I’ve been sleeping terribly lately, and it’s all my fault.
Everyone is different, I know. My hope is that by sharing this, it might offer a helpful hint or two for others, though it’s primarily a personal guide. I plan to update this article frequently as I continue refining my sleep routine.
My Recipe for a Perfect Night’s Sleep
Some might think it silly that I write a whole blog post about getting good sleep. But once you’ve tasted the sweet embrace of a perfect night, you’ll never stop chasing the dragon. I need a personal reminder on what to do moving forward. No, I can’t do this every night, but I need a majority of my nights to be perfectly restful. Here’s how to get a perfect night’s sleep:
Start 2 Days Before
I say this because you really need a foundation. Once that first day is done, you can keep going. It seems each time I try for perfect sleep, it doesn’t happen until I’ve put in a night before.
- Exercise – Probably the best sleep aid ever.
- Meditation – Reducing stress is key to easy sleeping.
Just Before Bed
Here are my bedtime routines if I’m looking for the best sleep possible. And yes, this mostly all pretty basic and widely-known. That doesn’t mean I like to ignore it!
- Exercise and Meditation – Preparation for sleep comes earlier in the day.
- Start Early – There’s no point in doing all this unless it’s a full night sleep. If I have to wake up early, I go to bed early
- No Food/Snacking – I need a nearly empty stomach to sleep evenly. Stay away from sugar too! Sugar is the enemy!
- No Caffeine – They say stop after 3 pm. I think it should be earlier. Like 11 am.
- No Booze – Alcohol helps me get to sleep faster, but then my sleep is crap moving forward.
- Limit Water – I try to drink all my water earlier in the day. Getting up to pee sucks.
- Hot Shower – Whether I’ve taken one today or not, I’m taking another just before bed. Living in a hot, humid climate, it’s just gross trying to sleep without being 100% clean.
- Hot Tea – A little honey and some chamomile does the trick in relaxing me and having a treat other than food or booze.
- Feet Lotion – Wearing slippahs all day, my feet get dry and hinder my comfort at night.
- Magnesium Glycinate – This is the best-kept secret in sleep. I take one and sleep so much better. (I’m not a doctor, so make sure it’s ok for you.)
- Warm Light, No Screens – I don’t look at screens in bed. Don’t need the dopamine. Also, all my light bulbs, including my book light, are warm.
- Good Book – I find this crucial. I know the gurus say to think about the tasks you need to do the next day in order to prepare your mind for productivity, but I think that should come an hour or 2 before bed. I want all the daily stress far away from the bed. I go back and forth between self-helpie books, fantasy, biographies, sci-fi, and business. If I want to go to bed relaxed (not thinking about work), I go with biographies or fiction. I read to till my eyes droop and never try to finish a last page.
I thought I knew how to sleep, but I was wrong. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years.
- Pillows – Everyone has their own configuration. Head and between the knees. Laying on your back is supposed to be the best, I know I sleep well like this, but it’s so hard to stay that way.
- No Light – It’s gotta be dark.
- White Noise – Not everyone likes it, but without it, little noises get me up.
- Warm Light – My watch has an orange/red light if I need to get up. Not too bright.
- No Distractions – We keep pets out of our room and go airport mode.
- Nose Breathing – This is the most important one. If you get a chance, read Breathe. Basically, all kinds of malidies and long-term effects happen when you breath through your mouth.
- Tracking – I track with a sleep app to see how I’ve slept and go over it each week.
- No Wifi – We’ve put our router on a switch controlled remotely next to our bed. We can turn it off to cut down on EMFs.
Waking up after a perfect night’s sleep sets me up for a productive and happy day. I never get more done than when I’ve slept well, and my mood is at it’s highest.
- Mellow Alarms – Remember that long brown rectangle alarm from the 80s with the car siren? NOPE. I stick to being woken easily.
- No Screens – So many people jump onto social or email right away. It’s jarring to the system. I stick only to things I can control 100% when waking up. Beginning the day in reactionary mode is not the way to set up the day.
- Make the Bed – I find it sets me up right for the day.
- Water – I drink a full glass before I eat anything.
Why Sleep is IMPORTANT!
- Natural Body Rhythms and Sleep Needs: Our bodies operate on an intrinsic 24-hour cycle, influencing things like temperature and hormone release. A mechanism in our system gauges the accumulated need for rest, intensifying this need the longer we stay awake. This internal process is crucial for determining how deeply and long we sleep, particularly after periods of not sleeping enough.
- Changing Sleep Patterns Across Life Stages: The amount of sleep necessary alters with age. Babies often require 16 to 18 hours of sleep daily, while children and teenagers need about 9.5 hours. Adults generally need between 7 and 9 hours. However, as people age, they tend to sleep less during the night, and individual sleep needs can vary.
- Brain Health and Memory Enhancement: Sufficient sleep is essential for the brain’s adaptability and capacity to process new information. Lack of adequate rest can lead to difficulties in retaining and processing information. Sleep is also thought to help cleanse the brain of waste substances.
- Physical Health and Wellness: Not getting enough rest can lead to an array of health issues, including mood disorders, increased blood pressure, weakened immune function, and can even affect blood sugar levels. Proper rest helps maintain heart health and stabilizes blood sugar.
- Common Sleep Disorders: Disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea can significantly disrupt sleep. Insomnia includes challenges in falling and staying asleep, while sleep apnea involves breathing interruptions during sleep. These conditions can have broader health implications if not addressed.
- Strategies for Improved Sleep: To enhance sleep quality, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, engaging in daily physical activity, and seeking natural light exposure are beneficial. Avoiding stimulants, limiting naps, and creating a restful sleeping environment also help. Persistent sleep issues should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
Update, 1 WEEK later: I’ve been ignoring 1/3 of this. I’m not snacking or drinking alcohol. I’ve reduced caffeine, not looking at screens at night, etc… I’m doing the majority, but it’s not enough. I’m finding it’s kind of important to do it all. I’ve been having hit-or-miss sessions.
Update, 1 MONTH later: Ok, so I’ve been doing the majority on this list for about a month now, and I’m having massive results! The only things I’ve missed are regular exercise (still getting it, but sporadic) and I haven’t meditated at all. I’ve been pretty strict about everything else. Natalie has me on a new protocol for zero sugar, taking Melia (neem), and drinking charcoal every night. I’m not sure if it’s the new protocol, or the no booze, or what, but my heartburn is almost entirely gone!!! CRAZY! We just had a hotel staycation this last weekend, and I drank again, and the heartburn came back. It’s not as bad though. I’m routinely getting 7-8 hours of solid sleep with an average of 9 hours in bed. Just finished reading Dune Part 1.
I’m noticing that when I drink now, I get congested forcing me to sleep breathing through my nose, ruining sleep. It never dawned on me that my biggest immediate issue from alcohol is poor sleep! I used to have a “treat” almost nightly, but it doesn’t make any sense now. For the occasional social session, I’ll suffer a bad night moving forward, but I absolutely can’t go back to my old sleeping habits. It’s a game-changer. More to come!