Tomorrow is World Sleep Day and I’m a delegate. Tonight, I’m giving a Power of Sleep webinar to help families and individuals sleep smoothly. (Spaces available!) But first a free World Sleep Day activity for you. It’s based on the science in my book, The Awesome Power of Sleep, my webinar and everywhere else I’ve written or spoken about it. Which is often!
TRICK YOUR BRAIN TO SLEEP
Brains love habits and if you’re sleeping badly I am pretty certain you have some negative ones. I will help you replace them with positive habits in this simple, 3-step activity to start tricking your brain into an earlier, smoother, healthier bedtime. Suitable for young people as well as adults. Today, I’ll tell you the 3 steps so you have a chance to prepare for action tomorrow. Tomorrow is the night you’ll start to see a difference. (IF you do as I say!)
STEP ONE – CHECK YOUR SLEEP POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES
These are my names for things that help and things that harm sleep. You’ll find the list here. Aim to have NO sleep negatives in the two hours before bed. You can have as many positives as you like: the more the better!
If you tend to sleep badly, see if any accidental sleep negatives could be responsible. Be imaginative, creative and ruthless about how you eliminate them. While some people seem to sleep fine with screens or a small amount of caffeine, others are strongly affected. Can you make your room darker, cooler, more comfortable? There’s always something you could do. It is about taking control of what you can control.
STEP TWO – THE ROUTINE
This is where you trick your brain to sleep. By creating a specific routine and doing it the same way for a few evenings, you trick the brain into recognising this as a pattern. “Here comes sleep – better switch the sleep hormone on.” And your brain makes the various body changes that are needed to make you ready for sleep.
Choose as many sleep positives as you wish (I suggest at least 5) and put them in an order that makes sense. For example, you need to close your curtains and get undressed before you get into bed and you can’t have a shower before you get undressed! Spend some time working out your routine and then decide when it needs to start.
- Start your routine at least an hour and ideally two hours before you want to turn your light off. Turn your light off about 20 minutes before you actually want to fall asleep.
- So, if you want to sleep for 8 hours and your alarm is going off at 7.00am, you’ll be turning your light off at 10.40 and starting your winding-down routine any time from 8.20. That doesn’t mean getting ready for bed then, just starting to prepare your mind and body with certain actions and eliminating the sleep-wrecking negatives.
Two rules about the routine:
- Closing curtains to remove daylight needs to appear early in the routine.
- So does switching off screens! (Apart from ebook readers with notifications turned off. I’d also make an exception for televisions when watched as a calming, ideally family/household activity, not in a bedroom.)
“Routine” means doing the same things in the same order at the same time each night. THIS IS THE KEY TO YOUR SLEEP PATTERNS! This also means that ideally you get up each morning at roughly the same time. Of course, if you have to get up very early on a weekday it’s natural to feel the need to sleep later at the weekend but ideally you should a) go to bed at the same time and b) not get up too late in the morning.
In the webinar tonight, I’ll be showing you how to change your circadian rhythms so you fall asleep earlier. And I’ll explain why going to bed very late is a very bad idea.
STEP THREE – DO THE RIGHT THINGS WHEN YOU GET INTO BED!
- Don’t try too hard
- Don’t look at a clock
- If you feel you’ve been lying awake for longer than 40 mins, you can get up and do something relaxing if you like, as long as it doesn’t involve any sleep negatives. Read, jigsaw, make a list, potter. If there’s a spare bed you could go to, do.
- Practise pushing worries and annoyances out of your head – the only things you’re allowed to think of are beautiful/positive, boring/routine or useful. I have lots of tips.
- Never worry about how you’ll feel tomorrow – that worry doesn’t help and anyway, you’ll be fine. Adrenalin will carry you through.
- Focus on your breathing, muscles and heart-rate: slow, loosen, soften, slower, looser, softer
Reading before you put your light out is THE best trick. When you were a child you probably had a bedtime story and so many people have continued to read before sleep, through teenage and adult years. For everyone who has ever done that, that is a deep-set pattern or habit that the brain recognises. “AH, bed, book, SLEEP,” says your brain. And you start to feel sleepy.
Read before you sleep to sleep early and well! It’s also brilliant because it helps switch your mind off its worries.
TODAY’S CALL TO ACTION:
Make your plan for tomorrow. See what you can do to make tomorrow evening sleep positive. Any changes you need to make in your sleeping space and your habits. Plan that routine!
I’d love to see you at the Power of Sleep webinar tonight. ALL your questions answered!