A couple months ago, I started seriously prioritizing my sleep and I’m a better person and my workouts have increased in intensity. Here’s what changed the game for me:
- Doing a Crossword
…as soon as I get in bed INSTEAD of scrolling social media. Yes, for real! My brain starts looking for something to work on as soon as my head hits the pillow and this always turns into anxiety about something I can’t control. It’s like the moment I have some down time, my brain says, “alright so here’s a list of problems and worries I’ve been saving for you…” Doing this crossword every day gives my brain what I call a dead end problem to fix. It’s not a real world “problem” or anything relevant to my actual life, it’s just something to wear it out. Like when you give your dog one of those toys with a treat stick inside. It’s pointless but it’s just stimulating enough to satisfy their need to be active. So it sounds lame but the daily crossword has been SO helpful in controlling the anxiety that crops up at night. It’s a healthy and challenging distraction that leads me right to that sleepy state I want to be in before dozing off.
2. Get to bed early.
I know this sounds obvious, but I never did it! I truly was NOT tired before 12am so going to bed at 9pm felt like torture! If I wanted to start feeling better, it was necessary. Now I get into bed by 9pm at the latest and usually fall asleep by 9:30pm.
3. Counting breaths.
I might not feel *sleepy* but I know my body and mind need and want to sleep. I started trying to quiet my mind with deep belly breaths fully believing it would do nothing, but lo and behold, it WORKED. Once the lights are out and I’ve worked my brain on my crossword, I start to feel tired. Then I put down my phone and take fulllll, slowwww, breaths in and out through my nose. I focus on feeling my belly rise fully and gently fall. I basically hypnotize myself. With each exhale I visualize my body getting heavier, my thoughts evaporating, and everything relaxing into the comfort of my bed. I really lean into “the tired” and try to go with it instead of thinking in circles. Most nights, I don’t even make it to 10 breaths before I fall asleep and I don’t even remember when it happens.
With my new habits, a good night usually gets me 7 hours of sleep and falling asleep within 30-45 minutes, but I get a minimum of 6 every night… and last night I got 8.5!!! It’s a work in progress but progress is all I’m after. Find what works for you and then STAY ON IT!