Sleep not only serves for your mind to go through the day’s experiences, pressures and joyful moments to deal with them and get you refreshed mentally, but also helps your body recuperate from the demands exerted on it during the day.
Sometimes the lack of sleep is the result of badly organised working days, or maybe it’s a question of having taken on too much, be it of your own accord or pushed upon you by a superior in the hierarchy. It could simply be noisy surroundings, a little annoying noise or regularly partying neighbours. You may need to confront whoever or whatever problem is the cause of your lack of sleep. That could be something on the outside, but it could be an internal process that you have to get under control.
However, I believe there is one area that you have full control over: understanding that you cannot just keep working to the last minute, drop everything, go to bed and expect to fall asleep right away. Of course that won’t work: your mind is still racing over the last thing you did before lying down. You have to ensure a gradual transition from the active mind state to a manner of being that is much more passive, both physically and mentally. Here are three tips to get your started:
Respect your timetable
First of all, find out how much sleep YOU need. Usually it will be something between 7.5 and 8.5 hours for a healthy adult. Everyone is different and you’ll easily find out if you go to be early for a couple of days and measure how much time has passed until you wake up on your own. Use this length of time as your measurement – you can always adjust if you find that you shift into a slightly shorter or longer period of sleep.
Once you have found out, make sure you go to sleep in time to actually be able to sleep this long. If your alarm always goes off when you are in a deep sleep cycle you’ll be dead tired for sure.
There is nothing better to make you sleep more deeply than physical exercise. I’m not one to advertise going to the gym (although that is one of the most intense ways to exercise), but any activity that really engages your body, be it yoga, cycling, swimming, etc. is good practice. Don’t discount other, less intense, activities either: dancing while you wash your dishes or roughhousing with your dog can be as exhausting and much more joyful in the long run.
The most important thing to ensure a proper night’s sleep is simple: turn off your internal broadcast a good while before you intend to fall asleep. One of the best ways to do this is to find little ways to easy your mind and body from your active phase into a mind space that is a lot more passive.
Rule number 1: step away from your electronic devices! It has been proven that most monitors emitting blue-ish light will keep your mind active, quite aside from the constant call to action and short attention span these devices bring us.
Rule number 2: slow down. By all means, do things you like to do: meditate for a couple of minutes, read a book or magazine for half an hour, have a conversation with your partner or have a nice cup of herbal tea and dream away looking out of the window. Anything that takes your mind away from the stresses of the day, and onto the calm seas of the imagination.
Rituals become more powerful the more you practice them. Doing something once, or doing the same thing but not regularly will not get you far. Being consistent, changing the habits surrounding your shut-down process in the evening – maybe with the involvement of the other family members? – could just be the ticket for you!
Thanks to Germana Chiricò of Organizzare Italia for inspiring me to write this.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.