I wonder what methods others use for ensuring good sleep? In particular I'm interested in what to focus on once in bed rather than preparing for sleep.
I have read preparing for sleep referred to as sleep hygiene before, which includes things such as not doing heavy exercise near bedtime and not being near bright lights (there are apps for phones and computers which dim the screen light when the sun goes down (or when you want it to), though turning computers off a while before bed would be better). Also, going to bed and getting up the same times each day is good.
Something I do right before bed is to read something not very interesting (so that it won't stimulate my mind) and then go to bed once my eyes start to close. Once in bed, a supposedly good tactic is to visualise a calming place in great detail in order to keep your mind from worrying about or thinking through things (which is more stimulating). I find it hard to keep my mind focused on visualisations so I've been trying counting in foreign languages which worked well for a while but not so well lately.
Another thing to do in order to prepare for sleep is to sort out everything that is worrying you before bedtime, so that you won't need to think about it, or you can at least make plans for what to do about things that are bothering you and write them down. I find this very helpful, as there is no need to worry about things when you have already decided the best course of action for them. Dale Carnegie's book 'How to Stop Worrying and Start Living' is a book I like that has more advice on managing worries.
I started to use the Calm app a while back (the free version) to help calm my mind and relax my body. It was only when I started doing it regularly I noticed how much tension I hold in my body.
Other than that I have taken Passion flower extract and Valerian root about an hour before bedtime. Routine also helps as you mention already, but sometimes I slip back into my poor nighttime routine, which means I end up going to bed too late.
I also don't use phones or computers and hour before bed as that tends to overstimulate me, but I have broken this rule if I an struggling to sleep as a result of thoughts whizzing round my mind. Reading is also another option, but again I have to be careful it doesn't overstimulate my mind or else I am up for hours reading or thinking about what I have read.
I am always open to hearing more techniques on helping sleep though as I am struggling a bit at present.
You said " ... I started to use the Calm app a while back (the free version) to help calm my mind and relax my body. ... ". Do you have a link to this, please?
The trick for me is to not focus on anything when I lay down to sleep. Lights out, close your eyes, blank your mind. I get up at 6am and go to bed at 10pm so that's a whole 8 hours of sleep, and by that time I'm tired anyway. I don't think about any tasks or jobs before going to bed, I just relax and get on with my bedtime routine (brush teeth etc) and by the time I flop into bed I'm ready for sleep. I don't use a smartphone so maybe this is the secret as I'm not constantly attuned to it pinging for my attention, and I don't think about jobs that need doing because it's too late to think about them anyway, I'm not going to start doing them right now!
Alopochen said:In particular I'm interested in what to focus on once in bed rather than preparing for sleep.
This is the crux of it for me - I don't focus on anything, that sounds like a brain activity and I would probably get lost in imagining a scene in lots of detail rather than switching off.
A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about a job I needed to do at work as I lay down onto the pillow, and this woke me up and I couldn't sleep for 4 hours. So I guess your mental state as you get ready for bed is key - for me, I just clear everything and don't think about anything, just a blank mind. Definitely clearing your mind of lists or outstanding jobs, just think you can sort them out tomorrow with a less sleepy mind. I drop off in under a minute.
I'm also really strict about my bedtime. I used to get into bed at maybe 10pm and then play games quietly until 1pm, but this year I've stopped doing that and I get much more sleep in. There's times to have quiet game-playing time, and bedtime isn't one of them.
Hope this is useful.
Good advice. Wish I could follow it.
I now try to get into bed before midnight. I switch all mobile phones OFF. When I wake up during the night. I try to sleep straight afterwords. Don't go watch TV or switch on mobile and check sites such as this one.
Hi Starbuck,I will have a look at the Calm app. Do those things you take help?I also sometimes fall out of the habit of going to bed early. I think this is because I set myself a lot to do each day and don't feel I can go to bed until I've done a lot of them at least. I'm trying to get everything done early so I can relax in the evening and go to bed early. I find that good habits are formed simply by forcing yourself to do the thing you have decided is worth doing; each time you do it makes it easier to do so next time.Regarding struggling to sleep due to thoughts, I mentioned ideas for this in my first post. Getting up and reading something not too interesting and then returning to bed when you can't focus on it any longer works well too, particularly if you have been in bed for a while (for example 20 minutes) and are frustrated at not being asleep yet. I have read that you shouldn't read in bed so that you only associate the bed with sleeping.