Today was my first day to work after the holiday break. I wanted to hit the bed early last night so that I don’t start the New Year waking up late for work. I had finished all my chores a little earlier than planned so I decided to read a few chapters from a book on my kindle (which was a bad idea). Ironically the chapter I was reading was about how to sleep well, and contrary to what I did, the book had advised not to do any brain engaging activity 2-3hrs before sleep which means no reading, no internet, no watching TV etc.
After reading a few chapters I finally decided to sleep but I couldn’t sleep. All throughout the night, although I was sleeping my mind was awake. I kept tossing and turning and I knew I that my mind kept thinking of something. I can’t remember now what exactly my mind was thinking but I do remember that I was worried of not being able to sleep and that worry made me not sleep even more. At one point I just felt like getting up and doing something else but something told me to keep trying until the alarm rings. Finally it was 6.15am when my alarm started ringing and I was glad to be finally able to get out of my bed.
Although I did not feel tired during the day but I still kept wondering why I couldn’t sleep. Perhaps part of the problem was because of me reading my kindle just before I went to bed, as the light on the tablet computers can send signals to the brain to remain alert instead of preparing to sleep. But I guess the bigger problem here was the anxiety that my brain went through. This is not the first time that something like this has happened to me. It often happens that when I am anxious about the events that is going to happen the following day or when I feel the need to wake up earlier the next day, my brain doesn’t let me sleep well. I had this road trip planned a few weeks back and I was planning to start by 5am in the morning and the urge to wake up earlier than usual made me not sleep well. Same thing happened when I had an interview the next day, I was so anxious that I couldn’t sleep all night.
Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time. Short-term anxiety can be useful. Feeling nervous before an exam can make you feel more alert, and enhance your performance. However, if the feelings of anxiety overwhelm you, your ability to concentrate and do well may suffer. After a while, people can start to fear the symptoms of anxiety, especially feeling out of control. This sets up a vicious circle. They feel anxious because they dread feeling the symptoms of anxiety, and then they experience those symptoms because they are having anxious thoughts.
Here are a few ideas that can make you sleep soundly. Although for serious problems you should consult a physician.
1. Finish dinner by 8pm.
2. Take a warm shower in the evening if possible.
3. Regular exercise will help you sleep better too.
4. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
5. Avoid stimulants like coffee, chocolate, and nicotine before going to sleep, and never watch TV, use the computer, or pay bills before going to bed. Read a book, listen to soft music, or meditate instead.
6. Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable.
7. Use your bedroom as a bedroom, not for watching TV or doing work, and get into bed only when you are tired. If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, go to another room and do something relaxing.
8. Avoid looking at the clock. This can make you anxious in the middle of the night. Turn the clock away from you.
For all those sleep deprived people out there including me, I hope this helps in preparing you for a goodnights sleep. 99.