How to Sleep Well

Toss. Turn. Fluff the pillow. Covers. No covers. I’ve been there. Getting a good night’s sleep had been a goal of mine for a long time. It took me a long time to understand what a good night’s sleep involved. Once I found the secret—because really, that is what it is, a secret—I now gorge on the ZZZ’s.

Sleeping well
Sleeping well

For today’s Freedom Friday post, I’m going to talk about the most important productivity booster you will ever know—sleep.

It wasn’t too long ago when I suffered from insomnia. I have posts dedicated to the subject and my stories are legendary. For instance, there was a point four years ago that I was getting two hours of sleep a night. You may ask how on earth I could have functioned on so little sleep. It wasn’t easy. The condition had lasted for years culminating in the worst year of my life. I’d fallen ill three times that year, one major blow after another. This is from a guy who hadn’t gotten sick since 2005. Flus, fevers, coughs, colds—you name it, I had it.

The bright side to that year was finding a rhythm that worked for me, but not after many attempts and a few failures along the way.

This is how I do it.

Say Good Night—Interesting how the simple act of a goodnight kiss will prep the body to begin shutting down. For me, as soon as I begin my goodnight tour, my eyes begin to drift, my muscles relax and I find that I’m dragging my limbs upstairs instead of walking. This is all very well and fine, because it’s the body’s way of telling me it’s ready to hit the sack. And it all starts with saying goodnight.

Prepare the Sleeping Area—My ritual entails stripping the bed and making it over again, even if it’s done. Yes, I admit it is strange. But it’s my thing. It’s another step toward solid sleep. I remove the wrinkles. Tighten the sheets. Fluff the pillows and create a fold. I know, and I agree that it’s obsessive compulsive. You know what, though? Every time I get under the sheets, it feels great knowing I’ve made the bed minutes earlier. Call me strange.

Wash and Get Dressed—Hygiene is very important for a sound, restful sleep. Every night I brush my teeth, wash my face, comb my hair and go pee—and wash my hands again, of course. Then I slip into my PJs made of 100% cotton. The material is important because I find 100% cotton allows my skin to breathe. Try sleeping with polyester on your skin. Not a fun night Charlie Brown.

Downtime—Once I’ve taken care of the prerequisites, I’ll turn off all the lights except for the one on my nightstand. I’ll dim that one to its lowest setting. Next, I’ll pray, listen to music, read, perhaps play a game or two and slowly allow my eyes to close. Sometimes I won’t even have the chance to do anything. I’ll simply be ready for bed. The downtime provides my body to ease into its sleep cycle. It’s not about the activity, but about allowing your body to shut down naturally. For a long time I didn’t do this and found myself wide awake at two in the morning.

In Bed—Once I’ve completed the Twenty-Mile Marathon, I put everything away, tuck myself under the sheets and turn off the light. Seriously, within seconds I fall asleep and wake up every morning feeling refreshed and invigorated. The trick while sleeping is to never look at the clock. Eventually, the alarm will go off and you’ll bounce out of bed with all the energy you need to tackle the day’s events.

That’s all there is to it. Now you know me a little more than you had a few minutes ago.

Last piece of advise, if you’re looking to get a good night’s sleep: find your rhythm. It’ll take a while, but once you find it, your body will be happy you did.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Have you suffered from insomnia? What was your cure?

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “How to Sleep Well

  1. I have f.lux installed on all my devices – PC, laptop, and phone. I find it helps tremendously if I’m forced to work on said devices before I go to bed. It basically turns the light to a much gentler, warmer yellow which is both less painful on the eyes and helps you fall asleep much more easily

  2. I suffer from insomnia. …I have so much on my mind (posts, stories,book reviews and just life) that my mind has a hard time shutting down. I’ve always been like this.

    I’ve tried many different things….some that you even listed…but failed. So currently, I have been taking 1/2 an ambien and it seems to do the trick.

  3. Funny… I’m the same way with making up the bed before I sleep. My wife thinks its bizarre, but she’s gotten used to it. For some reason, if the sheets aren’t smooth and if the cover lets my feet poke out, I can’t sleep. Its ok for them to get uncovered from the size, but if its the bottom, or if I feel a wrinkle under me, I’m up again, even in the middle of the night, and I have to fix it before I can lie back down. I do it half-asleep all the time.

      • Funny, under the right conditions, I could nap in a closet sitting up, just like my dad could. The guy was in the Navy, & even though I never was, I inherited a bunch of his traits.

      • Heh. I envy you. I’ve always had trouble falling asleep. I can’t turn off my head. I first remember it from when I was around 7-8 years old. Sometimes, sheer exhaustion puts me down, but for the most part, I function on about 4-5 hours of sleep these days. There were years, especially in my 20s, when I would only get an hour or two every night, and I was always on a low energy level. I’m going to be 40 in 3 months, and I’ve had spells of “good” sleep in the past year, but it somehow always ends up shifting to 4-5 hours over time. It doesn’t help that I get up and work all the time, since I work from home during the week, and then I’m with a team on Sundays, so I never turn it off.

  4. I slept amazingly well when I had an aquarium. The steady sound of bubbling, aerated water. Never mind that 45 minutes to an hour later, I’d have to get up to go to the bathroom. 🙂 The sound of running water helps me when it’s nearby.

    • Ha! I can sleep through a train running through the room. That’s what my wife says. Must be the consistent sound that makes it all the more relaxing. That’s including the aquarium.

  5. I started suffering from insomnia when I was eight years old (thank you, Night Terrors) and it continued all my life. I can fall asleep just fine, but I can’t stay that way as a rule.

    However! That changed when I moved to Maryland and experienced cold weather. So now, I can sometimes sleep in the winter. This is good. For me, a “good night’s sleep” is about six solid hours and it rarely happens. My sleep rhythm is generally two to three hours asleep, two to three hours awake, then a series of naps until it’s time to get up and functioning.

    Thankfully, I feel like I function well. 🙂 When my younger son had a sleep disorder for five years and couldn’t sleep, I was able to be up with him at all hours and still homeschool my older son, etc. Because my body knew how.

    The other night, I got eight hours of sleep. EIGHT. Red-letter day here, for sure. 🙂

    • I have the exact same problem. I have learned however, to never look at the clock, no matter when I wake, make sure the temperature is below 65, and this going to sound really weird, but there are two movies I can put on that always, always, knock me right out, after about ten minutes: the movies Se7en and Valhalla Rising. I know it sounds weird but it’s something about those two movies that I get a great sleep when they’re playing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s