You have no doubt read the normal tips about how to get better sleep. Collectively, these tips are often called sleep hygiene. The most common suggestions are: Limit caffeine, have a wind-down time, don’t use your bedroom for anything but sleep, don’t use devices before bed.
This is good. But what if those things are just too hard? Or what if you don’t or can’t do those things?
What To Do When Sleep Hygiene Is Too Difficult
If you have heard these recommendations before and didn’t follow them, here are some more achievable ideas. Start with one that you genuinely think is appealing to you.
1. Get a red light.
When you are ready to wind down, switch your lights to a low brightness and use a dark red bulb. Why red? This is the color that mimics sunset. Changing the color is a good visual cue. Your brain links this to getting ready for sleep. So it’s an easy thing to do for your wind-down routine.
2. Get bright sunlight in the mornings.
Light helps your circadian rhythms—which are the times you wake up and sleep naturally. Exposing yourself to bright light in the morning can change your rhythm to wake up earlier, without you having to go to bed earlier.
This pattern then becomes self-perpetuating. The earlier you feel sleepy, the earlier you will wake up, and the more interested you will be in doing a morning walk.
3. Focus on an earlier time in your evening.
Instead of focusing on your pre-bed routine, think about a time earlier in your evening. For example, getting your children to sleep. Try to create a better routine for this earlier evening. Many people have to have a few hours of relaxation between their responsibilities and going to bed.
4. Switch your caffeinated beverage to no caf.
The way to get the absolute best sleep would be to drink no caffeine or alcohol. Both can disrupt your sleep. If you want to sleep as deep as you did when you were a teenager, completely removing caffeine might get you there.
However, ask yourself, “What is the best thing I am willing to do?” Maybe you say, “I’m not going to change my caffeine drinking.” But maybe you could instead drink a caffeine-free soda as your last soda of the night. Or, you could try a decaf coffee as your last coffee in the morning or afternoon.
Author: Scott Dowdy