- Do you have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep?
- Do you snore loudly and/or heavily?
- Are you excessively sleepy or do you lack energy in the daytime?
- Do you have trouble with concentration or memory loss?
- Do you fall asleep while driving, in meetings, while reading a book, or while watching TV?
- Turn off all electronic devices and light--your room should be quite and very dark (wear an eye mask to block out all light) to avoid stimulating your brain's pineal gland which regulates melatonin, the hormone which promotes drowsiness. Exposure to light suppresses the release of melatonin keeping you alert. Blue light emitted from a computer LED screen in a darkened room can delay the onset of sleep and reduce deep sleep if the computer is left on while sleeping.
- Reduce your thermostat temperature (i.e., down to 65 degrees Fahrenheit)--decreased ambient temperature encourages better sleep (bonus: cooler temperatures stimulate your body's metabolic rate which aids in keeping you lean).
- Avoid using your snooze alarm--your snooze alarm will not be needed as your body has its own internal "alarm" for waking up, provided you go to bed at a regular time and make an allowance for at least seven hours of sleep prior to wake-up time. By the way, if the first sound you hear in the morning upon waking up is an alarm then you are sleep-deprived! You should not have to rely on an alarm clock to wake you up. If you do, then strive to get to sleep earlier so that you can awaken feeling completely refreshed and full of energy.
- Go to bed only when feeling sleepy and if while in bed you find yourself unable to get to sleep, get out of bed and do a non-arousing activity (i.e., light reading, reciting lyrics from favorite songs, listening to calm instrumental music).
- If you can't get to sleep because your mind is racing with thoughts about the next day or whatever, jot your ideas down on note paper in order to let your thoughts go.
- Get yourself a white-noise machine and use it to drown out ambient noises outside (esp. in a big city).
- Perform sleep rituals (i.e., listen to relaxing music, do some light reading, drink decaffeinated tea, stretch, take a hot bath, etc.)--this gives the body/brain cues that it's almost time to get to sleep.
- Only use your bed for sleeping with the exception of extracurricular activities (i.e., sex)--avoid watching TV, reading mail, doing work while in bed.
- Have sex before going to sleep--performing sex releases hormones like serotonin which causes sleepiness.
- Have a light snack before bedtime but avoid a big meal (e.g., milk, turkey, cottage cheese, etc.)--feelings of hunger can interfere with sleep.
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."