Sleep Etiquette: Tips to get a good night’s sleep

January 9, 2011

It really frustrates me when I don’t get a good night’s sleep.  I realize that the nights I toss and turn for hours before dozing off are consequences of actions I’ve made during the day.  For example, I’ve learned through the hard way that any intake of caffeine beyond 4pm will almost always cause me to sleep later than my usual bedtime.  Additionally, any form of intense exercise past evening resulting in unusually higher levels of heartbeat will most definitely keep me awake for hours, sometimes until the sun rises!
 
Of course, these outcomes do vary between male and female, and will also vary across different levels of health and fitness conditions. However, even if you don’t encounter much difficulty in getting your shut-eye, it doesn’t hurt to check out your daily habits and routine once in a while to spot anything you can do to improve your general sleep wellness.  
Look into your daily habits to determine why you toss and turn all night

For a hectic and high-pressured professional like me, I’ve identified the following sleep etiquette to help put myself to bed.  These are my top four rules of thumb to get a good 8 to 10 hours rest:

Have a clean bed all to yourself

First things first, I find that the cleaner my bed is, the easier it is to sleep.  What I mean by clean is not only clean bed sheets but also clear of clothes, books, phone, laptop, and whatnot.  During busy days I actually find myself sharing my bed with my laptop and documents.  Being too tired to move these off of my bed, I fall asleep and wake up feeling sore because I slept in such a controlled manner (consciously not wanting to knock them off the bed during the night).  I know it sounds silly but it has happened to me a lot of times.  Remember: Beds are for sleeping only.

Tick-tock, goes your body clock

Second, I try to sleep and wake up at around the same time every day, regardless of it being a weekday or weekend/holiday. This helps regulate your body clock. It’s nice to indulge in a few more hours of sleep during non-workdays, but don’t go overboard because you’ll wake up feeling groggy and will have trouble sleeping during the night. Try to keep your waking and sleeping hours as regular as possible.

Take a few minutes to unwind 

Third, if I work late (which I do a lot) or if I’m in the middle of a big project, my mind continues to race even at night.  I distract the thoughts that keep me awake by doing something completely different.  I do some stretching, I read a magazine, and I relax my body and mind before I climb into bed. Try doing breathing exercises by closing your eyes and slowly breathing in and out for a few minutes to help clear your mind. 

 
 

Unwind with a cup of decaf tea or a glass of warm milk

Stay away from caffeine

Lastly, I refrain from drinking caffeinated or high sugar-concentrated beverages from late afternoon onwards.  I opt for herbal tea, warm water, and some nights, milk.  Also, if you drink too much water before you sleep you’ll find yourself waking up often throughout the night to go to the bathroom.  Interrupted sleep is worse than not much sleep, in my opinion.

 There are many other ways to get a good night’s sleep, and a lot of it depends on your lifestyle too, but these are what work best for me.  What are some of your tips? :)