Saturday, January 19, 2008

Falling Asleep on Time

A recent post of Shamus's turned into commentors sharing their tricks for falling asleep on time when they might otherwise stay up too late. Since I already typed it, I might as well share my tricks on my own blog too. Fortunately this is not much of an issue anymore. I used to have a lot of trouble falling asleep promptly, but have much less now.

What do I do to help myself fall asleep “on time” when I need to but am not inclined to?

(1) I avoid eating or drinking during the two hours before bedtime. I’m not sure why this helps, but it does.

(2) The conventional wisdom that having your internal thermostat cool down helps with falling asleep is true for me but apparently only at the end of such a cycle. I fall asleep more easily after a warm shower but only if the shower happens a full hour before bedtime.

(3) Enough exercise during the day is important. I like running on the nearby bark-paved running trails, or doing some weight lifting. Again, this wakes me up for a couple hours so I need to do the exercise at least two hours before bedtime.

(4) Stretching or relaxing also helps, this time no earlier or later than about two hours before bedtime. I’ll take time to pray, do tai chi, lie on my back on a “foam roller”, etc. The trick is to do this late enough it is of actual help in physically relaxing me before bedtime, but early enough I do not get frustrated if I cannot mentally relax while I am physically relaxing.

(5) If I can finish something on my to-do list that I would otherwise be tempted to think about while trying to fall asleep, do that something.

(6) Some steady background noise helps me if my brain is used to it. I can plug in an electric fan/heater in the living room to become acclimated to its noise and then move it to the bedroom when I go to bed.

(7) For the half hour before bed I do something really boring that requires my attention but gives my brain nothing to replay in my mind as I try to fall asleep. World of Warcraft fishing is ideal.

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