’ll sleep all night – perhaps I subconsciously think of him as my protector. But if I’m sleeping on my own, I will wake during the night, generally to a noise. The trick to sleeping all night is to get as comfortable as you can with your surroundings. I try to use a pillow to act as his body-double when he is not around, to trick myself into noticing it less. I have noticed in the morning the pillow often ends up on the ground … fortunately my partner does not! I also notice that when I’m sleeping alone that I wake more easily to noise and disturbances and I find it hard to get back to sleep after that. In this scenario I try to do some meditation – and I keep a second lock on the door to ensure that there are no unexpected visitors during the night. If I’m really concerned, I’ll get up to check the door is locked before returning back to bed – once I know the door is locked, I can rest more easily.
Step four – don’t watch the clock
I notice that a lot of the time when people wake during the night they immediately check the clock, and their mind instantly does the maths “Oh – two hours to go… what if I can’t get to sleep in that two hours? But it’s only four in the morning… I’m going to get bored…” and so their mind wonders and worries and it will keep you up. Checking the clock just gives you another reason for your mind to wander onto something that will only disturb you. The light from looking at your clock will also wake you more than you would otherwise feel if you don’t look at the clock. Learn to trust your alarm clock. Set your alarm and tell yourself you won’t look at your clock, or your phone, unless you are disabling the alarm in the morning.
Step five – keep a worry pad
When stress has me awake in the night, I do my best work! I keep a worry pad next to my bed, I will come up with an action plan and write it all down. Once I’m satisfied that everything is on paper and I won’t forget it the next day, I generally find I’m able to return to sleep more easily. Worst case scenario, I will start working but get a much earlier night the following evening.
Step six – make the room as dark as possible
Make the room as dark as possible, and as soon as you shut your eyes, tell yourself that you won’t open them until morning. Once I’ve set my mind that it’s bed time, I just won’t let myself wake up. Lights out is lights out. The darker the room is, the easier it is to sleep. Use an eye mask if you need to.