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Top Sleep Tips

By the title of this blog post it may not be surprising to know that it is currently 12:15am and I have been lying in bed for an hour and a half and I can’t fall asleep! So, instead of thinking about moving house (we move this Friday!) and business and blog posts, I thought I would just get up and write one. About sleep. Or lack of sleep.

I have a few personal strategies for trying to fall asleep:

(a) I just allow myself to think about whatever I am thinking about, and hopefully my brain will get bored enough and turn off.

(b) I lay there and come up with story ideas. One of my personal goals is to write a novel (I think this may possibly be every 2nd person’s goal in life, but I’m going to stick with it). I love thinking up stories and plots and characters, and in particularly names for characters. So I do this while I am trying to fall asleep, and usually, I do actually fall asleep.

(c) My final strategy is to forget about falling asleep and get up and do something….hence why I am writing this post.

Sleeping Like A Baby

As the mother of a 1-year-old, I reflect on the last 12+ months and realise that in fact a large portion of my conversations have been focused on sleep. Unfortunately they have been focused on the sleep of my baby, except for the first 1 or 2 months where it was occasionally encouraged that I sleep when the baby slept which I fully embraced. It seems once they reach 3 to 4 months of age, this advice is seldom uttered, and when they reach 1 year of age this concept is unheard of and all conversations return solely to the sleep of the baby. Baby sleep conversations consist of talking about how much sleep the baby got the night before, how many times they sleep during the day, are they napping, are they sleeping with a wrap or a sleeping bag, how do they find sleeping in a cot……….you get the gist. The irony is, in the first year as a parent you are let into the great parenting secret that the phrase ‘Sleeping Like A Baby’ means the exact opposite to what you are led to believe when you don’t have a baby of your own!

Coffee, Weather or Business?

In all this talk about my baby’s sleep, I realise I haven’t often considered my own sleep, nor do I have any real strategies (outside of those listed above) for helping me get to sleep when I simply can’t. This scenario of not sleeping and finally getting up in the early hours of the morning has happened to me numerous times in the last few weeks, and as is my nature, I’ve decided to solve the problem.

I cannot work out if it is just a coincidence that I am having difficulty sleeping AND that we got ourselves a coffee machine for Christmas. Thus I am now quite the barista at home, churning out coffees for anyone who accepts my ‘would you like a coffee?’ request as soon as they walk in the door. However, as I know that coffee does keep me awake (discovered during an incident at school where we were handed multiple cartons of free iced coffee and I had no sleep that night), I have limited myself to two coffees a day, and try to have my second before 3pm, earlier if possible. It seems therefore unlikely to me that coffee is the cause of my sleep deprivation.

We are also in the midst of a hot Australian summer, so I was using the heat and humidity as my excuse last week. It was probably fair enough then, but today has been particularly cool and, as my mum would say, “perfect sleeping weather.” Therefore, the weather is yet another unlikely cause for my lack of sleep.

The third option is that I have a New Year Enthusiasm Brain Overload Disorder or NYEBOD as I like to call it. Yes, after a turbulent 2011, I was certainly ready for the clock to tick over to January 1st 2012 and it seems my brain was too. I am focused and motivated about the business, reading books and blog posts and articles and e-books on a whole variety of things. I have 101 ideas on what we can do to develop and grow the business, and I am really excited about the year ahead. Tonight I was reading various blog posts on my iPad in bed, before turning out the light. Ideas were churning through my brain, and, as is now evident, I had difficulty switching off, shutting down, logging off. Please note that I traditionally take a book, usually a fiction book, to bed and find myself nodding off quite easily. So, was it the ideas that kept me up, or the fact that I had chosen to read my iPad in bed in the first place?

Seeking The Advice of Others

When in doubt, Google.

And do you know what, I only had to start typing in ‘tips for’ and the fourth Google search suggestion was ‘tips for falling asleep’. It appears I am not the only one suffering!

(If you were wondering, the top 3 Google search suggestions were ‘tips for getting pregnant’, ‘tips for interviews’ and ‘tips for running’. ‘Tips for losing weight’ surprisingly came in at number 6!)

So, I click on ‘tips for falling asleep’ and am obviously bombarded with pages of suggestions. However, I could also choose to narrow my search down. ‘Tips on falling asleep quickly’, ‘Tips for falling back asleep’ or ‘Tips insomnia falling asleep’. What to do? What to do?

Then I spotted ’10 Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep Without Pills’, saw it was from www.lifehack.org one of my go-to sites, and clicked.

The 10 Tips

Ironically, the first thing I am confronted with is a picture of a gorgeous, sleeping baby!! I am feeling a little less positive at this stage however, I did continue reading.

