I woke up this morning and realized that I have actually been sleeping really well for the last couple weeks.  This may not seem like an achievement for many of you, but I have struggled with insomnia ever since I hit puberty way back when.  Add to that the bubbling mass of stress (good stress, but still) associated with leaving a job and moving 1500 miles, and its a wonder I can sleep at all.  Yet lately, I have been.

It has been at least a year now since I have had a major issue with insomnia.  There will always be nights where you can’t sleep for one reason or another, but I have learned the steps necessary to keep my sleep patterns as solid as possible.  Since many of my friends complain regularly about being tired or unable to sleep, I will share some of the tips I have learned that can help.

No TV-

Why anyone would have a TV in the bedroom is simply beyond me.  TV is a waste of time in general, and certainly isn’t what I would introduce into the bedroom specifically.  If you have one in there thought, don’t watch it right before bed.  Even more, don’t try to sleep with it on.  Watching TV may turn us into shuffling zombies in body, but it keeps parts of your mind moving that are counter to sleep.  It will keep you from letting your mind relax in the proper way, and cause crappy sleep patterns.

No Lights –

You would think this would be obvious, as we almost all turn off the lights to go to bed.  Yet most of us don’t take it far enough.  Our skin is an organ, and capable of sensing light.  So not only do we need to turn off lamps and overhead lights, but consider dimming your alarm clock, and the LEDs on your cell phone.  In a dark room, they could put out enough light to keep telling your body its time to get up.  I can speak to this one first hand.  For a year or so we had a dusk till dawn light up front of our house, and it would shine into our bedroom at night.  I don’t think my wife got a good night sleep the entire time we had that thing on.

No Caffeine after 4pm –

Of all my rules, this probably has the most flexibility to it.  I have had coffee in the evening, and it doesn’t keep me awake.  Now that may be because I drink organic coffee, and it doesn’t give me the jitters, but that’s my experience.  This is the one I know my friends break the most.  I get to listen to them whine about not sleeping, and you know they have been sucking down on pop the entire night, if not a red bull or something equally dumb.  This will keep you awake if you push it with processed caffeine.  Not only will it keep you awake, but it will be the worst night of your life.  Nothing is worse than laying in the dark staring at the ceiling with your heart racing. I have been there.

Don’t just lay down and try to sleep –

When you were a kid, did you parents just grab you from where you were playing and toss you into bed and say “Good night”?  No.  They gave you a bath, put on your pyjamas, read you a story, tucked you in, and turned off the lights.  Now why did they do that?  Obviously they enjoyed spending time with you, but just as important, that routine tells your brain its time to sleep.  You didn’t think that changed as an adult did you?  Build up a routine each night of about a half hour or so, it will tell your brain its time to sleep.  Jenn and I lay in bed and read together.  Its great quality time with your spouse, and helps both of us sleep better.

Take supplements, not chemicals-

If you can’t sleep, doctors will hook you up with some poisons to help knock you out, but they are nasty and dangerous.  Try some natural supplements.sleep2

This is the brand that I take myself.  I take two a night, and they help immensely.  I respond best to herbal mixes that feature hopps as the primary ingredient.  I learned this by experimentation, you will probably have to do that too.  I used to take just straight melatonin, and it helped a little, but not as much.  Find out what works for you.  There are no side effects to an herbal solution, and they are generally cheap, so try till you get it right.

You can’t put a value on a good night sleep, especially if you haven’t had one in awhile.  So make some changes today that allow you to get one.  Nothing de-stresses your life, like a good 8 hours at night.  You will feel human again.