Regular sleep has been scientifically proven to not only help boost your mood, but your immune system, your cognitive abilities, your memory, and your interpersonal skills.
And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg! Sleeping resets us. It balances and maintains our ‘ebb and flow’ of life cycles. The longest humans can go without sleep is 11 days. They are barely human after four days though, and begin to grossly de-evolve even faster as the days go on. Improper and lack of sleep can literally kill you.
After one night of messed up sleep, your cognitive abilities drop considerably, and each day after that, you begin to act more like an impaired (under the influence of alcohol or drugs) person, and less like yourself.
Your mind becomes paranoid, and you’re more likely to react aggressively than understandingly if faced with a situation that you aren’t prepared for. Sleep changes us from the monsters we could be, to the people we want to be, and with proper, dedicated routine of adequate, comfortable sleep we are BETTER.
I know I’ve said this before, but if you have a varying sleep time (ie you work night shift), adjust the times you see to how they are in here – meaning if you are off work at 8 am, plan to be in bed by 1030am at the latest… that kind of thing.
Let’s look at (of course 10!) some ways you can help your sleep cycle:
- have a set time, every day, and stick to it as closely as possible.
if you are needing to be up at 7 am, adjust your sleep so you get the most you possibly can that is RIGHT for YOU. Some people function better on six hours, others on eight.
the idea that you HAVE to have eight hours of sleep is actually not as set in stone as people might believe.
I for instance oversleep if I have more than seven hours, and my mood (and everyone else) pays for it during the day. If I get less than five hours sleep, watch out, my bitchpixie switch can be flicked on and off easily.
you might have to test out what time frame works best for you.
during different seasons, you might require more/less, depending on the weather, temperature, etc.
- shut off the tech, at least 1/2 hr (if not more!), before you go to the bed.
if you have a Kindle/tablet to read with in bed, switch it to the night mode.
only read/write/colour/knit/crochet… in bed.
no doing your banking.
no labour-intensive things.
this is not the point to start making big vacation plans.
- have everything set out so that you don’t have to leave the bed again, other than to use the washroom
clean off your bed, so you only have SLEEP mode available when you go to bed.
- as much as you might like to, it’s not advisable to do exercises before bed, especially strenuous ones.
if you have the need to do something like this, stretching exercises should be the most you do. Cardio before bed can actually cause physical issues, so if you plan to do this, especially regularly, be sure you talk to your doctor about what specialised “night” exercises are best for you.
- don’t go to bed angry.
I realise this might seem like something you’ve been told a million times, but there is a very specific reason, or rather group of reasons why you don’t want to go to bed angry.
you’re not going to solve the problem in one moment, so don’t try
getting “the last word” isn’t worth the stress you’re going to cause yourself or the other person(s) involved.
stress itself is unhealthy to head to bed with, and we have enough of it in our daily lives, so we need to find ways to relieve the stress, rather than create and exacerbate more.
negativity wreaks havoc on your sleep cycle
shitty mood when you wake up
forcing yourself to see the negative and worst of your partner/friend/loved one, doesn’t help promote postivity, nor does it encourage a happy home life.
it literally agitates not just you, but others, including animals.
animals are very sensitive to arguments and fights, and will often feel the need to become protective of one person.
if this is a regular thing, your animal companions, as well as the other living creatures in your home – spouse, children, etc. – will all begin to distrust your motives and that will lead to a whole new host of issues.
animals who are less trusting, don’t get enough sleep either, as they are in cagey/defensive mode, and as such are more likely to act out.
simply put: your actions affect others. THINK about what you are doing, saying, and reacting. Don’t raise your voice, don’t threaten, and do not start shit, just to have your way.
you generally aren’t able to just ‘drift off’
- don’t start projects that require heavy amounts of thought
you need to be thinking about shutting down your brain, so starting something, even if it’s really fun, is going to be brain-intensive, and will be counter-productive to your sleep needs
- no more excessive talking.
end phone calls and don’t take new ones after a certain time (bearing emergencies obviously) every day.
let friends and loved ones know as of a set time from here on, no more phone calls. Ie after 9pm if bedtime is 1030pm
if someone has an emergency, obviously this supersedes this, but those again are not regular phone/skype/facetime/messenger chats – this is tech and as such, needs to be properly adhered to in the “no tech after a certain time” rule.
people who care about you will not only understand but will appreciate your desire to be healthier and more responsible with your time management.
you may just start inspiring others to be actively establishing their own healthy bedtime routines.
there’s no need to be actively communicating (aside from the small conversations that are not hugely mind-taxing – again, don’t start a chat about a heavy topic, especially knowing it could lead to a fight/argument.
- take care of all your setting things/ getting things/ bathroom things before coming to bed as much as possible. Once you’re in bed, you want to stay in bed.
set your alarm(s)
get your water
use the washroom
shower/bath (though you don’t want to be climbing into a luxurious bath 10 minutes before you head to bed – give yourself the time to do that if you are going to. Otherwise, just shower before bed if that’s what you need/want)
personal time (in whatever means you need to take care of things) and still relax before bed
pull out your clothes if you are going anywhere special the next day
- put things on ‘do not disturb’ mode
feed the animals, set up treats, make sure they are all comfy cozy and less likely to disturb you throughout the night
unless you have a super diva like we do, who no matter what, demands fresh running water at 2am and food at 445am -yup, we have spoiled cats- sometimes you don’t get to choose when you wake up during the night
set dvr/tape/etc movies/shows that will be coming on later after your new bedtime routine, and enjoy them as you get ready the next morning, or when you are free to watch them throughout the day
- be flexible enough to realise there are going to be last minute things that will crop up in this time – kids waking with nightmares, babies needing diaper changes, angry neighbours shouting at one another, parties that run late… be aware of the fact that you’re not always going to have exactly 956pm everything is nice and quiet and you’re able to read for an hour and silence and aaaah…
Of course there are going to be parts of this that you will be able to adjust and tweak toward your own life, as these are generalisations and meant to give you notions on how to improve your sleep cycle habits.
One special rule of thumb to keep in mind though:
If you are going to have a nap midway though your day (whenever that “day” happens to be), try not to do it within 8 hours of your actual bedtime. So, for instance, if you’re going to bed for 1030, no later than 130pm to start and wake by 230pm. You can and will do serious messing up of your sleep cycle otherwise. ((yes, if you’re sick, that beats out regular sleep anyway, hence the reason why it’s called “regular” sleep)) – And no over-napping… it might seem like a lovely idea to have a 2-3hr nap midday, but I guarantee you’re going to be really annoyed at yourself come the end of the day if you do screw up your sleep.
Remember that all good habits need a starting point of 3/12/28 – Three days to set the cycle, twelve to maintain it properly, and twenty-eight to make it a habit.