How To Get To Sleep

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The Ultimate List of tips and tricks to get to sleep and stay asleep - from routines to a five minute mediation.

Are you ready for the ultimate list…it’s gonna be long.  So, don’t fall asleep.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a hard time falling asleep most of my life.  It’s always taken me a few hours.  And nothing good comes from sleep deprivation.  I remember growing up and my mom would tell me, “Well, as long as you’re lying down, it will be alright.”  I’m grown up now and I wonder how much of that was true.  Or was she just trying to keep me from getting up and running around.  Yep, a mom’s job is never done.

How would you like to go to bed tonight and know you were going to zonk out; sawing some major logs.  The tricks are quite simple.  The execution requires your attention.  I’m going to give you my tricks of how I get right to sleep.  Then get the kind of sleep you get at a bed and breakfast without a care in the world.  Sounds too good to be true, but I’ve been doing these for a while and they never fail.  But like I said earlier, it requires you attention.

You know that feeling you get when you are driving off to a bed and breakfast.  You are already starting to relax and chill – relaxing drive, no rushing, playing some good tunes.  Ah, yes, I’m feeling it right now.  .  . hmmm.

It’s easy to get busy and overwhelmed before bedtime.  Whether you’re a parent or working full-time…or both!  Oy!  And you take that straight to your bedroom.  It has no business in your bedroom.  You’ve now entered your personal bed and breakfast area – though probably without the breakfast.

So, let’s get cracking on those Z’s.

#1 Problem: Laziness

Yep, I said it.  You give so much of your attention to the rest of your house, but what about your bedroom.  I know, by the time you get in there. . .forget it.  You just collapse into bed – probably didn’t even brush your teeth.

Remember what I said earlier – IT REQUIRES YOUR ATTENTION!

When you wait until you’re exhausted to go to bed then you skip all the things needed to get you to sleep in a timely manner.  Yep, you need to schedule ‘going to bed’ in your planner.  That way it doesn’t get forgotten about.  Getting a good night sleep is more important than anything else you do. If you plan your vitamins and exercise then you have to plan your sleep too.

As you start getting into your routine make note of how long it takes.  That way when you are on the fly, changing your schedule, you will already know that it takes you, let’s say, 20 minutes to prepare for sleep.  Yes.  You are going to create a routine for yourself.

Bedtime routine sounds like something for only kids.  No, it’s not a punishment.  You’ve haven’t been bad.  Think of it as a treat for such a successful day.  You deserve a reward for being a great parent or a hard day’s work well done.  Besides, how are you going to do your exercise routines with lack of sleep?  Eating healthy isn’t going to get those hours back – neither are those vitamins.  And no, there’s no time to rest in the grave.  If you want to live a long time and get your business done then you need to get your sleep.  Or you will be carrying your regrets to your grave.

#1 Solution:   Routine, Routine, Routine

Stop thinking that it’s going to be more work on your plate.  You’re going to your personal bed and breakfast with a negative attitude.  Besides, the service is great there.  You know who’s been in your bed.  Duh, you.  There are no bed bugs – I’m guessing.  And everything is right where you left.  No need to unpack anything.

A routine signals the body of what’s about to happen.  In this case, it signals the body that it’s time for sleep.  Routinely washing up or reading in bed tells your body that sleep is coming. With most mammals, the sun going down signals their bodies that it’s time for sleep, but with your lights and devices, it’s hard for the body to get the hint.  Instead we keep at it with whatever we’re doing.

1st Routine Set: The Hours Before Bedtime

This is actually what you do or don’t do before you go to bed – specifically in the evening.  What you do before 5 pm might be okay, but after that, be mindful of your evening routines. This routine can seep into your bedtime routine and da foil everything.  Then you will have a hard time getting to sleep no matter how well your actual bedtime routine goes.

Avoid Caffeine after 5 pm

Caffeine can be obtrusive to your sleep.  I try to stop my caffeine by 5 pm.  It’s funny how no matter how sleepy I get, if I’ve had caffeine, I will just lie there.  I sit up to read, thinking it will help me to sleep.  I finally realize that my body is sleepy, but my mind is wide awake.  Dang it!

