Set an alarm on your phone for bedtime.
Yep- for bedtime! Choose a time that is 8 ½ hours before you need to wake up the next day. That will give you half an hour to unwind (ie, turn off electronics, take a bath, or read) before you fall asleep, and then allow time for eight delicious hours of sleep. Massive scientific evidence has shown us that people who usually sleep six hours a night have a 200% greater chance of having a stroke or a heart attack than those who sleep a full eight. They also have higher rates of hypertension, insulin resistance, Alzheimer’s disease, and atherosclerosis. Their incidence of cancer is 40% higher than people who sleep eight hours a night. And sleeping less than four hours a night causes you to eat 300 calories more per day, and increases your chance of a car accident by twelve times!
Drink caffeine only before noon
Caffeine is in your system longer than you think – the half life of caffeine is about 5 hours, which means that half of it is out of your system in five hours, and ¾ of it is gone in ten hours. And don’t be fooled by decaf…it should really be called “Locaf,” because it still contains about a quarter as much caffeine as regular coffee. Caffeine blocks adenosine, which is the chemical that makes you to feel sleepy…so it fools you into thinking that your body isn’t tired when it actually is.
Go to sleep completely sober
It takes your body about two hours to metabolize one drink (one glass of wine, one beer, or 1.5 shots of liquor). Alcohol anesthetizes the prefrontal cortex, which results in sleep fragmentation. That means that you will wake up several times in the night, even though you’re not consciously aware of it. As a result, you will feel exhausted the next day. Alcohol also powerfully suppresses REM sleep (dreaming), which is critical for memory and emotional healing.
If you can’t fall asleep, try yoga nidra
If you start to feel anxious about not falling asleep, stop looking at the clock and try yoga nidra. This is a guided meditation that you listen to while lying down, and my version uses modern neuroscience to help you sleep. Watch the video below for my yoga nidra recording.
Create a cool, dark, quiet bedroom
- The optimal temperature for sleeping is scientifically shown to be 65 degrees
- Eliminate all light, especially blue light from TV’s, computers, and phones
- If you can’t make your room quiet, then generate white noise with a machine or an app, or use earplugs
Go to bed at the same time every day
The suprachiasmatic nucleus in your brain will powerfully align everything in your body to make you feel more awake during the day and more sleepy at night… if you keep a regular sleep and wake cycle. The brain is a creature of habit, and when you do something over and over again the same way, those neural pathways strengthen anatomically. To deepen your body’s circadian rhythms, try getting about a half an hour of natural light in the morning. In addition, you can try melatonin 5-10 mg. The suprachiasmatic nucleus naturally releases melatonin around dusk to signal your body to commence the events of sleep.
Plan your day
- Exercise. A 2013 study by the National Sleep Foundation revealed that 83% of people who exercised during the day reported sleeping well at night, compared to those who did not exercise at all. This finding held true even for those who exercised late at night, contrary to conventional sleep wisdom.
- Have dinner a couple hours before bed. Large meals or excess fluid intake can interfere with your body’s ability to generate and maintain sleep.
- If you need a nap, be sure to take it by 3 pm so that it doesn’t interfere with your ability fall asleep.
Take meds that can cause insomnia in the morning
- SSRIs (ie, Prozac and Zoloft) used to treat depression and anxiety
- Dopamine agonists (ie, Mirapex, Ropinirole) used to treat Parkinson’s disease and Restless Legs
- Simulants (ie, Adderall, Ritalin) used to treat ADHD
- Some anticonvulsants (ie, Lamotrigine) used to treat seizures
- Decongestants (ie, Sudafed) used to treat colds or allergies
- Steroids (ie, Prednisone) used for autoimmune disorders and pain
- Beta agonists (ie, Albuterol) used to treat asthma or COPD
- Beta blockers (ie, Propranolol) or diuretics (ie, Lasix) used to treat hypertension
- Appetite suppressants (ie, Phentermine) used to treat obesity
- Niacin, which is used to treat high cholesterol