I want to talk about sleep briefly, because it’s something I’ve had on my mind.
Right now, at 51, I am sleeping better than ever, and it’s improved my life almost across the board. To me, improving your sleep is one of the single biggest life improvements you can make.
It wasn’t always this way. Like seemingly 99% of people out there, I had an almost adversarial relationship with sleep, replete with 3am “can’t sleep” posts on Facebook (err, dipshit, being on FB at 3am is one of the reasons you can’t sleep).
I also used to say “I can’t turn my brain off”, and I hear this a lot from other people who can’t sleep. But I have to be honest, most people who say this (me included) aren’t some genius who’s solving the world’s problems at 11pm – they’re worried about how to get out of going to Jan’s party on Saturday, because Steve will be there. Or something like that (full disclosure – I don’t care about either one of them. They’re both idiots).
I had horrid insomnia for many years, and it really came to a head in my mid 30’s to mid 40’s. I tried all kinds of pills, potions, etc, but none of it really worked. But you know what I never tried? The first thing any “how to fall asleep” information tells you – go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, even the weekends.
I always ignored this because I didn’t want to do that. Not stay up until 2am on a Friday or Saturday? Not sleep until 11am on a Sunday? Please…
But the more I read about this, the more it made sense to me. You body needs regulation, and throwing your sleep out of whack on the weekends isn’t doing you any favors. So I tried it – I work at home, and like nights, so I set a bedtime of midnight for myself, and a wake time of 8am. And let me tell you, within 2 weeks, my insomnia was cured. There were a few other things (avoid caffeine in the afternoon, don;t eat at night, etc), but the big one was the steady bedtime. It’s made a marked difference in my life.
A few sleep tips:
1) Go to bed / get up at the same time every day. If you aren’t willing to do this, you may never get ahead of sleep issues.
2) GO TO BED. I know people who avoid sleep because they don’t enjoy their lives. They work a job they hate, get home from a one-hour commute at 6pm, and can’t fathom going to sleep, because they have zero time for themselves. They say things like “I only need 5 hours of sleep” (BS), and then make it up by binge-sleeping on the weekends. This is no way to live your life, folks. Make changes.
3) Avoid afternoon caffeine. And try and avoid alcohol in the evening. No eating at night either.
4) Try and get some exercise every day.
You don’t have to do the above if you don’t want to, but don’t expect great sleep then. For myself, I tried everything BUT the above for years. But once I did the above, it worked like a charm.
One last thing – here’s an interesting infographic about the sleeping habits of 61 famous people. Now, don’t read this thing and say “see, Issac Newton only got 3-4 hours of sleep a night, so I’m ok”. You’re not Isaac Newton. Go to @#$%ing bed.