I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a “good night’s sleep.” Sure, I’ve slept for 16 hour stretches after letting both ends burn until I’m practically hallucinating, but I’ve never been the kind of person that could yawn, stretch and say “10 o’clock already? It’s time for me to go to bed” and then sleep for 8 hours like some sort of wizard.
Since a sleepless childhood and adolescence, I’ve been urged by medical and psychiatric professionals to practice what they refer to as good sleep hygiene–a few habits that would enable me to sleep like a person and not like a gremlin that was fed after midnight. Obviously, even though I’ve complained incessantly about and suffered because of my lack of sleep, I’ve never even come close to testing out good sleep hygiene in a real way. BUT I’m thinking about starting to practice it religiously.
Here are the 10 Commandments of Good Sleep Hygiene.
- Thou shalt keep stimulating distractions out of the bed. Your bed should be a sleep-cloud free from glowing screens, music, and anything but sleep.
- Thou shalt avoid large meals before bed for they can disrupt sleep patterns. Now is not the time to experiment with flavors and spices you’re not used to either.
- Thou shalt avoid stimulants close to bedtime for they can interfere with sleep. Caffeine, nicotine and the like might keep you up.
- Thou shalt develop a soothing bedtime routine. Stretch, read, meditate, listen to smooth jazz–whatever it is that cools your jets.
- Thou shalt honor vigorous exercise in the morning and relaxing exercise at night.
- Thou shalt not nap.
- Thou shall make the bedroom a sleep temple. Make sure that your room is conducive to good sleep. Your sheets, the temperature and the lighting situation should all be comfy.
- Thou must sleep when tired. Do not push wakefulness if sleep is an option, conversely if you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes or so, get out of bed and do something restful until you’re tired enough to drift off.
- Thou shalt not avoid natural light, for it will set your internal clock. Open your curtains in the morning, try to get some sun in general.
- Thou shalt not give up right away. If good sleep hygiene rituals don’t work right off the bat, keep trying and you might be rewarded handsomely with peaceful sleeps.
I’d like to say that I’m super serious about changing my ways, but who am I kidding? I’ll probably keep myself up all night thinking about all the relaxing things I could be doing and beating myself up for the troubling amount of coffee I’ve consumed today.