Plan Exercise For Before 7 pm

Exercising in the evening is another thing that can disrupt your plans for great sleep.  The issue with exercising in the evening is that it energizes you.  Your heart is running faster and stronger.  Your muscles are pumped and ready for action.  That isn’t what you want when it’s time to go to bed.

Unless you know that it actually helps you to sleep, I would suggest not doing it.  I’ve heard that exercise shouldn’t be done after 7 pm.  If you’re not sure, try skipping it in the evening for a while to try it out.

I know that men generally have a hard time going to sleep at a reasonable hour.   Men tend to go to bed late and wake up early.  That is their evolutionary trait from evolving as hunters.  So, for men, exercising at night might actually work for them.  Let’s face it, have you ever known a gym or exercise facility to close early?  Nope.  It’s packed with guys.

Eating right before Bedtime

Avoided eating a meal or even snacking before bedtime.  Doing these right before bed may cause you to lie in bed waiting to fall asleep.

If you find yourself hungry close to bedtime, try to stay away from carbs – especially fast carbs like sweets, white rice, bread or white potatoes.  Stay with proteins and vegetables.  If your sweet tooth really needs something, try some fresh fruit.

Remember that getting hungry close to bedtime is a sign that you are tired.   Your body is telling you that it needs refueling if it is to stay up longer.

Unfortunately, I can’t give advice on drinking warm milk before bed.  I was not brought up to do that.  I think it only works when you were started on it at a young age.  I can’t imagine drinking warm milk when I’ve been trained to only drink cold milk.

Action Packed Movie

We all love to watch movies at night.  But planning it so that it ends right before bedtime is not a good idea.  If you can’t avoid it, you might need to wind down with something more relaxing or even boring.  Otherwise, your mind will be pumped and spinning with ideas and fantasies.

2nd Routine Set: Prepare for Tomorrow

Its hard to sleep when you’ve got tomorrow on your mind.  After all, it’s only about 8 hours away.  Schedule about 15 minutes to prepare for tomorrow’s adventures.  Here’s a list to get you started, but make your own.

  • Set out your clothes
  • Set out your kids clothes
  • Prepare lunches
  • Prep your vitamins
  • Write anything on your mind into your planner.  Let it become you future self’s problem, so you can sleep tonight.
  • Set you alarm clock

3rd Routine Set: Prepare Your Sleep Area

Okay.  You’ve now entered your bed and breakfast safe haven.  This is where you will be preparing to fall into bed.  If it’s not quiet, turn everything off.  You will be preparing for sleep soon.

  • Turn off your main distractors like your TV or energetic music
  • Straighten your blankets and sheets.  I find it more beneficial to completely remake the bed – skipping the fitted sheet of course.  For some reason my body just knows its different.  Go figure?
  • If you can, switch from bright lighting to dimmer lighting; string of lights or desk lamp.  This helps to simulate evening or dusk lighting – signaling your body that sleep is coming soon.
  • Set your smartphone and tablet to vibrate.  Also, don’t leave it on something hard where it will vibrate loudly.  I actually set my iPhone on a unused folded wash rag.  I have plenty and it makes for a thick barrier between the device and the wood shelf.
  • Turn on relaxing and calming music.  But not inspirational music, you don’t want to become inspired to work on something.  You want to go to sleep.

Here is a suggested list of relaxing music. These are the same songs I listen to every night.  It’s just simple classical music.  Don’t worry.  If you don’t like classical, this set has a Chill Music genre feel to it.  You won’t even notice.  Here is a link to the actual Album called Classical Stress Relief by Lifescapes.  It has over 70 minutes of music.  Plenty of time for you to prepare for bed while you unwind.

Each song here is linked to an Amazon digital download.  Yes, they are an affiliate, but I only get 4%.  We’re talking pennies.

