How come so many of us have such a hard time sleeping better? It should not be that hard. Your brain and body? Both are designed to sleep. In fact, they love to sleep.
So if you are not sleeping well, there is a good chance you are getting in your own way. Unintentionally, of course.
It’s not really you. It’s our general lifestyle.
Just think for yourself.
What happens when you get in the bed, free from all the distractions? What keeps you from relaxing as you lay awake looking at the ceiling?
You start having all kinds of negative emotions.
It gets to a point where the more anxious you feel, the harder it gets to sleep. And the longer you stay awake, the worse you feel.
There’s no other way of saying it. The stress is getting to you — at the wrong time.
And if you want a lasting solution, you better stop browsing through for quick fixes. Trust me. You will need more than that. You will need to make some lifestyle changes.
If you don’t, you won’t break out of this cycle of anxiety. If you do, you will have a robust system to fine-tune your brain to your benefit.
Schedule & Maintain
Here’s what you need to know. It’s all about patterns. It doesn’t matter whether good or bad. Almost everything about us is the product of our habits. The same goes for your sleep.
According to the National Institute of Health, f you have a messy sleep routine, you risk yourself into
• high cholesterol
• and high blood pressure
Not only that, but for every hour of variability in time to bed and time asleep, you have a 27% greater chance of experiencing a metabolic abnormality.
On the other hand, if you maintain your scheduled sleep routine even on the weekends, you will help time your body’s internal clock better.
And guess what!
It makes falling asleep and waking up less of a chore.
However, scheduling your sleep time won’t bail you out if you let your stress in the c̶h̶i̶c̶k̶e̶n sheep coop.
Time To Turn to Toxic Positivity
I hate toxic positivity as much as the next guy — if not more.
Anxiety. Shame. Rage. Despair. No matter how intensely negative they are, I accept them all.
I accept them as much as I accept my positive emotions.
That’s how I heal. That’s how I stay functional.
However, there’s a fixed time when I would rather be happy and relaxed than tensed and pragmatic. That would be
➊ before I go to bed
➋ and after I wake up.
Why so? Let me explain.
As much as I accept them, negative emotions are not as good in bed as the positive ones. They tend to screw you over, especially when you are not in the mood.
So, no, I don’t sleep with them.
Okay. So, now, you know that you are better off keeping your stressful thoughts away. But how do you do it?
Well, if you want your grown-ass dog from pooping on the bed, you have to train it to poop somewhere else.
Likewise, if you want your brain to wash its dirty laundry during bedtime, you must train it to do it sometime else.
Again, the goal isn’t to stop worrying. (After all, without it, we won’t get anything done.) The key is to process your negative feelings throughout your day and keep your scheduled bedtime free for relaxation.
Here’s how to do it.
Get Together Your Pre-Bedtime Routine
Don’t tell me it never occurred to you. Why do all those anxiety and insecurities come out right when we try to sleep?
If you haven’t noticed, we are either busy or trying to keep ourselves occupied. Why do we do that? We do that because we hate to get bored.
Plus, thanks to the internet and smart devices, there is always something to keep us distracted throughout our day.
It doesn’t give our brains a chance to work through our negative emotions. In fact, sometimes, we intentionally keep ourselves distracted. So we don’t have to face those ugly feelings.
The only time we are forced to set aside our devices is, you guessed it, our bedtime. And when there’s nothing to keep us distracted, our mind goes straight to what we had been trying to flee all day.
There are two ways of working it out:
Ⓐ Allocate some time to process your negative emotions
Ⓑ Prepare your mind and body by signaling to them that it’s the bedtime
Need help with the former one? Here’s an entire article dedicated to the issue.
Want some help with the latter part? Well. It’s easier than you think. You can
⁃ take a shower
⁃ apply skincare
⁃ or meditate
The only thing is, you have to be consistent with it. By doing that, you make your brain associate these activities with the idea of sleep. They act as triggers to prompt your body to discharge the sleep hormone faster.
However, not all distractions are bad. There’s one distraction that can help you sleep even faster.
Use Physical Books To Sleep Better
Reading books is a sleeping pill with no side effects. But unfortunately, audiobooks or ebooks don’t quite do the trick.
The answer will tie us back to another more interesting question. Why does reading a book makes us sleepy, to begin with?
First of all, reading is quite an immersive activity. It removes you from your daily lives and takes you on a journey. In the process, it keeps all your anxiety and worries at bay, making for a better sleep environment.
But you can achieve the same results with audiobooks or ebooks, right? Wrong.
One of the other reasons why reading makes you sleepy is that it requires regular eye movement as your eyes follow the words across the page. It tires your eye muscle out along with your brain.
You don’t get it from audiobooks. And the blue lights emanating from ebook devices can cause more distress than relaxation.
Speaking of which…
Lighting Does Matter
When your crappy sleep quality keeps you sleepy all day, it could be about the light you expose yourself to before and during you are asleep.
Why do you think people warn you not to watch tv or touch your phone before bedtime? It’s all because of the blue light I mentioned earlier.
So here are a few things you can do to write off this factor for good:
‣ Solution 1. Change your bedroom environment to help you sleep better. Use a low-powered, warm-colored lamp to help your eyes transition into a more relaxing state.
‣ Solution 2. Use a comfortable eye mask for deep, uninterrupted sleep.
‣ Solution 3. Every morning after waking up, expose yourself to bright daylight for at least 2 to 10 minutes. It wakes you up better and sets a timer for your body to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone for the night.
None of these changes are hard to make. All they ask of you is a little discipline. If you ask me, it is a small price to pay to escape the hell of anxiety you go through every other night.
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