I don’t just “catch Zzz’s”, I hunt them.
I have had trouble sleeping most all of my life. When I was a kid I would spend a long time laying awake in bed thinking about everything. My mind would be full of hopes, dreams, worries, and fears. I would be thinking of all the things I had done that day. All the things I was going to do the next day. I could not get my mind rest.
When I was younger I would sleep with a night light on. I don’t know at what point it transitioned, but I finally got to a point where I did not like the light on. In fact I wanted complete darkness when I went to sleep. It got to a point where any light at all would bother me and disrupt my sleep. I would have to turn the radio alarm clock face down so that light didn’t show. If you have been there, you know the pain of the light on the smoke detector. The tiny green bastion of resistance!
When I am tired I want nothing more than to sleep. And when I don’t sleep things begin to get weird. I get irritated at small things. I emotionally can’t handle the slightest thing that is different than I expect. I cry more, which is nothing new.
When I was younger and unable to sleep I would watch a lot of TV. Because I am the fourth of seven children there were a lot of other people in the house. And so in order not to keep them awake at night I watched the TV with the volume very low. About 1 or 2. Seriously one on the volume that’s weird. maybe that’s why I’m good at hearing things now. Also from this I learned how to use a little known feature on TVs the sleep timer. You can pick how long you want the TV to remain on before it turns off automatically I would do this in order so the TV wouldn’t be on all night once I finally did fall asleep. On the couch. Which coincidentally might be where I learned to like to sleep on couches.
As I got a little older, late night infomercials weren’t enough anymore. I started surfing the internet. I ended up on a lot of weird sites in the at the wee morning hours. Like a good insomniac that I felt that I was, one of the things I would look at online was how to sleep. And so I’ve read countless articles about sleeping.
Most articles about sleeping are similar to most articles about money. They tell you simple things that are easy to remember. Easy to do. But really you don’t do them. That is why you are reading the article. on the Internet. Maybe that is you right now…
Sleep became a topic of study. I would actively seek out any information about it that I could. All the while doing my best to struggle through to get any of it at all. REM. Sleep Cycle. Melatonin. You name it. I’ve read about it.
Nowadays I am averaging a solid six hours a night and have the following 10 ways to improve my sleep quality. Maybe they will help you too.
1. Cut back on screen time before bed. I have read about how the led lights stimulate your brain and eyes in a way that interferes with natural biological sleep process. Yet I am like most people now and am on my devices constantly.
2. Stop drinking caffeine by 5pm. I’ve heard rumors that not drinking caffeine at all is good for sleep too. I am not sure that I trust people who don’t drink coffee…
3. Have a more consistent bedtime routine. Creating a routine let’s the body know it is time for sleep. Or so they say. It helps when I do it. It is hard when life is always changing…
4. Perhaps getting a humidifier will help. Not being able to breathe makes sleeping hard.
5. Make my bed. I have noticed that after I wash my sheets and make the bed then that night I sleep really well. It is weird. I get better sleep too if I just make my bed. Even if I do it right before getting into bed.
6. Make sure the temperature is pleasant. Currently I have found 69 degrees has been working best for me. It was at 70 and it is funny what 1 degree difference makes.
7. Read fiction before bed. I use to read before bed much more. It is a double edge sword though. If I am really into something I won’t stop reading. For example when I started reading the first Harry Potter book I stayed up all night and finished it. Embarrassing but true. I say read fiction because for me I can’t start thinking about things that are too serious or my brain will get going and then I have trouble reigning it in.
8. Write out things that I don’t want to forget to do the next day. That way I don’t have to think about them as I try to fall asleep.
9. Don’t skip working out. When I do I have too much energy and am wound up and restless.
10. Pray before going to sleep. This helps re-frame my day and life in general.