Here are some specific strategies to get a better night’s sleep:
Sleep needs foreplay
Ease into it. If your life is a war zone right up until the moment you hit the sheets, it’s a bit ridiculous to assume you’ll always be able to power down on the right foot. You can train yourself to sleep better by mitigating the environment you enter the sleep stage in. Low lighting and calming habits can make falling asleep less burdensome. Things like drinking a calming tea and carving out a dead period without work before bed can set the stage for a good night’s sleep.
Bedrooms need borders
Your bedroom is for sleep (and sex). That’s it. Don’t do art projects, Excel spreadsheet evaluations or eat meals in your room. Creating boundaries can have a double-whammy effect: You’ll learn to expect to sleep when you’re in there and you’ll have a clear delineation where work, social life, meals and sleep start and end.
Go pitch black for the win
A cool, dark room is the optimum condition to get a good night’s rest. Exposure to light is the enemy because it produces cortisol in the body. This stress hormone tells us to wake up, eat food and be alert. Turn off the TV, throw away your night light and buy some blackout curtains. Even little red blinking lights on DVD players, TVs and alarm clocks can affect cortisol.
Say “no” to drugs
It’s remarkable how often and how frequently I hear about men and women who are dependent on sleep aids. These drugs do one thing: They mimic everything about sleep except the sleep part. They induce the symptoms of sleep (i.e., eyes closed, lack of presence, memory lapse, maybe some snoring) and forget the key elements of sleep (i.e., REM, hormone regulation, etc.). You’ll feel better rested, more alert and have more energy after a night of natural sleep than one on a sleep aid.