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About a month ago, I shared with you about how I was surprised to learn just how terrible my sleep patterns were after seeing my sleep logs from my Fitbit. If you read the post, you may recall that in a 9 hour night’s sleep I was only getting about 4 ½ hours of actual sleep. I’ve made several changes, and I can happily report that I am now getting a much better sleep at night! Here are the changes I made that seem to have the biggest impact.
1. Minimize evening screen time.
I figured out that one of my problems with getting quality sleep was that my brain didn’t seem to be shutting down at bedtime. I would be exhausted enough to fall asleep right away, but when I’d wake up in the middle of the night I would feel as if I had never dozed off. On the rare occasion that I would dream, it was usually about the exact things I was doing that day or the things I had been reading about or working on right before bed. I knew it was a bad habit to be working/reading/playing on the Surface right up until I went to bed, but I didn’t realize how much of a difference cutting out that one thing would help. I would say within a night or two of putting the tablet away an hour before lying down to go to sleep I noticed a difference in my sleep quality.
For some reason, only using a computer or tablet seems to have this affect on me. Watching TV doesn’t seem to diminish the quality of my sleep. I think that is probably because I am not thinking much while watching TV and I am actually using my brain much more while I am on the tablet because I am either working, reading on my Kindle Cloud Reader app, or playing around on the internet. I’m no sleep expert, so that’s just my guess.
2. Using my brain-dump journal.
I’ve had one of these for a while, but I had gotten out of the habit of using it regularly. As another attempt to quiet my brain before bedtime, I started writing in my brain-dump journal before bed. This is different than a diary or other type of journal in that you just write the thoughts as they are happening in your head as if your arm and hand are a pipe that connects your brain to the paper. Don’t think about grammar, spelling, sentence structure, or even handwriting. Just write the thoughts as they happen. It takes some getting used to if you like your writing to look neat or you like to write with continuity. But for me, it is like I am literally getting those thoughts out of my brain so that I can mentally calm before preparing for sleep.
3. Drinking more water.
Another bad habit that I had slipped into was drinking coffee all day long and not drinking nearly enough water. So as an obvious change, I started limiting the amount of caffeine I was drinking. I just made the simple commitment to stop drinking caffeine after noon. That did seem to help, but I really began noticing a bigger difference when I started tracking my water intake in my Fitbit app. Even though I had cut down on caffeine, I was still only drinking about 4 or 5 glasses of water each day. When I started drinking 8, I noticed that I felt more awake during the day and more rested after sleeping.
This is still such a challenge for me. I’ve shared with you about how I try to work out at home, and my struggles keeping up with it. It is still a challenge, but I can say that when I do work out I get better sleep. I can feel it physically and I can see it in my Fitbit sleep logs. Just another reason regular exercise is so important!
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Do you have trouble sleeping? Have you tried any of these? What are your best tips for getting better sleep?