– Get in bed for 8 hours each night: set a consistent wake up time and bedtime.
-Optimize your sleep environment: think of a cave – dark, cool, quiet.
-Establish a useful bedtime routine: brush your teeth, plan your tomorrow, clear the mind.
We have all heard the saying “sleep like a baby.” Well, I have a 9-month old son. He is a lot of fun, but I don’t want to sleep like a baby. How about we all sleep like adults instead?
There is much to do! Work, hobbies, relationships, school, too many things to list. The point is, we want to be busy and productive. Spending 8+ hours in bed, honestly sounds like a waste of time. What if we could do away with sleep all together and have an extra 8 hours per day to spend on hobbies??
Nope, our biology will not allow it. If we want to thrive and be our best, we must rest well. So let’s figure out how to get the most out of our time in bed.
1 – When?
You decide. But you need to find a consistent time that you are willing to wake up. That means seven days per week, even the weekends. Give your body a regular routine to depend on, and you will thrive.
From your wake up time, count back 8 hours. Now you have found your bedtime.
Why 8 hours? Good question.
As we sleep, we go through different types of sleep. This occurs in a repeating manner. This is called a sleep cycle. Each sleep cycle is about 90 minutes in length. We need about 5 of those sleep cycles per day. That adds up to about 7 and a half hours of sleep.
If you plan to be in bed for 8 hours, you will give yourself time to fall asleep, toss and turn a little, and still get your 5 sleep cycles.
Some people need 6 cycles of sleep which brings the total to 9 hours. Does that describe you?
2 – Create your modern day cave!
There are three things that help create the best sleeping environment. You could picture a dark, cool, quiet cave. That is our goal.
Before you fall asleep tonight, look around your room. Are there any sources of light?
Common sources are windows, alarm clocks, and LED’s. Get some blackout curtains, put a towel over your alarm clock, and place some electrical tape over LED’s. Make your room really dark!
What temperature do you like to sleep at? The common suggestion is nice and cool. Below 70 degrees in a good place to start, while 67 is even better.
Lastly, block out the noise. A white noise machine works wonders for some. Find ways to keep your room quite.
Sneaky tip: put your phone on “do not disturb” or leave it in another room overnight.
3 – Make it happen – Routine.
The last part is to find a evening routine that will set you up for success.
Start with your wake up time, then count back to find your bedtime (remember 8+ hours). Then look at the last hour before your bedtime. Plan out on paper what needs to happen to actually get in bed on time. Personally, this is the toughest part.
Plan this out on paper, and follow that list for a week or more until it is habit.
Tip: clear your mind before bed. For many what works best is journaling and planning the next day. This goes a long way in allowing the mind to slow down and let go. If you find yourself staying awake with thoughts racing through your mind, consider adding journaling to your nighttime routine.
-Choose a consistent wake up time, then find your bedtime.
-Create your cave: dark, cool, quiet.
-Plan a evening routine.
-Sleep like an adult!
For more great info on sleep and circadian rhythms, check out the books “Why We Sleep” and “The Circadian Code.”