5 Tips for Better Sleep

BY: Matthew Armstrong

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Ever tried to count sheep, think of nothing, or will yourself to pass out?  Have you ever burned more calories rolling over at night than from a workout?  Are you ever up the rest of the night after waking, even if you only slept a little bit?  If any of these experiences are familiar, you could probably use these 5 tips for better sleep.  You may also need a therapist to help.

Create the Ideal Sleep Environment

Your brain tracks where you are at any given time, and based on your location, your brain attempts to prepare your mind and your body for what you will need at that location.  For example, if you go to the gym, your brain quickly learns that the gym is a place of exercise, so it does things to prepare your body, such as increasing blood flow to your muscles, before you even touch a weight or step onto a machine!  For this reason, you must teach your brain that your bedroom is for sleep.  To accomplish this, sleep scientists recommend using your bedroom for nothing but sleep and sex.  This means no working, no worrying, and nothing mentally challenging in your bedroom.  This way your brain never amps up your thoughts or your heart rate when it is time to sleep.  It is recommended to remove as many electronics as possible, especially your laptop, and take all of your work and worrying somewhere else!  It is also very helpful to design an ambient environment like a beach or lake theme to really help your brain know what you will be doing there, which is sleep!

Prepare for Sleep

Your brain works on several frequency ranges throughout the day and night, ranging from very stressed to deep sleep, but it can’t jump from a high frequency range like stress to a low one like sleep.  It needs to shift one frequency at a time.  For this reason, it is important to begin to reduce your physical and mental activity gradually, beginning about 30-60 minutes before you intend to sleep.  Simply begin doing more relaxing activities and stop doing things like working and worrying.  It also helps to do things that help your body relax like a warm bath, a cup of milk, or a massage.  

Go to Bed Tired

It actually doesn’t help to go to bed before you’re tired.  This leads to time spent in bed with nothing happening, so your mind gets bored and begins to activate.  If this becomes a habit, your brain learns that bed is for thinking and being annoyed, and you don’t wan that.  It is much better to do relaxing things and simply let your body get tired.  You can’t force it.  Once you feel tired, feel free to head to bed.  If you find yourself in bed and not sleeping, just get up and go somewhere other than your bedroom, do something relaxing, and when you feel tired, then go back to bed.

Wake Up at the Same Time Every Morning

When trying to set a sleep schedule, most people do it backward.  They try to change the time they go to bed, but this only leads to the problems discussed in the previous paragraph.  The correct way to accomplish this is to regulate when you wake up.  By doing it this way, your body learns when to start shutting down, and you should begin to get tired at the right time.  For this to work, it is important to be consistent and give your body time to adjust.

Don’t Try to Sleep; let it Happen

As discussed earlier, you brain operates on many different frequencies.  When you try to do anything, you activate beta frequencies, which are the frequencies of the conscious mind, not the unconscious.  To fall asleep, the body first has to shift into alpha, which is relaxing, and the brain is not actively thinking or trying to do anything, and then into theta, which is dreaming, and then into delta, which is deep sleep.  Anytime you engage conscious thought, you activate beta frequencies and also your conscious brain, which is the opposite direction you want to go.  This means that you can’t try to sleep, you can only let it happen.  Your goal then is simply to allow the natural biology of your brain and body to work.  Instead of trying to stop thoughts, which only activates your brain, let your brain wonder freely.  If you are struggling with this last step, it may be time to see a therapist who can help you learn to do this.  Thanks for reading this article all the way through and happy sleeping!

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