What’s the last thing you do before you fall asleep? Do you look at your phone? What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you look at your phone?
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit and pushed me to work from home, I had a wonderful, organized, efficient routine in the morning and before bed.
Now as I write this six months into working from my kitchen table, I’ll tell you that things aren’t quite as efficient as they were when I had to be at the office by 8 a.m.
My nighttime routine is still pretty intact. I’m in bed with a book in hand by 10:15/10:30 p.m. every night—that’s only 30 minutes off my original schedule. But my sleep and my mornings have been a struggle. I’ve been dealing with bouts of insomnia, and I have been sleeping in much later than I’d like to—most likely exacerbating my insomnia issues.
So I decided to read up on good sleep practices, especially tips to help stop insomnia issues. Here’s what I learned.
1. Less than seven hours of sleep nightly is considered inadequate.
According to Matthew Walker, author of “Why We Sleep,” you should try to get eight hours of sleep nightly.
2. Routine is key.
Every day, you should strive to wake up and go to sleep on the same schedule. Think 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., even on weekends. And this means getting out of bed at the same time every single day, not just waking up.
3. The quarter-life of caffeine is 12 hours.
That means that if you drink a cup of coffee at noon, then a quarter of that caffeine is still in your brain at midnight. The zero-life is somewhere between 24 and 36 hours, according to Walker.
4. Avoid alcohol before bed.
Alcohol is a sedative, and sedation is not sleep. It also makes you wake up more throughout the night, and it decreases your critical REM sleep, according to Walker.
5. Sleeping in will not help you feel better.
If you lose sleep throughout the week and try to sleep longer on the weekends, it doesn’t help you. A regular sleep routine is the only way to get high-quality sleep.
6. Keep your bedroom cool.
Your body temperature needs to drop about 2 degrees for you to fall asleep. You should aim for a room temperature of 67 to 68 degrees for optimal sleep.
7. Keep your bedroom dark.
In the last hour before sleep, stay away from screens and dim the lights.
8. Don’t lie in bed awake.
If you spend too much time awake in bed, your brain will start associating your bed with being awake. If you can’t fall asleep, get out of bed and do something else. Only return to bed when you are actually tired.
Now I see where my problems lie: too much caffeine too late in the day, not a consistent sleep schedule every single day and spending time scrolling on my phone every morning, reprogramming my brain to associate my bed with being awake. Now to put these tips to practice.