Imagine yourself standing in a crowded room when the person next to you turns and begins making small talk. They make a comment about being a morning person and your mind begins to wander. What exactly is a morning person? Is it someone who wakes up invigorated and ready to take on the world? Perhaps they are just the type of person that wakes up early?
The interesting thing about waking up early is that it is completely subjective. Early for me may not necessarily be early for you. By the same token, my early might be a time that you’re just getting ready for bed.
I bring up the concept of early because I think of myself as a morning person. Not only do I generally wake up ready to get my day started, often times not needing coffee to get me going, I also wake up early. Really early.
Throughout the work week my alarm sounds at 4:00am and, to tell you the truth, it isn’t uncommon for me to be awake a few minutes prior. I get up, jump in the shower, make my breakfast, and am out the door by 4:45am to begin my commute to work.
I’ve been following this same routine for several years and while I can manage on less than ideal sleep, I’ll begin to feel miserable as the day wears on. For this reason I try and make the most of my time in bed.
Casper Sleep Cards
A couple of weeks ago I began a new exercise routine and it left me feeling completely exhausted. After work I would hit the gym and work out for about two hours before heading home. I sat in my living room, fighting to keep my eyes open, while counting the minutes until it was time for my daughter to go to bed so that I could follow suit.
I wrote a blog post talking about how exhausted I felt and that post caught the eye of Casper. Being a small personal blog I don’t often receive personalized email from large companies about my random writings. When this particular email arrived, I was taken aback. Casper, the memory foam mattress company, was contacting little ol’ me?
In addition to the personal note, the email contained Casper Sleep Cards which made suggestions on how to get a better nights sleep. I thought it was worthwhile to share those cards with you, my readers, in hopes that perhaps we could all get a better nights rest.
While all of the tips are important to improving our sleep quality I’d like to focus on a few that I find particularly important.
I married a wonderful woman that has the uncanny ability to fall asleep mere moments after her head touches the pillow. I, on the other hand, have difficulty slowing down my mind enough for sleep to creep in. I often joke that my wife’s mind is like a light switch – all she has to do is flip the switch and she is out cold. My mind is like a giant reactor – I have to walk down aisles throwing levers and entering launch codes to power down my mind.
I can practically be asleep on my feet but when my head touches the pillow my mind begins to race. The simplest things will trip me up and sleep will elude me as I bounce from one thought to another.
Did I remember to lock the front door?
Does the dog need to go out?
I have to remember to send out that email when I get into the office.
Do we have enough eggs for breakfast?
Casper recommends creating a bedtime ritual to slow the mind and allow yourself to wind down. This is a far cry from my usual put my daughter to bed, get changed, and flop into bed. Creating a calming routine leading up to bed time should allow your body to fall into a relaxed groove. Over time one would think that our minds would create a sort of muscle memory for the routine and automatically begin to ease into sleep.
I’m no sleep guru but the premise seems sound and well worth a try.
In this day and age I think that it is very easy to become attached to our mobile devices. The moment they beep or buzz we have this incredible urge to reach for them to see what we’re missing. I’m guilty of it myself and often times have to turn the alerts off on my phone to prevent me from reaching for it during certain social situations.
This same insatiable urge to be connected follows us right into the bedroom. I don’t know how many times I’ve been laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, when a chime rouses my mind and the next thing I know my face is illuminated by the too-bright screen of my phone.
I’ve found that setting up Night Shift on my iPhone (I’m sure Android and Windows Phone has something similar) helps a great deal by altering the colors emitted by my phone screen. The darker color scheme is easier on my eyes and random checks aren’t so jarring in a dark room.
The real trick though is to learn to ignore your phone when laying down for bed. It takes some getting used to but it helps immensely.
Growing up I lived in a row home in Philadelphia. Spring and Summer nights were particularly tough because we kept our bedroom windows open. Laying in bed I’d often hear cars driving by, dogs barking in the alleyway, and the occasional gunshot. It is amazing how the mind adapts to these noises and we become dependent on them.
It has been a long time since I’ve lived in the city but the need for noise has stuck with me. I can’t sleep without some sort of noise in the room. If I’m forced to sleep in a room that is too quiet my mind goes into overdrive. I can’t seem to calm myself and I’ll spend half the night tossing and turning.
What works well for me these days is an app for my phone called Sleep Pillow. With it I can build layers of white noise that don’t disturb my wife. I like to use a mix of wind, rain, and thunder. With my phone on my bedside table and a timer set to 60 minutes, I’m usually asleep long before the app shuts itself off.
Four More Tips
As I said earlier in this blog post, Casper included 7 Sleep Cards in their email to me. I’ve discussed the ones that apply most to me already but I think the others are worth looking over. Click the images below to expand and read them.
your tips on getting a better nights sleep.