2015-07-06 Falling asleep

A friend asked if I knew any tips for falling asleep in the evening:

  • Try to go to bed/wake up at the same time every day. As a rule of thumb: it takes at least one day for each hour you sleep late to correct the rhythm.
    Have a sleep-alarm in the evening telling you to go to sleep, instead of a wake-up alarm in the morning, – I have been doing this for some periods of my life, it works quite well, except when I fall asleep before the alarm, or am going somewhere in the evening.
  • Only use the bedroom for sleeping. This creates some anchoring between sleeping and being in bed.
  • Make your sleeping place dark, cool and silent/calm. We use light as a way to calibrate our sleeping rhythm. It is also good to have it slightly cold, and preferibly silent when going to sleep. You can also some sleep music that you anchor to sleeping, – I have some calm Bach cello music that I often play at sleeping time for me and my son, – it is nice to listen to, going into the music clears the thoughts, and as it is only played during sleeping time, the body and mind know that it means sleep now.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine, and other sleep affecting substances, especially in the evening/afternoon. The mind adjust to regular intake of caffeine, so it will not affect your long-term performance (except negatively while your body are used to it and you do not take it). If you are not used to it, coffee can also almost work as a drug, – if I drink strong coffe, I will not sleep for ca. 20 hours afterwards, but will have a sleep hangover the following day. Alchohol also has a bad effect on sleeping, – while you do fall asleep, you do not get into the deep sleep, and might wake up tired.
  • Avoid strong light, and computers, tablets, and smartphones, in the evening, – as the light tells your body that it is still day – especially blue/white light. I often deliberately turn down the general light at home, (or doesn’t turn it on) an hour before going to sleep. And I have a red bikelight, that I sometime use for light if I wake up in the night and need to go to the toilet etc., as this does not tell my body to wake up in the same way that the usual light would do.
  • If you have a lot of thoughts that keep you awake, it sometimes helps to make sure that they are written down.
  • Food and exercise also have a huge impact on sleep quality and ability. Having been active during the day, and neither hungry nor heavily digesting when going to to sleep should be optimal.

I got some of these information from an ebook about “40 sleep hacks” that I read long time ago, and other hints from random conversations with people.