Sleep is one of those things -- like food or air -- that most of us don't give too much thought to until we're without it. When you have no trouble sleeping, sleep doesn't seem like a topic to deserve much thought. However, when you can't sleep, that lack of rest can impact everything in your life. Whether you realize it or not, sleep is a crucial element of living a positive, present life. When you're exhausted, it's pretty hard to be positive. And it's also hard to be present as well. Your mind wanders, you can feel disoriented. Staying positive in the present becomes very difficult when you're tired.
To live the best possible life, you need to make sure you're rested and ready for whatever comes your way. If you've ever had trouble sleeping and looked for ideas online, I'm sure you've come across countless articles (and even entire sites!) dedicated to the topic of finding rest. I'm certainly no expert on the subject, but I've been a pretty decent sleeper most of my life. I have my nights where sleep eludes me, but those nights are rare, so I've come up with five tips -- S.L.E.E.P. -- that I've used over the years to help me sleep. Hopefully they can help you the next time you find yourself lying awake pondering whether or not counting sheep might actually work...
Schedule your sleep. Seems like a silly thing to do, but just like you schedule your meals, your workouts, or your time spent with friends, you should also schedule your sleep time. I personally strive to go to sleep every night at 10pm -- and I rarely miss that deadline. If you schedule your sleep like you would another appointment in your life, you'll help yourself stay on track and you'll (hopefully) get yourself to bed at reasonable hour.
Limit sources of stimulation. You've heard it before: before you go to bed, don't consume caffeine or sugar; don't watch television or play video games; don't go to the gym. Yes, this advice is pretty unoriginal, but it really is worth listening to. Whatever pumps you up -- whether it be a substance or an activity -- avoid it for at least a few hours before bedtime. For some added sleep help, try doing something that calms you down -- drinking decaf tea, taking a bubble bath, reading a book, etc.
Eliminate distractions. Just as you should rid your life of stimulation when you are trying to get some rest, you must also eliminate all elements that might distract you from sleep. Turn off or silence your cell phone. Stop checking email so you don't become stressed about the next day's to-do list. Ask your friend or family members to save potentially stressful conversations for the next day. Whatever you need to do to elminate distractions from your life so you can focus on sleeping, do it.
Engage four of your senses. When I was a kid, my cousin shared this tip with me: if you're having trouble falling asleep, tune into your senses. Instead of letting worries fill your mind, instead think about what you can hear, feel, smell, taste. (But ignore what you see -- you need to keep your eyes closed!) Whenever I do this exercise, I always find that I fall asleep. Something about being fully present and not allowing my mind to wander too much helps to ease me into a restful state.
Put yourself in an odd spot. This last one I can't guarentee. The only person I know who has tried it is me -- but it seems to work like a charm! When I'm having trouble sleeping, I'll lie on my back. Since I'm a side sleeper, this isn't a comfortable way for me to sleep and the longer I lie like that, the more my body wants to get into a comfortable position. When I finally allow myself to roll over, my body seems grateful and is almost always ready for sleep.
Whether you're consciously aware of it or not, sleep is essential when it comes to experiencing a positive day. The less sleep you get, the unhappier you become. To make the most of every day, strive to get the sleep you need (from what I've read, the "right" amount is different for everyone so experiment until you find the number of hours that are right for you). And if you're struggling to get to sleep, give some of these tips a try. They've certainly worked for me!