“I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is a statement I dream about putting to bed (pardon the pun)!
How often have you heard this statement from colleagues, clients, neighbors or friends as they reach for another caffeine-laced concoction to get through the daily grind of their endless to-do list? The irony is, they just may get their wish.
Without listing a bunch of research you’ve probably read before and done nothing about, suffice it to say that it’s been shown that getting enough zzz’s can prolong your life, boost immunities, help you lose weight, improve memory, and stop you from becoming a nightmare to those you claim to love the most. This reminds me of another excuse I often hear from parents, “I’ll sleep when the kids are older.” Yes, let’s hold out until the kids are grown before we gift them with a happy, sane parent.
Even companies are getting into the act and taking a cue from cultures that respect the siesta. According to a WSJ post, an coveted office perk is a napping room to catch a quick 15 to 20-minute nod.
I bet all of us buy into the fact that sleep is vital, but why do so many of us continue to rob ourselves of this necessary pleasure? Here’s why: We try to fit too much into one day, can’t live up to our unrealistic expectations, and then can’t sleep because we’re too stressed we didn’t accomplish everything! Sound familiar?
Here’s what I found works for me.
1. Stop sooner. Just like a late person always does, “one more thing” before leaving, too many of us fall into this pattern before bed. Have a cut-off time and honor it. This especially applies to all perfectionists and control freaks (I’m still in recovery) who need things to look or be a certain way. Get therapy and get over it. If you need an incentive, take into account how much you’re annoying those who share your space.
2. Cut back on TV. In my opinion, having the ability to skip through commercials only encourages us to watch more programming. Why not program our brains for success and happiness rather than watch another’s drama? And zippo news before bed. C’mon, think about it. It’s nothing but negativity and only adds to your anxiety.
3. When you enter your bedroom, immediately place your phone face down on the nightstand. Absolutely no scrolling, texting or even touching until tomorrow’s alarm sounds.
4. Turn on soft music. Research shows that people who play calm, soft music for 45 minutes drift off sooner and sleep longer than those who go to bed in silence.
5. Write in a gratitude journal. I jot down 5 simple things, and when I don’t feel like writing I simply run through the list in my brain. Example: “I’m grateful we all sat down to dinner together tonight.” It’s a great way to end the day.
Still can’t sleep even though you’re too tired because you’re wired? James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D., professor of Psychology at the University of Texas in Austin recommends setting aside time each day for four days in a row to vent your feelings out on paper which will make you feel better and snooze more easily.
Just want someone to listen? In 1997, a San Francisco Web designed bought Tired.com which simply asks on the site: “Are you tired? Tell us why.” If you click on the question, you send site designer Mike Kuniavsky a personal email which he collects for reasons unknown. Perhaps it helps him sleep.
Are you sleeping enough for your success? Tell me your bedtime story.