Getting enough quality sleep can make your brain function much better and you’ll be better at solving problems and feel more self control. In this video we’re gonna talk about how to train your brain to sleep well, and it’s called sleep hygiene.
So sleep is essential for good mental health. Lack of sleep can actually cause mental illness. Research is showing that one of the most effective ways to treat depression is by helping people improve the quality and the quantity of their sleep. One study of people with depression found that after resolving their insomnia 87% of them experienced major improvements in their depression. Their depression symptoms disappeared after eight weeks of good sleep. So, how do we improve our ability to get sleep?
We can train our brain to sleep better. Sleep hygiene means going through a routine that trains your brain and body to know when to sleep. So, like a muscle that strengthens with practice, sleeping well is a skill we can develop. Okay so because you’re trying to trigger the autonomic nervous system to start your sleep cycle it’s really important to use a routine. If you’ve ever tried to get a toddler to fall asleep you know how important it is to stick to a routine.
Adults aren’t too different. Remember our minds like Pavlov’s dogs they learn to associate sight smells and activities with these reflexive responses that are usually outside of our direct control. We can’t force ourselves to sleep but we can train our brain to know when to sleep. So, start by creating a wind down routine before bedtime that the brain associates with sleeping. To do this, you want to keep a consistent schedule whenever possible so try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day.
Dim the lights cool the temperature and decrease your stimulation. So for example, do quiet activities like reading a book or taking a bath because these help trigger calm. Don’t watch TV or exercise right before bed. Another thing you can do is have a routine for right before bed so for example in the evening you do a snack and you change into pajamas then you brush teeth and get into bed read a book pray and go to sleep. In addition to a routine there are some things you can do during the day that are going to improve your ability to fall asleep, and stay asleep.
Limit your naps during the day to less than 30 minutes. Cut out screen time before bed, so not only are devices like phones and tablets and TVs very stimulating and this triggers the alerting system in the brain but also the tone of the light emanated from your screen tends to have a bluish tint to it. And this is similar to the bluish light in the mornings so again this is a biological trigger to wake up. Research shows that blue toned lights tend to trigger alertness and a red or yellow toned lights tend to trigger calmness.
So if you must use your phone or tablet before bed check to see if it has a night shift setting.
This will shift your screen colors toward the red and yellow range. Next, turn your screen brightness down as low as possible and use the night setting for reading and this makes it so your text appears as white letters on a black background. So many programs have this option in their settings. Also put your phone on do not disturb mode while you’re sleeping and don’t check your work emails right before bed or read anything that could be stressful like the news or even your Facebook feed.
Another thing you want to do is take a look at your caffeine use.
Avoid caffeine for at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. Even one cup of coffee or tea even early in the morning that can affect your sleep for up to 48 hours. So, if you’re not sure of how caffeine is impacting you, you could try going off caffeine for one week. The first couple of days you might feel more tired and by day four you will probably start feeling better.
You’ll have better sleep you’ll have better energy and be more focused and you’ll most likely be waking up less at night and you’ll find it easier to fall asleep.
Within one week most people say I feel better off caffeine than on caffeine. They report better energy better mood and better sleep. Another thing you want to think about is limiting alcohol use. While some people believe that alcohol helps them sleep and it might help people fall asleep, alcohol interferes with your brain’s ability to sleep well and repair itself.
Especially during the second half of the night.
So that leaves you feeling more exhausted later. Another thing to think about is to avoid rich heavy or fatty foods before bedtime. Anything that might cause heartburn or indigestion can interfere with sleep. But so can hunger. So you could try a snack like a banana and peanut butter before bed.
A warm glass of milk before bed has also been shown in clinical studies to be as effective as many sleep medications. But a lot of people just don’t like the idea of drinking warm milk, you may want to try it. Exercise during the day can also greatly improve your ability to sleep so even 10 minutes of exercise can make a difference. Also, light and sound can trigger alertness. So use earplugs blackout curtains or eye masks to help cut out that extra stimuli.
Another thing you can try is a relaxation routine or meditation before bed, this is something like progressive muscle relaxation you could check out the video I made on that or you could listen to a guided imagery exercise. And again, as you’re trying to create associations for your brain to trigger that sleep response, you want to only use your bed for sleeping and sex. If your brain associates your bed with watching TV or working on your laptop eating paying bills and etc, your brain is gonna associate your bed with alertness not sleep. If you’re having a very hard time falling asleep or falling back asleep try getting up get out of bed and do something really boring like listening to a boring audio book, or the old documentary.
Don’t do anything too stimulating.
When I’m having a hard time sleeping I like to listen to this show called Time Team where a bunch of British archaeologists try and dig to find you know history. But it’s a pretty slow show and it helps me fall asleep. Okay I hope you found these tips helpful and if you liked this video check out my other video called insomnia antidote, where I teach one way to turn off worry and fall asleep.
Read More: Sleep Smarter | Sleeping Science, How to be Better at it, & Feel More Refreshed