You sleep 1/3 of your life, so this is a vital area to get right! Getting it right will lessen the amount of time needed. But the requirement is that you wake up fully revitalized!!!! You cannot afford the wasted time and energy and productivity declines and "not feeling good" from lack of proper, deep sleep. This is an absolute MUST to become an expert "practitioner" in!!!!! (It is repeated more than 20,000 times, with each wrong move multiplied by that number, but each right move also multiplied by that number.)
Print this checklist and assure that you have implemented (keep it by bedside for 30 days).
THE SLEEP CHECKLIST
Check these off every day for a week to make sure you are doing them.
___ I wake without an alarm and I feel fully refreshed (at least after my coffee). I know this is the indicator of my having the right amount of sleep (about 8 hours). [I do not impose some idea of "normal" sleep, as it is illogical and nonsensical to do anything that does not work to achieve my objective.]
___ I know that weight gain, substance abuse results from too little sleep. Too little sleep causes the need for stimulation on one hand (too feel more awake) and
calming on the other (because the brain is more frazzled easier) - so we eat more (lack of sleep was uniformly proven to relate to weight gain)
___ I know that lack of sufficient sleep lowers my mood and also feeling of well-being in life. I will not sacrifice my well-being.
___ I breathe deeply to activate my parasympathetic system to help the process of relaxation for sleep.
Timing and body rhythms
___ I go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time. I know that one significant deviation will throw my body off for days (and also make me feel unhappy and probably off on energy). The body prepares automatically for the shut down and the wake up process - throw them off a little and you are wasting energy and time! See Homeostasis. It is important, especially for poor sleepers, to set a specific regular bed and wake up time and to stick to it as if it were life or death (or at least a major determinant of the quality of life). [The cortisol levels start increasing before one awakens and for at least a half hour afterwards - which technically means a cup of coffee first thing in the morning might not be good timing.]
___ I exercise in the mornings as it is raises my metabolism and energy level (also for the day!) best for sleep and for setting the rhythms in place. Exercising within 7 hours before bedtime can disturb sleep. Exercising earlier can help create up to 75% more reparative deep sleep!
___ Fully dark room (or at least a sleep mask) - Exposure to ligh can reduce sleep 10 - 50%!.
___ Slightly cool temperature but comfortable (from 60-68 in winter up to what is comfortable in the summer, definitely not too hot, using fans to cool you - do not sleep hot!)
__ Keep body at comfortable temperature, avoiding too much heat or cold,
adjusting covers and comforters and night clothes accordingly
__ Comfortable sheets, winter to not get too cool, use "fleece/flannel" sheets ___ Comfortable, supportive bed and pillow that doesn't cause a crick in your neck.
To go to sleep initially or when not asleep in other parts of the night:
___ I use deep relaxation methods to be fully relaxed. [Audo if necessary]
___ I do not allow my thoughts to come in or be considered as anything to
relaxation that continues onward to keep thoughts out). Also Thought If normal relaxation (counting, relaxing parts of my body as I scan for tension, etc.) doesn't put me to sleep, I will tense each muscle group somewhat and then let go, which will cause me to automatically take a deep breath and drift off, probably before I go through all the groups. I also create little scenarios that distract me and have me drift down into sleepiness, using the idea behind Dreaming For Fun While Sleeping - Keep a list by the bed, and add to it as you think of ideas.
Prepare for sleep
___ I ramp down. At least a 1/2 hour (one is recommended) before bed prep for bed. Turn off or shield from blue light (causes wakefulness) from computer and TV. Turn off, or shield from, computers, TV, and all sources of blue light two hours before bedtime or wear blue light filtering lenses. See the specific apps, etc., to use in Tools And Resources For Better Sleep (And The Resulting Health Effects)
___ I read positive material before bed. (Keep this as a holy rule!) Keep a bookshelf of materials/books next to bed.
___ I do not allow negative news or violent or stimulating tv shows within 2-3 hours.
___ I drink no liquids for 3 hours before bed, especially if I have to awaken in the
___ Generate Melatonin. (See how to generate melatonin in the linked page. Factors: Sunlight (in the morning! or a light box), darkness, foods, drug inhibitors, blue light, etc.)
___ A hot bath before bedtime, facilitates the body cool down that causes one to
___ No exciting reading (and most people recommend not reading in bed at all, though I find easy types of reading a great way to slow down). Along similar lines, no TV an hour before bedtime.
___ Use the meditation and relaxation skills that put one close to the brain wave levels of sleep (as the transition is easier if you're right next to the sleep level!). Just "falling asleep", without relaxing, will leave tension in the body and body/mind disturbances that will impair your sleep.
___ Cut out bluelight (TVs, computers, some lighting) 2 hours before bed time - See Tools and resources below.
Honor body harmony and need for balance. I follow each of the following rules:
___ No high carb, sugary or fatty eating.
___ Don't eat later than three hours before bedtime (and at least three hours
if it is a big meal). Eat only on 9 inch plates. Body cannot rest if still
working on digesting food. Keep one's blood sugar stable, avoiding any
Eat more carbohydrates (but no high glycemic foods as those create sleep
problems) and almost no protein. But do eat a small complex carbohydrate
snack before bedtime, as it helps generate serotonin, which calms one.
___ Don't exercise at least 4 hours prior to bed (best to do it in the morning).
___ Do full exercise during the day, as it helps you sleep better.
___ No caffeine at least 5 (10 is best) hours before bedtime. Preferably almost
none during the day (drink decaf, which has a little caf).
___ No nicotine or alcohol within 5 hours of sleep.
___ Go to bed to maximize hours of dark before midnight, as it magnifies
beneficial sleep by up to double. (See Melatonin.)
Supplements I use the following if indicated.
___ Herbs that relax one (though they may not be proven): Valerian, chamomile, lavender, hops, and passion-flower.
___ Melatonin, if any difficulty falling asleep
___ Calcium magnesium an hour before bed.
___ Selenium (Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds)
___ Potassium may be helpful for those who have trouble staying asleep
___ Assure adequate D3 (to prevent excess day time sleepiness!)
___ Omega 3 (1000 to 5000 units) - Helps deepen sleep
___ Avoid sleep drugs if you can (but not sleeping enough is a high cost to avoid!)
Tools And Resources
__ High quality air ionizer
__ Plant in bedroom
___ Best book: Sleep Smarter (great chapter on sex...see the resources section of the book (except mattress) ___ Read, ignoring the "reduce sleep" objective, Sleeping Better And Less. Study the resources recommended, until you become sufficiently knowledgeable to master your sleep - but never put limiting sleep above the mandatory "getting enough sleep to feel wide awake and alert when you wake up".
Being awake "thinking" - As with the necessary general practice with all negative thoughts, tell yourself that you do not have to resolve anything while you sleep and that it is not very useful and that you'll deal with it when you're awake if it comes up. Knowing you are committed to dealing with issues thoroughly when they come up is comforting to the potentially worrying mind. If I know I will deal with it, I can then just relax and control my thought focus by simply watching my breath and letting the rhythm be deep and slow, and perhaps relaxing any "holding" in the body. Naps can make you function better, lower your blood pressure, and maybe even help you live longer. Avoid napping too late in the day. Limit them to 21 minutes.
Notes for possible inclusion later:
Don't sleep in to catch up, as it will throw off your rhythm for awakening and becoming alert - your body starts generateing norepinephrine two hours before the regular wake up time, so that you wll be alert for the day. Use bright light exposure (sunlight or the blue light).