Photo by Jennie Faber
People fail to realize the importance of getting a good night’s rest. I say this as I down my third cup of coffee for the day, having slept just six hours last night. Usually I can brush it off and still get the day’s deeds done, but there are little, often unnoticeable side-effects. Wavering concentration, lack of memory, and being irritable are just a few.
Then there’s the larger, more long-term effects, like compromising one’s health to get more hours out of a day. Our nervous systems are also affected, which hinders a body’s ability to carry out demands. As a consequence, reaction times are often delayed. According to this BBC reaction test, I’m merely an ambling armadillo rather than a turbo-charged cheetah. The truth hurts.
If you have sleep issues, I’m sure you’ve heard all the usual methods. Stop eating before bed. No caffeine or alcohol throughout the day. No having any fun whatsoever.
Here are some unconventional methods for improving your sleep habits.
1. Get up and go – Stop making excuses, jump out of bed as soon as you’re awake. Place your alarm clock on the other side of the room so you’ll have to get out of bed to reach it.
2. Practice waking up — Before you settle down for the night, climb into bed and pretend to be asleep. Next, jump out of bed excited and eager to start the day! Eventually your brain will stop being such a lazy bones and realize your body is in charge.
3. Toss and turn slowly — Tossing and turning is an impulse effect that can be stopped by forcing yourself to stay still for 15 second intervals. If you are truly uncomfortable and must turn over, do it very slowly. Your body will automatically relax.
4. Keep a sleep journal — Record what time you go to bed, key events that happened throughout the day, dreams, the time if you awake during the night, and how you feel in the morning. When you’ve recorded enough information over a period of weeks, you can look back and determine what factors and events caused you to be sleepless, and then make a plan to deal with these problems.
5. Practice some bedtime yoga and meditation — The rhythm control of your breathing streghtens the nervous system if practiced on a regular basis. Within a few months, your sleep becomes deeper and more relaxed. This practice also helps when dealing with jet lag or travel stress.
The Big No-No
No matter what methods you try, do not turn to sleeping pills or other drugs. Your body will learn to rely on medication to fall asleep. Unless you have a serious sleep condition like Restless Leg Syndrome or Narcolepsy, there are other safer solutions to try.
How do you wind down after a long day? Share your sleep solutions.