TOP 10 SLEEP TIPS
#10 KEEP YOUR BEDROOM DARK
#9 GET LOTS OF NATURAL LIGHT IN THE MORNING. Go for a walk or buy a lightbox. Light and dark are the external signals controlling your circadian system, colloquially called the “circadian clock." Darkness tells your body to get ready for sleep and this is signaled in the brain through the release of melatonin (a neurohormone). Light does the opposite. It tells your body it’s time to be awake and alert.
#8 DON’T WORK ON YOUR COMPUTER LATE AT NIGHT OR IF YOU DO GET AN APPLICATION LIKE “FLUX" TO MINIMIZE THE AMOUNT OF BRIGHT LIGHT YOUR EXPOSED TO. “Flux"controls your computer screen’s light output and tries to make it as natural as possible so that it mimics the actual time of day/night you are in; your computer screen will be brighter in the morning and dimmer at night.
#7 DON’T NAP DURING THE DAY. Sleep is linked to a homeostatic sleep drive. The longer you are awake, the more adenosine (a chemical metabolite) builds up in your body. The accumulation of adenosine correlates with the strength of your sleep drive, that’s why if you’ve been up for 24 hours straight you almost inevitably feel your eyelids becoming too heavy to lift up, and it’s hard to fight off sleep… Caffeine putatively functions as a stimulant by antagonizing (acting against) adenosine receptors (Ribeiro JA, Sebastiao AM, J Alzheimers Dis, 2010). So the point is… Let your sleep drive (and adenosine) build up. Don’t dissipate the strength of your natural sleep drive by taking a nap during the day!
#6 NO CAFFEINE 3 HOURS OR MORE AFTER WAKE UP TIME. See detailed explanation above for how caffeine works. Caffeine has a long half-life, so it’s hanging around in your system, making it harder for you to sleep if you drink it later in the day.
#5 ONLY USE YOUR BED FOR SLEEPING OR ROMANTIC ACTIVITIES. Your brain is smarter than you are. If you play video games, or do work on your laptop in bed, and then try to go to sleep, your brain will associate back to those activities, even if you don’t want it to. It’s like the classic example - “Don’t think about a white elephant.” You will probably find yourself thinking of the white elephant automatically or going back to the work in bed example thinking about your work.
#4 FIGURE OUT IF YOU'RE A NIGHT PERSON OR A DAY PERSON, and try to make your sleep schedule as natural as possible (while still showing up for work on time:).
#3 GET A RELAXATION ROUTINE BEFORE BED. This will be different for everyone. For some people, watching ESPN could be the most relaxing thing in the world. For others, listening to football players colliding could induce a state of wakefulness and irritation. So pick something that mellows you out - reading, a bath, vegetating to TV or the radio or a podcast, meditating - and start a routine of doing this 1 to 2 hours before your intended bedtime.
#2 IF YOU CAN'T GET TO SLEEP AFTER 15 TO 30 MINUTES GET OUT OF BED AND DO SOMETHING RELAXING. Probably the biggest driver of insomnia is anxiety about insomnia. Don’t lie there thinking about how tired you’re gonna be the next day. Get up, do something on your list from 5. above. When you start to feel sleepiness naturally coming to you, try to sleep again.
#1 DON’T DRINK ALCOHOL IN THE EVENING or limit alcohol to 1 drink. Alcohol makes most people sleepy but has a very short half-life (you metabolize about 1 beer an hour). Since alcohol stimulates the GABA system, and since GABA is a neurotransmitter system, which helps modulate relaxation, alcohol causes the opposite effect - anxious AROUSAL - when it is metabolized. Alcohol can be great for getting you to sleep but is terrible for keeping you asleep and disrupts the integrity of your sleep density (translation: reduces the quality of your sleep). People with anxiety-sensitivity can have this experience after even a single beer or glass of wine.