I’ve been obsessed with sleep over the past 5-6 years. Good sleep that is and how to get it. I have tried many things and then stumbled upon a book called Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep. In this book the author explores sleep research to gain insights on how people can learn to sleep better. It really opened my eyes to some fundamental facts about the science of sleep. Fact #1: the average nightly sleep cycle is broken into two 4 hr pieces not one continues period. If your eyes seem to spring open around 1-2 am every night, it is not because you have insomnia, it is because that is a natural phenomena of the human sleep cycle. Fact #2: the light bulb (or artificial light) is the single biggest technological barrier to a good night’s sleep.
Understanding these two fundamental facts of the human sleep cycle is the starting point to a great nights sleep. Now what did I do after I learned about these facts? First thing I did is when I wake up in the middle of the night I get up! That’s right, the best thing for me (and many other people) is to get out of bed. Walk around, eat a light snack, stretch, check the door locks, whatever. Then snuggle back into bed with a book or journal. 15-30 mins later turn off the light and I’m snoring like a baby. DON’T lie there in bed upset that you can’t go back to sleep. That is just the worst thing to do.
Number 2! When the sun starts to set, turn the lights off around the house. Artificial light messes with your natural circadian rhythms. To ensure you don’t bash your foot into a nearby table leg, buy cheap little sconces that plug into outlets to get around. The final note is no TV or computers 30 mins before you go to bed, that includes ipads. Artificial light really messes things up. Turn on a low light next to your bed and curl up with a book. You could also try some simple and effective relaxing body scan meditations.