If you are a follower, you probably know about my run-ins with a bandit called anxiety. I’ve been dealing with anxiety over the last 3 years, which has impacted a large part of my life, including my sleep. Sleep anxiety is this feeling of fear of falling asleep/staying asleep. I’ve spent hours on my bed, totally exhausted but unable to sleep cause I’m terrified. I’ve also gotten up mid-sleep in total panic. While working on curing my anxiety, I also wanted to take some active steps to ensure that I am not causing any impediments to my sleep cycle. I started making these changes slowly and noticed an observable difference in how well I slept (on some days). I am not a medical practitioner just another anxious adult, sharing their experiences in the hope that they might help someone out there. So what changes did I make?
I. SETTING A FIXED BEDTIME: I think a very important part of having a good sleep cycle is to have a fixed bedtime. As an entrepreneur, I often find myself working till late at night or writing my blogs late at night, or just using the quiet nighttime to binge-watch content – which has led to a poor sleep schedule. So for my experiment, I set my bedtime as 11PM with the hope that I’ll at least make it to bed by 12AM latest (I try to wake up at 6AM). It really helps to have a frame of time around which my mind knows to shut itself off.
II. NO COFFEE AFTER 6PM: I’ve been having coffee for 15 years now and in all honesty, coffee doesn’t have any real impact on me other than making me happy. But I decided to experiment with my coffee intake and restrict my coffee consumption after 6PM and surprisingly, it helped. How do I know? After a few days of following this, I did cave in on the day Starbucks launched its fall drinks to get my FAVOURITE pumpkin spice cold brew at 8:30PM – and I couldn’t sleep till 2AM. I only realised this 2 days later after a good night’s sleep.
III. EATING DINNER BY 9PM AND EATING LIGHT: I can literally vouch that eating a light dinner helps me sleep so much better just cause a week back I made this really heavy avocado smoothie for dinner and I couldn’t sleep till 2-3AM just cause I felt SO full. Ideally, I’d like to be done with dinner by 8PM but I usually make it home post work after 8PM. Finishing eating early and eating light gives my stomach some time to do its thing before I hit the bed and it has really helped me sleep better.
IV. NOT WATCHING NEW CONTENT NEAR BEDTIME: Any new content – good or bad – leaves my brain thinking about it for a while. So I avoid watching any new content near bedtime to let my brain not go into a frenzy of thinking.
V. LIGHTS OUT AT BEDTIME: I have started turning off my lights max by 11:30PM to ensure that I go to sleep by 12PM max. Switching off the lights has a way of signaling to the brain that it is time to shut down and relax.
I’ve been doing these 5 simple things for the last month or so and it has really helped me improve my sleep cycle considerably. I am going to keep experimenting and do other things to ensure a fixed sleep cycle, especially waking up on time. I am enjoying sleeping after a really long time and it has been difficult to wake up in the morning. The next goal is to get my waking up schedule fixed. I’ve been researching REM sleep cycles and experimenting with myself to figure out how to wake up feeling refreshed.
How do you ensure you get proper sleep? Have you ever struggled with sleeping problems? How did you deal with it?
PS: I am off my posting schedule again thanks to hectic few weeks at work. I’ll hopefully be back at it in a week or two.
If you haven’t already, check out my other recent posts: