For years I browsed the internet and read books about how to sleep better and faster. Although I am still not the gold medal winner of sleepers, my sleep did improve. And now that I am aging I am more and more convinced it is very important to sleep deep and long enough.
One of the fears of a lot of aging people is to get dementia. It sure is one of my fears. My father, grandmother and an aunt had Alzheimer’s. One of the reasons people can get it is through sleep deprivation. My father has been in shift work for years. Of course nobody knows if this was the cause why he got the disease.
Alzheimer’s is believed not to be hereditary. So it is not said that I shall have it. But as you can understand I want to do everything in my power to prevent it actively.
This is what helps me
- No screens 1 hour before I go to sleep. This means no computer, no TV (not that I have one, but I could watch on my computer of course) and no mobile.
- Blocking blue light from the screens 2 hours before I go to bed. My iPhone is on ‘night shift’ and has a dark theme. For the bigger screens I use orange glasses.
- I drink coffee in the morning before 11 am.
- No eating after 5 pm. We eat breakfast and lunch as main meals. Late in the afternoon I usually grab a handful of nuts or some fruit.
- Half an hour before sleep I inhale lavender essential oil.
- Sometimes the oil is not enough and then I take some sleep supplements. I have listed a few over here.
- When I put out the light I listen to a meditation for 5 to 10 minutes. These are on an old phone that has no more sim card. My mobile stays out of the bedroom.
- Then I breathe 4-7-8, following the method of Dr. Andrew Weil. Breathe in 4 seconds through the nose, hold for 7 and breathe out forcefully through the mouth for 8 seconds.
- Whenever I catch myself wandering of with my thoughts or worrying, I visualize a pond where we used to walk around back in Holland.
- Oh, and the bedroom is very dark.
Whenever I make lists like this I am aware of how overwhelming this may sound for somebody else. As if I do nothing else but busying myself with trying to sleep.
Trust me, these activities are such a part of my life I hardly notice them anymore.
By the way, try listing all the things you do in a day. You will be amazed, I promise you. 🙂
Sleeping better at night starts when you get up
Snoozing and getting out of bed lazy gives the signal to your body the day hasn’t started yet. Even this early in the day you are setting yourself up for a better sleep by getting out of bed energetic. Smile to yourself in the mirror and drink a big glass of water.
Sleeping too fast means you’ve exhausted yourself
If you sleep the minute you lay your head on your pillow it usually means you’re too tired. Maybe you stayed up too late. Or you have done some strenuous activities.
Preferably you wake up without an alarm. If you train your body to sleep and get up at set times every day, also in the weekends, chances are high you’ll wake up without the need of an alarm.
If you don’t it’s better to go to sleep earlier than waking up later.
When I was a kid my mother always used to say that the hours before 12pm counted double. I didn’t agree back then (which child ever agrees with his parents when it comes to bedtime?), I do nowadays.
Biohacking tools are hot
Maybe you know that I am a gadget fan. Whenever there is a hot new gizmo I am very tempted to buy one.
One of those is the Oura ring. It’s a little computer around your finger that tracks your sleep and your activity. This appliance made me aware of my stages of sleep. And of the actual hours I sleep.
It turned out that my sleep diary from the past was quite accurate when it came to counting the hours. But I had no idea how those hours were divided in deep sleep, light sleep and REM sleep. Knowing this didn’t change my sleep, but it made me more aware of the relation between daily activities and sleep quality.
(Sttt, hot tip, when you consider buying this ring, subscribe to their newsletter first. Chances are high you’ll get an offer for a reduced price. At least I got one.)
Let it go when nothing helps
Don’t expect overnight miracles. You won’t be The Sleeping Beauty in a short period of time. Be patient.
But if after a few months nothing helps at all, you either can visit a doctor or a sleep clinic, or just accept you’re not a good sleeper. Worrying about your sleep won’t work in your favor.
My tips are not rocket science, so I do hope of course that your sleep improves. Like I said, I am not the best of sleepers to this day, but my sleep sure has improved. I am so happy with that!
Starting the day with a plan sets you up for the rest of the day, and for the night. Download our infographic!
What type of sleeper are you? Let us know in the comment box below.