As a singer songwriter I endure a lot of late nights, but as a human I like to go to bed early. On nights I don't have shows, I am usually in bed by 10 p.m. and up at 5:15 a.m. - not exactly a "rockstar" lifestyle. As you can imagine, this makes getting a normal sleep a little difficult. Sometimes it's difficult to maintain a routine schedule, but I've learned that sleep is one of the key ingredients to overall good health. Over the years I've implemented some helpful tricks to getting a good night's sleep and I'd love to share them with you now. Here are eight helpful tips:
#1: Turn off all of your electronic devices. This includes the television, your telephone, and a radio if you still listen to one. Studies have proven that the electromagnetic waves produced by electronic devices actually prevent people from getting normal sleep. This is true for electric blankets too. (Just pile on a couple of extra blankets if you get cold.)
#2: Don't sleep with your pets. For some people, this might not be a problem. Studies show that for some people letting their pets in bed with them actually gives them a sense of security and helps them rest; but if you have an animal that doesn't sleep through the night, you might consider sending him to the proverbial "doghouse." (Aside from sleep, another disadvantage of letting your pet sleep with you is all the cooties - worms, bacteria, etc. - they might bring into bed - ewwww!)
#3: Take a hot bath or shower before you go to bed. There's something incredibly soothing about that hot water and steam. Immersing your body in this warmth allows your muscles to relax and your mind to slow down. This is especially nice in the winter.
#4: Use a natural sleep aid. When I say natural sleep aid, I am referring to an herbal supplement, an essential oil, or other organic type of product. And while, alcohol is technically natural, it is actually known to reduce REM sleep. My two personal favorite natural sleep aids are melatonin and a drink powder composed of calcium and magnesium called Natural Calm.
#5: Make your room as much like a luxury hotel as possible. If you've ever stayed at a swanky hotel, you know what I'm talking about. They're always clean, uncluttered have super nice sheets and comforters, and give you an overall feeling of relaxation. To recreate this environment, spend the extra money on a great mattress, elegant bed linens and a good bed if you can. Keep your room clean and uncluttered - pick up your books and keep your clothes off the floor. Leave the surfaces of dressers and nightstands clear as much as possible. Another reason these types of hotel rooms can be easy to sleep in is that they are often noiseproof. While it may be hard to completely noise proof your own bedroom, you can run a fan, get a special white noise maker machine or you can download a white noise app onto your phone and use that.
#6: Get prepared for the next day. Before you go to bed, make a list of the items that you know you need to do the next day. Set out any items that you know you need to take to work with you. Make your lunch for the next day after supper. All of these preparations help you to feel confident that the following day will be a successful one. This kind of preparation prevents you from laying in bed all night thinking about all the things you should do the next day or the days to follow.
#7: Practice relaxation techniques. Some simple deep breathing exercises and stretching can help you ready your body for a good night's rest. One of my favorite relaxation techniques to use as I'm falling asleep is to picture all four corners of the room. Once I fix it on all four corners of the room I then try to picture other corners of other rooms in my house. If I get through all of the rooms in my house, I picture the block, the town, and just keep expanding out - usually I'm asleep by the time I get to the corners of my room though. This technique gets you grounded and helps you to breathe deeply.
#8: Watch what you eat and drink. Of course we all know that caffeine can really harm restful sleep. As someone who absolutely adores coffee this one is kind of hard for me. I haven't completely been able to give up coffee, but I do try not to drink it in the afternoon as much as possible. In addition to caffeine-laden drinks, there may be some other hidden food issues that are causing insomnia. Things like dairy and wheat intolerance can contribute. So can food additives and sugar. If you suspect you have a food allergy you can do food testing with a qualified practitioner or simply try an elimination diet for several weeks.
I hope these tips are helpful! Please let me know if you currently use any of them and how they work for you. If you have any additional tips, I'd love to hear them! Here's to getting a good night's sleep - because even rockstars occasionally need to get some Zzzzzzz's.