Fun fact: I was asleep for approximately 70% of the duration of my M.Sc. program in Cyprus!
No, for real! I was asleep for the most of my masters program abroad and there were times when the sound of my snore would wake me up. My days were grumpy, my brain was often asleep and I was like a vegetable most of the time. I could hear people talking but I couldn’t make sense of their speech. I could see their lips moving but my brain could not process what they were saying. Nor could I make meanings of the words that came out of their mouths… it was that bad for me!
One day during a lecture on Machine Learning, someone tapped me saying “Okie! You’re snoring!!” That was the turning point for me, and I told myself… that’s it! Since then, which was sometime in early 2013, I decided to take my sleep life serious. Chances are that you’re also trying to fix your “sleep life”, and that’s what lead you to this page. So keep reading, I believe I can help.
My motivation was a good friend (Emi) who said she always went to bed at 10 PM, not matter what! The first time I heard her say so, I had questions about how possible that was. But after the snoring incident in 2013, I took it up as a challenge and she was my motivation. If Emi (who has one head, by the way) can do it, then so can Kheme! And so can you, too!
Now down to the real stuff. At the beginning of 2015 I joined the “Sleep At 10 PM” goal on coach.me, and someone asked if it was possible to go to bed at 10 PM daily. I shared 3 tips on how I have been doing so successfully, and people seemed to find my tips helpful. So for those who want the same result, I have decided to expand on those points here.
1. Bedtime Alarm/Reminder
I believe one of the reasons you want to sleep at the same time everyday is so that you can wake up at the same time everyday. My own goal was to wake up between 5 AM and 6 AM daily. If you have a similar goal too, that means you have to get to bed at the same time everyday. The secret to success is routine.
So one of the first things I did was to set a reminder, to go to bed. Yes, I know how silly it sounds having a bed time as an adult. But if you’re still reading this article then you need help getting out of an even sillier situation. So, forget about how silly it sounds right now and after a while, you will be proud to tell people “yea, I have a bed time”.
“Bedtime” here means the time you get into bed, not the time you actually sleep. With time, you will know how long it takes you to fall asleep on a normal day. For me, I started recording my sleeps to track my snoring some time ago. Over time I came to realize that it took approximately 15 minutes for me to fall asleep on average. There are mobile apps that make it easy to track your sleep these days. Try one out to know how long it takes you to fall asleep.
Now commit to getting into bed at the same time everyday. Do not wait until you’re tired, exhausted or “feeling sleepy” before you get into bed… JUST DON’T!
Your phones, computers, TV, and similar devices… shut them all down! I usually put my phone next to me in bed, but on silent mode. I don’t watch TV before bed or while in bed (actually I don’t watch TV). Remember that things can (and will) always wait until tomorrow, so that email, text or whatever can wait until tomorrow. One reason most people can’t seem to fall asleep when in bed is because they you’re not even trying! How do you expect to fall asleep if you keep pressing your phone when you get into bed? How can you fall asleep by watching an action movie while snuggled into bed? Get my point? The bed has just 2 purposes (in my opinion): sex and sleep. We’re not talking about your sex life here, so just put away anything that doesn’t motivate or encourage you to sleep. That means no phones, tabs, laptops, DVD players, MP3/MP4 players, and so on.
If you are one of those people who need “the distraction” to sleep, then you pretty much don’t need my help anyway.
Well, yea! Next, you sleep! Let your thoughts be about sleep, and I mean it! But first, as you lay in bed just spend some time reflecting over the highlights of your day. Also think of one think to be grateful for. Why? Because it helps you sleep with a smile on your face, and sweet dreams too.
Then think of sleep! Some count sheep while others count from 100 backwards to 1. I usually just keep repeating “sleep” in my mind until my mind gets bored and the sleep takes over. No I’m serious, try it! Just keep repeating the word “sleep” until it loses meaning, your mind gets bored, and you eventually sleep off. One of the reasons people find it hard to sleep is because the keep their minds engaged. With movies, music, games, chat, text, etc. occupying your brain, how can you fall asleep?
If that fails
If that doesn’t work, try pretending to be asleep. How? Breath like someone who is fast asleep (you might need to watch people asleep to get it right lol). I happen to have studied sleeping people a lot, so I knew how people breath through the different stages of sleep. Sometimes, repeating “sleep” in my head doesn’t work. When it doesn’t, I just pretend to be asleep and before I know it and I’m asleep… wallah!
And if all else fails
There’s one more thing to try. Take a comfortable position and try to relax. Relax every single muscle in your body. Make sure there are no tensions in your muscles, joints or body. Next, in your current relaxed state, take slow but deep breaths, in and out. Focus your on your breathing, or just imagine the word “sleep” in your mind. Before you know it, you will be fast asleep.
If you follow these steps, you should be able to maintain a regular sleep time and then wake up at the same times of the day. If after trying this out and you still can’t sleep after an hour, then get out of bed and put your thoughts on paper. Whatever thoughts that may be running through your mind, you have to get them out. Express them somehow, by writing them, doing them or discussing them. After about 15 minutes or so your body should give you signals that it’s ready to attempt sleep again (don’t worry, you would know when it’s time). There after, try steps 1, 2 and 3 again.
After you try these steps, please come back again and tell others if it worked for you or not. You’re also welcome to comment on my so-called methods here. If you can improve on it, please tell us how in the comments section below 🙂