So what can you do?
- Put the smartphone, iPad or e-reader away at least 30 minutes before bed. Even with the new modes getting rid of blue light spending time staring at a bright light before bed isn't helping you enter restful sleep. Worse yet, checking social media, emails and news will only increase stimulation or stress exactly at the time you should be relaxing.
- Sleep in a cool room. My wife and I disagree on the meaning of cool. I prefer something just below normal room temperature. She enjoys something in the neighbourhood of sub-arctic. Nevertheless sleeping in a room between 16 and 19 degrees celsius will help you get proper rest.
- Black out the light. Hang light blocking drapes and reduce light from electronics in your room. To enter into proper sleep you want to keep your room as dark as possible. Cover up or dim down the lights from clocks and electronics. Leave your phone in another room.
- Have a ritual. If you have kids you know the importance of a bedtime routine, but I'll be you ignore it for yourself. Having a regular bedtime (when possible) and a pattern of activity before bed is a huge component of signalling your body it's time for sleep. For me, it's going to bed around 9 or 9:30, reading a paper book for 15-30 minutes and then lights out. The book I choose at my bedside isn't stimulating, controversial or thrilling. I keep a trashy fiction novel or a book about running both of which I find restful.
- Stop eating 2-3 hours before bed. Your body has better things to do while sleeping that digesting food. If you find you wake feeling tired and rarely have an appetite for breakfast I'll bet you're a late night snacker. When your body spends the night digesting that pizza or bowl of last minute cereal it isn't repairing muscle, and cleaning up the debris from the day. If you must eat try 1/8 a cup of raw nuts which should satisfy your hunger but try and break the late night eating habit.
- If you don't fall right asleep get up. I've suffered from insomnia before and I fully empathize with the frustration of not being able to sleep and the feelings of anxiety laying there knowing you are going to be destroyed the next morning. If it happens now, which is rare, I just hop out of bed and read for a while on the sofa. Associating your bed with laying awake is a bad connection and worth breaking. Do some house cleaning, maybe prepare the pancake batter for tomorrow as a surprise for your family, but do something that doesn't involve electronics and wait for yourself to tire before returning to bed.
- Stop drinking caffeinated beverages past noon. I really don't need to explain this right?
Below I've done a little video talking about body image, in response to myself and some worry I had about people perceiving my previous video about "losing that last 10 pounds" negatively. It's my way of dealing with my own stress!