How much sleep did you get last night? According to Gallups estimates, almost half the people youll run into today are suffering from some level of sleep deprivation. Missing sleep worsens your mood, weakens your memory, and harms your decision-making all day long.
Since most of us can’t sleep later in the morning than we currently do, the only option is to get to bed earlier. And yet we don’t. Why? The reason is twofold. First, we’re so busy during the day that the only time we have to ourselves is late in the evening – so we stay up late because it’s our only downtime. Second, we have less willpower when we’re tired, which makes it tougher to force ourselves into bed.
So, how do you get to bed earlier and get more sleep? Here are a few suggestions, based on goal-setting research.
Start by identifying an exact time when you want to be in bed. Be specific. Trying to go to bed “as early as possible” is hard to achieve because it doesn’t give you a clear idea of what success looks like. Instead, think about when you need to get up in the morning and work backwards. Try to give yourself 8 hours, meaning that if you’d like to be up by 6:45am, aim to be under the covers no later than 10:45pm.
Next, do a nighttime audit of how you spend your time after work. For one or two evenings, don’t try to change anything—simply log everything that happens from the moment you arrive home until you go to bed. What you may discover is that instead of eliminating activities that you enjoy and are keeping you up late (say, watching television between 10:30 and 11:00), you can start doing them earlier by cutting back on something unproductive that’s eating up your time earlier on (like mindlessly scanning Facebook between 8:30 and 9:00).
Once you’ve established a specific bedtime goal and found ways of rooting out time-sinks, turn your attention to creating a pre-sleep ritual that helps you relax and look forward to going to bed. A major impediment to getting to sleep on time is that when 11:00pm rolls around, the prospect of lying in bed is not as appealing as squeezing in a quick sitcom or scanning tomorrow’s newspaper headlines on your smartphone. Logically, we know we should be resting, but emotionally we’d prefer to be doing something else.
Experts recommend giving yourself at least 30 minutes each night to wind down before attempting to sleep. You might also try setting an alarm on your smartphone letting you know when it’s time to begin, so that the process becomes automatic.
However you choose to use the time before bed, do your best to keep this time free of negative energy. Avoid raising delicate topics with your spouse, and don’t even set your morning alarm right before going to bed – it will just get your mind thinking about the stresses of the next day. (Instead, re-set your alarm for the following morning right when you wake up.)
And finally, keep a notepad and a light-up pen nearby. If you think of something you need to do the next day, jot it down instead of reaching for your smartphone. Do the same for any important thought that pops into your head as you are trying to fall asleep. Once you’ve written it down, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to let go. Read more…