Yeah, it sounds like an infomercial. Use my patented techniques - and you can win at sleeping.
Actually most of this has been trial and error, and I can't say that my sleep is perfect but I sleep better than I did in years. Most are just quick hits but I think the #1 reason is diet. No, I won't bore you with my paleo diet rant now, but I would throw out there that the #1 thing about sleeping well is cutting out/down sugar or caffeine at least 6 hours before sleeping. But here's what else I have learned:
- Sleep in a cold room. I keep my room at 64 degrees. I used to be 68 degrees or so, but I have learned is that colder equals better. I sleep with a down comforter to keep me warm.
- Sleep in a dark room. I bought black-out curtains to stop any street lights from invading my room. I turn around my alarm clocks so they face the wall. Any LED lights I block. My room is pitch black. If I wake up at 10am, there is a small amount of light that filters in - but otherwise I keep it as dark as I can.
- Wear full length clothing or pajamas to bed. This is a strange one, I know. I used to sleep in just underwear. I don't know the science behind this, but this is pretty important and goes hand in hand with the cold room. I wear flannel bottoms and a short sleeve or long sleeve shirt to bed. No socks.
- Cut out caffeine. I drink one 16 ounce coffee a day in the morning. I don't drink coffee (or anything with caffeine) after 10am.
- Drink lots of water. I drink about 80 ounces of water a day (which includes the coffee), which is 10 cups. I have read other websites and their suggestions which have me at 148 ounces I should be drinking a day, which is a bit absurd. My suggestion, however, is buy a water pitcher or water bottle, keep it at your desk at work, and refill it at your water cooler to keep you drinking while at your desk.
- Exercise. I don't care if you just walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes or do Crossfit, but you have to get moving. I think the only valid excuse is you are handicapped or you have a baby - otherwise shut the fuck up and figure out a way to get in AT LEAST 30 minutes a day. You can get a great stretch done in 10 minutes and a vigorous exercise done in 15 minutes if you wanted to every day. I set my schedule AROUND my exercise.
- Keep regular sleep hours and get at least 7 hours of sleep - I personally aim for 8 hours a night. I wake up for work at 6am. I have to force myself to sleep by 10pm. I'm a night owl. I love staying up. I set an alarm on my iPhone every night at 9:45pm. Its my warning bell to floss, brush my teeth and go to bed. Which leads me to...
- Stop using your bedroom for anything other than sleep (or sex). I used to read in bed or watch TV in bed. I got rid of my TV in my bedroom. My bedroom is now for sleeping. That's it. This was a tough habit to break. After i'm done brushing my teeth, I go into my bed, turn off my light and lie down. If I am not sleepy, I will just wait. Calm my mind. I'm asleep in 10 minutes.
- Take a warm bath. This is optional, but I have found I LOVE taking a bath before going to sleep. Not a shower. A nice soak in hot water. No reading or watching TV - just a soak.
- Nap! I'm a big fan of napping. Interestingly enough once I adhered to my rules above, my afternoon sleepiness has greatly lessened. Occasionally I still like a snooze, but try to keep it at 15 minutes but no longer than 40 minutes.
I used to make some of these optional, and never could sleep well. Trust me, just try what I say for 1 week and you will notice a great difference. If I had to say the most important things would be a cold room and a dark room, and turning the LED lights from alarm clocks OFF. When I wake up at 3am, I don't look at my alarm clock anymore. I wake up, think "I wonder what time it is..." and then fall back asleep. Is my sleep perfect? No. But it is a billion times better after I learned those steps above. Get into the bed - just sleep in it. If you need to read or watch TV - do it outside the bedroom. Good luck!