  1. First Gymnopodie by Satie
  2. Reverie by Debussy
  3. Theme from Piano Concerto in E Minor by Chopin
  4. Entr’acte From Carmen by Bizet
  5. Minuet from sonata in G-Op 49, No. 2 by Beethoven
  6. Pavane, Op. 50  by Faure
  7. Larghetto from Clarinet Quintet in A by Mozart
  8. Arioso from Canata No. 156 by Bach
  9. Consolation by Liszt
  10. Adagio from Flute Quartet #1 in D by Mozart
  11. Air on the G String by Bach
  12. Claire De Lune by Debussy
  13. Wild Rose
  14. Sicilienne
  15. Prelude
  16. Siciliano Sonata No. 2

4th Routine Set: Prepare Yourself For Sleep

Yes, I wish I had someone to do all of this for me too.  But alas, we can’t all be rich with hired hands to prepare everything for bed. I’m reminded of ‘Shakespeare in Love‘.  There was a scene where the lady’s nurse handed her an instrument to clean her teeth.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone hand to you your toothbrush and watch you to make sure you brushed your teeth?

So, with that, let’s start the cleaning routine.  I know you are ready to collapse into bed right now, especially with that music playing. But don’t worry, we’re almost there.

1. Change Into Your PJ’s

You should remove your dirty clothes and slip into whatever you like to wear to bed.  They should be clean and non-restricting.  If you feel they are too tight or uncomfortable in any way, they are not for regular sleeping.

2. Remove your Jewelry

I know there are those that like to where their favorite jewelry 24/7.  And far be it for me to get between you and your personal jewelry.  But please keep in mind of the following

  • Long necklaces can be a choking hazard.  They can also snag your hair in the middle of the night.  This can disturb your sleep.
  • Cheap jewelry can cause a rash.
  • Watches are not as thin as necklaces, so your wrist really needs a break.
  • Decide wisely about wearing ear rings.

Well, I could go on, but you get the picture.

3. Wash Your Hands

Now we’ve entered the bathing part of your bed and breakfast.  The first thing to clean should be your hands.  Because let’s face it, you can’t wash your face and brush your teeth with dirty hands.  If you have it, use antibacterial soap.  This will help prevent getting germs into your mouth when you brush your teeth. This helps to reduce the chances of you getting sick.

4. Brush & Floss Your Teeth

Ok, now I’m starting to sound like your mom.  But hey, these are more signals to your body that its bed time; especially, if you get into a routine of doing all of this.

5. Wash Your Face

This goes for you guys too.  Girls do this every night because of the makeup, moisturizer and sunscreen that we wear every day.  But it will help you as well.  It’s a lot easier to fall asleep, if you are clean.  When your skin is clean it can breathe easier.  Yes, your skin breathes.  Apply lip and skin moisturizer, if you like or need it.

6. Shower or Bath?

Now this is one I can’t tell you what to do.  Some people have active lives and careers and really need to shower before bed.   Or maybe you’ve had a long and stressful day and need to relax.  It’s totally up to you.  Just be wary of what affects you.  If a shower tends to energize you, then you should probably try to skip it.

7. Brush Your Hair

This may seem a little silly.  But this is another signal that it’s time to go to sleep.  All mammals find it very relaxing to groom each other.  That would apply to us as well.  Besides, when was the last time you left the hair salon or barber energized?  Never, right? You’re always very relaxed afterwards.

So, uh, if you don’t have any hair, try massaging your scalp with some moisturizer.  And, let me know how that goes.  I’m just guessing, but it sounds logical.

Now that we are done with the bathing area, let’s FINALLY get to bed.

5th Routine Set: Sleep Preparation

The rest of this should be smooth sailing.  This is where you will be doing the final touches on your preparation for sleep.

1. Light Stretching 

I’m not talking about complex Yoga.  This will be just some simple stretches to do some muscle relaxing.   Maybe roll your head around.  Take some slow, deep breathes.  Raise both your arms up in the air.  Now stretch them to your sides.  If you start to have the urge to yawn/stretch, go ahead and do it.  No rules here.  This is not muscle strengthening or diet exercises.  Do what feels right?  You know your limits and where your muscles are tight.  For me it’s my neck and shoulders.

I’ve always tossed and turned for a while before I go to sleep.  I can’t help but think that it’s my body’s way of stretching, so it can unwind.  See, even I need to stretch.

2. Select a Relaxing Book or a Boring Activity

Now, pick out something to read that’s not exciting or creative.  You need to be winding down.  You don’t want to get your brain thinking about too much stuff.  Don’t read the news or anybody’s horoscope.  Don’t choose a novel that is action packed, too creative, scary or depressing.  You need something boring, neutral or at least something you’ve read before, so you know what’s coming.

