This is post eight in a six week program aimed at curing your insomnia, not just treating it.
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- The Setup
- Drugs and Other Help
- The Schedule
- The Sleep Environment
- Turn Off The TV
- Sunlight and Darkness
Establish A Bedtime Routine
In Step 4 of this journey, we talked about waking up at the same time every day – weekends, holidays, weekdays – every day. It’s amazing that after doing this for a couple of years, I couldn’t sleep in if I wanted to. My body knows that at 7am, I am up and out of bed. Getting up earlier isn’t a problem for me, but getting up later is almost impossible. I think this is where we need to be.
In order to help this process along, it’s important that we give ourselves the opportunity to sleep for a sufficient amount of time every night. When your schedule is such that you can’t find six or seven hours to sleep each night – change your schedule!
Sleep is too important to be trivialized. If you can’t sleep even when given the opportunity, know that the simple act of lying restfully and relaxing is good for you.
Finding A Bedtime
In this step, it’s a good idea to determine how much sleep you will need each night. Generally, experts agree that 7-9 hours of sleep for a normal adult is the right amount. For the chronic insomniac (which I assume you are), we’ll target the lower end of that scale and start there. The stories you hear about people sleeping 4 or 5 hours a night should be quite rare. They are either truly exceptional or truly delusional. Assume you’re normal!
As an example, this means that if you’re going to get up at 7am every day, and you require seven hours of sleep each night, you will target a bedtime of midnight. If this is later than you usually go to bed – it may turn out to be a good thing. That extra time awake will increase your internal drive to sleep, and you may find yourself falling asleep faster, and sleeping deeper through the night. Fight the urge to seek a bed at 10pm or 11pm!
If you’re even more tired than usual in the morning, maybe you need more than seven hours of sleep (or, more precisely, the opportunity to sleep). Push bedtime back to 11:30pm or 11pm to see what that does. The whole idea is to find that ideal time where you fall asleep quickly, sleep deeply, and wake up refreshed. It may take some time to figure this out. Experiment.
Remember that being in bed too long is just as bad as being in bed for too short a time. The right amount is what we’re aiming for. Everybody will be slightly different.
There’s an advanced technique to handling really tough insomnia on the BuildBetterSleep website called Sleep Restriction. You may want to give that a try to determine bedtime as well.
Once you have a bedtime, stick to it. It can be more flexible than your wake time, but 9 nights out of 10, you should be hitting the sack at the same time…
Step 8 is establishing and sticking to a routine at night.
See you in four days with Step Nine…