This is post five in a six week program aimed at curing your insomnia, not just treating it.
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The Sleep Environment
You’ve probably clued in by now that the way we’re trying to cure your insomnia by retraining your brain to sleep.
Often, this is called “Cognitive Behaviour Training” or CBT. People invoke fancy exotic programs to CBT – neuro feedback, isochronic music tracks, meditation and others – but it’s all really the same thing.
One of the ways we can train your brain is to condition it to a specific environment. Whenever you are introduced into that environment, you are pre-conditioned to sleep.
It’s interesting to note that when people go for a night in a sleep lab – where technicians monitor you all night, and you have all manner of sensors attached to you – they tend to sleep better than when they’re in their own bedrooms. It’s because their mind associates “sleep lab” with “sleep”. Somehow, that link between “bedroom” and “sleep” has been lost.
So now it’s time to associate your bedroom with sleep again. Here are eight points to consider:
- Your bed must be comfortable. Not too hard, not too soft. Everyone is different, so this is a particularly personal choice.
- Your bed must also not be too warm or too cold. A coolish bedroom with warm (not hot) covers on your bed are ideal. A down comforter can be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Think cotton sheets in the summer, and flannel sheets in the winter.
- The room should have some fresh, cool air in it. A window should be open (even in the winter), or a fan should be on (the fan can do double duty to provide consistent “pink” noise).
- The room needs to be dark – very dark. If you can’t make the room dark enough, invest in a sleep mask. Tinfoil on the windows looks low-rent but it works!
- The room needs to be quiet. Earplugs are an excellent way to make noisy things quiet. That fan or air-conditioner running in the background can also mask noise and provide a type of quiet (ie: no intermittent or erratic noise).
- Make things neat and clutter free. If you go to bed and can’t think of anything but how messy the room is – clean it up. The state of your room is not something you should be thinking about.
- Remove anything unrelated to sleep from the room. This includes TV sets, computers, ironing boards, clothes hampers. Really try to limit the bedroom furniture you have in the room. Make it super simple, neat and very easy to keep clean.
- The bed is for sleeping and sex only. Nothing else. No reading, no working, no TV watching. The idea is to associate the bed with going to sleep. If you do this long enough, your brain will start to adapt this idea. Bed = Sleep.
My ideal picture of the perfect bedroom would be an open window, a nice breeze, a warm comforter, and no outside light. No dresser, no night-stand, no lamp, no TV. See how close you can get to this ideal…
Step 5 is to fix your bedroom.
See you in a couple of days with Step Six…