You’ve heard it, gone through the list, talked about it, but do these things actually work?

I’ve had trouble sleeping since I was a little kid. I didn’t drink caffeine then, or eat spicy food. I was always outdoors and exercised all day. Yet these are the things that I keep reading over and over again as an adult, in my search for a Good Night’s Sleep.

Let’s just recap, quickly, what this list is:

  • Don’t drink caffeine too close to bedtime.

Of course, that makes sense. And I usually don’t, so that’s not really helpful.

  • Drink a glass of water before bedtime.

I do that. Still, not helpful.

  • Go for a walk.

Makes sense. Getting a little exercise is supposed to be helpful, but I’ve done this, as well, and… meh.

Other advice includes not eating spicy food before bedtime, not watching t.v. or staring at the computer; being outside during sunset because the light quality and your eyesight and internal…. something, something, something.

 

All I know is that everything I have ever tried doesn’t work… except the following! The following steps I take actually help me sleep. It’s a combination of environmental preparation and mental preparation. Here is what I do to get a good night’s sleep regardless of how much caffeine I’ve had to drink, how long I’ve stared at the computer, etc.

  1. Black out the windows – I can’t stress enough the importance of having a dark room to sleep in. I realized this after living in a house with thick blackout curtains over the patio doors. I had just moved from an apartment where the light shown through like living right next to the sun. It was unbearably bright and impossible to get a solid night’s sleep. But you don’t have to buy thick blackout curtains to get the same effect. Tin foil or cardboard taped over the windows is also effective – and cheaper! If you have a landlord that complains, use white foam board or anything that is decorative or somewhat invisible while also canceling out the light.
  2. Heavy Comforter – This won’t work so great if you are a heavy sweater, but it helps me feel weighted down having a few layers of bedding, including a quilt blanket to top it off!
  3. Pretend it’s Sunday morning – I lay down, close my eyes, and pretend it’s Sunday morning and I don’t have to get out of bed. This act actually gets me in sleep mode. By thinking that it’s Sunday morning and projecting myself in my bed in the early morning via my imagination, I am mentally and physically being in the moment in my bed. I can feel my body communicating with my pillow, my bed sheets. It tricks me into the moment by projecting myself into the future. It’s the full day of mental activity that makes it difficult to unwind. Close your eyes and let your mind drift to the next morning. Being in bed is so comfortable! As soon as I think it, I don’t want to get out of bed!

Mental tricks are a great way to accomplish many things. For awhile I used breathing exercises to turn my brain off, but it didn’t work long term. And I really don’t like the word “trick” but it is kind of what I’m doing. I’m playing a mental game that helps me accomplish my goal. And isn’t that really what we all do every single day? For me, maybe it goes back to grade school stories read by the teacher starring a motherly character who coaxes a little girl into cleaning her room by making her imagine she is locked in a tower and an evil witch is going to turn her into a whatever if her room isn’t clean within a certain period of time. I don’t know, and honestly, I don’t care. I know it works. But also, maybe the real “trick” is that it’s highly personal. What works for me may not work for someone else. Maybe you have to work on Sunday and your “Sunday” is Tuesday morning. It only matters if it helps.