A book I like to read sometimes is Farmer Boy.  Its all about Laura Ingles Wilder’s husband when he was growing up on a farm.  I find that their daily activities take me away from the worries of my own world.  It gives me a better appreciation that I don’t have to wake up at 12 am to tend to animals in the middle of winter.  Burr.

You also have the option of a game that is simple like a word game or solitaire.  I find word games are good.  I play Every Word on my Kindle.  The non-lit screen is better for your eyes before sleep.

If you don’t have a Kindle or paper bound games, and you only have your smartphone or tablet, I highly suggest that you turn the brightness down to ZERO – all the way down.  Using back lit devices or even watching TV while you’re going to sleep can contribute to your loss of sleep.  You’ve already worked on dimming the lights down to simulate dusk lighting.  Why would you erase all of your efforts?

I’m not going to lie.  I can’t help, but whip out my iPad sometimes.  But I always turn the lighting down to its lowest setting.  It helps.

3.  Tuck Yourself into Bed

Yah, no explaining what to do here.  But don’t be afraid to use a pillow to prop your book or kindle up.  Remember, you should be relaxing.  You shouldn’t be stressing over holding something.

After you’ve read for a while, you will find yourself getting sleepy or heavy.

Can you hear Mr. Sandman counting down?  Let’s count down with him.

5. It’s time to turn the relaxing music off, if it hasn’t already finished playing.

4. Put away book or game.

3. Turn off the lights

2. Lie down and pull the covers up

1. Sleep

What if you’re still having trouble getting to sleep?

Sounds really simple, doesn’t it?  But sometimes you may need some more help.  Here are some extra things I use when I still can’t sleep

a. Sound Machine

Sometimes it’s too quiet or the weather is too loud.  Sound machines can really help out in a pinch.

My neighborhood is so quiet that its dead quiet.  It took me years to get use to it.  I found it hard to fall asleep when all I could hear were my ears ringing.  Yah, it’s that quiet.  Unfortunately, my sound machine that I had broke.  So, I found an app that does the same thing and then some.  Check your smartphone’s apps to find an app that can produce relaxing sounds.  Mine is called ‘Relax Melodies’ from iTunes.

b. Keep the Room Cool

I’ve heard many people say that we sleep better when we are a little cool as opposed to being too warm.  This was probably because of our evolution.  We didn’t evolve with blankets, sleeping inside a dwelling.  So, it makes sense.

I know that my heart tends to go faster when I can’t sleep because I have gotten too warm.  It always sneaks up on me because I never feel too warm.  I have to make an effort to remember to check, if I’m too warm.

Try to keep the room cooler than you or at least cooler than you would normally like it.  This is easier in the winter than the summer.  You can also try taking off a blanket, if you have a few layers on your bed.  If it’s summer, just use your flat sheet.

c. Clear Your Mind & Keep Still For 15 Minutes

Sounds too simple, doesn’t it.  But you would be surprised.  How does one clear their mind?  I guess we should consult Yoda from Star Wars.  What works for me is to imagine empty black space like a deep void.   And hold it.

d. Relaxing Scent, Lotion or Spray 

Adding a relaxing scent like lavender can be added to your regular routine, if you like.  You don’t have to use it as a last resort.  You can find lavender in lotions, oils and various fragrances.  You can choose if you want add it as a perfume, lotion or air freshener.  Either one will work.  Lavender has been a relaxing scent forever.

You can choose a different scent like chamomile or rose.  But whatever you choose should be part of your routine so you can train yourself to associate it with sleeping.

e. Simple Chakra Mediation

I actually forget about this one sometimes.  It’s super simple and quick.  There’s even an audio version that you can buy.  But it’s part of an album called Chakra Meditation & Guided Visualization by Eluv

My favorite is #5, which is only five minutes.  It’s a guided meditation for releasing and sending your negative energy to the Earth’s core.

Let me know how this worked for you. You can respond in the comments section below.

The Ultimate List of tips and tricks to get to sleep and stay asleep - from routines to a five minute mediation.

The Ultimate List of tips and tricks to get to sleep and stay asleep - from routines to a five minute mediation.

Image courtesy of UnSplash

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