Here are the 10 tips along with my running commentary:

  1. Stick to a schedule – this is something I used to do pre-baby. Every night I was in bed at 9:30pm, if not before, and my eye lids would get heavier and heavier if I let myself go past this time. However, with a baby, I got in the habit of taking ‘me time’ in the evening when she was finally down for the night, and my sleeping patterns are now quite out of whack.
  2. Sleep only at night – obviously with a new baby you do get into the habit of taking naps when you can, predominantly during the day. However, as my baby is now nearly walking, I can safely say that my day-time napping is few and far between.
  3. Exercise – I am sure if I reflected back over the last few weeks I would detect a pattern of easy sleeping matched with the days that I have gone walking. I am going to track this further and ensure I am exercising more regularly.
  4. Taking a hot shower or bath – Aha! I used to have a bath nearly every, single night. They are my special treat, but I have let them go, particularly in the last few months. I am not sure why, but it looks like I need to actively include them in my evening routine once again.
  5. Avoid eating just before bed – Thankfully this is a habit I have virtually kicked, thanks to Oprah and Dr Oz.
  6. Avoid caffeine – I have addressed my current barista role-playing above. Thus, a little experimenting may be required, and possibly (gasp) only one coffee a day!
  7. Read a fiction book – Yes, as previously mentioned I was a big fiction-before-sleep reader but have let this go for a number of reasons. It looks like I will have to head off to the book shop and pick up a few books! Those who know me realise that this will not be a struggle at all, aside from the actual choosing of said books among shelves and shelves of the amazing things (I switch off for a moment in a book shop daydream…..) *NB I am assuming they mean a physical book as opposed to an e-book on my iPad. I would be interested to know if there is any information out there regarding sleep and reading on electronic devices but I will save this for another time.
  8. Have the room slightly cooler – This strategy is something my mum and sister swear by, and something that I used to dismiss out of hand. I have chopped and changed over recent times, but will try leaving the window open slightly and see if this helps.
  9. Sleep in silence – this is never a problem for me, except for snoring that may occasionally emanate from the other side of the bed but this can usually be rectified with a good, strong push!
  10. Avoid alcohol before bedtime – I am one to enjoy a glass of red wine of an evening, but as I have cut this down lately, I can almost completely eliminate this as a factor.

Thank you Google & Kavit Haria, the blog author, for those great tips! I see immediately that I can start implementing tips 1, 4, 7 & 8, and experiment with tips 3 & 6.

Do you have any more tips?

These 10 tips seemed to have covered most of what I consider to be the common sleep tips (and perhaps they are common because they actually work). However, I wonder if you have any other tips, or examples of what does & doesn’t work for you? I personally would greatly appreciate them, and if Google searching is anything to go by, so would a great many others!

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  • I can’t offer any very enlightening tips as I seem to generally be able to fall asleep whenever I feel like it these days (obviously, mine is a baby-free household!)

    However, I do tend to find that, like you, the times when I can’t sleep are when my mind is ticking over and I am really enthusiastic about ideas.  I keep having to turn on the bedside lamp and write them down so I don’t forget them.

    Depending on what I have to do the next day, most of the time I see this as a positive thing.  I’d much rather be enthusiastic and excited about my work and get it done while I am.  Otherwise, it might take twice as long the next day when I lose that enthusiasm… or can’t remember my train of thought!

    My best tip is probably just to work hard & make sure you tire yourself out during the day.  It seems to work for me!

  • I do like your idea about wearing yourself out during the day! I also used to be big on getting up and working when I couldn’t sleep, although this was pre-baby and (1) didn’t happen very often and (2) I could often catch up on sleep the next day. I did however follow my points (above) last night and had a much better sleep. Lets hope it continues! Any more tips anyone?

  • Carly

    Haha. It’s 4:41am right now and I have not slept. This is quite uncommon for me, but I got swept up in a bit of enthusiasm too. And decided just to roll with it and hope I’m not too tired tomorrow! I have heard two separate stories recently of people going for 3 days without sleep and without it ‘catching up with them’ because they were so synced in with life – a swimmer during an important competition and Beyonce during the shooting of a video clip. However, I am yet to experience feeling ‘normal’ the next day after an ‘inspired late nighter’.

    And yeah, I remember a uni tutor telling me how the use of TVs, game consoles, mobile phones, computers (iPads weren’t invented), as well as music being played in teenagers’ rooms at night were all negatively associated with falling asleep, whereas reading a book was positively associated. I think it’s because electronic stuff is more externally stimulating. Part of it could also be to do with the fact that sticking lights in front of your eyes at night is a proven method to delay your sleep-wake cycle.

    I’m going to take this iPhone out of my face now and go to sleep. What do I do if that doesn’t work? Drink wine!? 🙂

  • I like the idea of idea of being so in sync with life that missed sleep hasn’t had a negative affect on them. I would like to read more about this. But I do certainly think reading on the iPad, and also reading stimulating, thought provoking books before bed just doesn’t work for me. I have started reading fiction books, having a bath and relaxing before going to bed. These have been the biggest changes for me. Plus monitoring my coffee intake. The novelty of the coffee machine hasn’t worn off yet though!