The nightly production is about to begin. You have rehearsed this many times, but to be sure your daytime performance is award winning, let’s review your starring role as a “good sleeper” to make sure your sleep show goes off without a hitch.
Keep your bed and wake times as consistent as possible. Your bedtime routine should be committed to memory, and it should consist of a series of steps that take you toward the bedroom and help transition your mind and body from wake to sleep. These steps are always in the same order and are reproducible, meaning they can be followed anywhere, whether you are staying in a hotel or a relative’s guest room, or you’re in the comfort of your own home. If unforeseen events keep you from getting your required amount of sleep, indulge in a 20–30 minute “matinee” nap to keep you performing at your best.
Stick to the Script
Set a bedtime alarm so you do not succumb to bedtime procrastination and miss your cue that it’s time for sleep. Stick to the script, which calls for relaxing, unwinding, and then drifting off to sleep. Remember that the script calls for sleep, which does not include letting your mind wander back to the day’s events or forward to what to expect from tomorrow. By writing down your to-do list (and worry list) earlier in the day, you are separated from those very things that might distract you when it’s time to sleep. Set your wake-up alarm for a time that allows for sufficient sleep. Don’t set it earlier in anticipation of hitting the snooze button.
Props and Scenery
Set the stage for sleep by assessing your sleep environment. Is it conducive to a good night’s sleep? Here is a checklist to make sure your set is performance ready:
üElectronics located in another room
üComfortable mattress and pillows
üClean and comfortable sheets and bedding
üEye mask and ear plugs
üWhite noise app or machine
üLight reading material
üRoom temperature around 65 degrees F.
üRelaxing scent such as lavender
Your costume helps you get into character. In fact, the term enclothed cognition was coined “to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes.” Changing into comfortable and designated sleepwear is a critical component of an effective sleep strategy.
For optimal sleep performance, real pajamas that you only wear to bed are ideal. Don’t wear athletic clothes or street clothes. There are many types of pajama fabrics available—silk, flannel, linen, cotton, even cashmere—so choose what feels best for you and your sleep style.
Quiet on the Set
Noise is a notorious sleep thief, so it’s important to minimize all sources of noise to ensure quality, unfragmented sleep. Fans and noise machines provide a white noise that is helpful in drowning out unwanted, disruptive sound. Keep earplugs close at hand—whether you are at home or on the road—for those unexpected sirens, barking dogs, and late night partyers. Just knowing they are there if you need them can help give you the peace of mind that brings sound sleep.
Lights, Camera … Action
Start dimming the lights as the evening wears on and bedtime draws close. Relaxing activities near bedtime should not include any electronics; power off electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. Use a filter app or orange-tinted glasses to block blue light on electronics in the evening. Blackout curtains or an eye mask help ensure the ideal sleep environment. When you wake up in the morning, be sure to expose yourself to bright, natural light to help wake you up and get your show on the road.
It’s not unusual to awaken during the night. Most of the time, if the room is dark and quiet, we go right back to sleep, often not even remembering the waking. Remove the clock face from your line of sight: you may fall into the trap of looking at it if you do wake up and obsess about how much time you have left to sleep. If you awaken to use the restroom, use the dimmest light possible to make your way safely. If you can’t fall back to sleep in a few minutes, don’t stress over it. Resist the urge to check phones or clocks or turn on the TV. For this intermission, get out of the bed if you do not find yourself sleepy in about 15 minutes, and do something relaxing in low light, such as light reading (non-engaging nonfiction), knitting, coloring, a jigsaw puzzle, and return to the bed when you become sleepy.
A good night’s sleep leads to a day filled with energy, learning, motivation, creativity, optimism, and well being. Sufficient sleep on a consistent basis is just the ticket for a critically acclaimed performance in your waking hours. Setting the stage for a good night’s sleep is setting the stage for a productive and rewarding day that will make you feel like the star you are.
Blogger: Terry Cralle @PowerOfSleep