Four nasty tangents and here we are, you and me – we aren’t normal. So, I believe I was talking good sleep. I cannot speak for everybody when it comes to a bodily function such as sleep. It is one that is heavily dependent on the person’s lifestyle. I will however, talk about how I manage to get some happy, sound and satisfying sleep.
First, I can only go to bed happily if I’d done something productive that day. Anything that brings me internal fulfilment. I’ve found myself days when I’d go to bed restless and at unease, feeling like crap about having wasted a day that could have otherwise been great. There were also times when I’d frantically squeeze some incomplete task into the minutes before bed in a selfish attempt to get some ‘rewarding’ sleep.
Second, I get sound sleep if I’m in a familiar environment with no physical discomfort or mental unrest of any kind. Getting a good night’s rest would be at stake if my brain’s subconscious (I don’t know if this is correctly used, psychology isn’t my thing) is busy planning the next day, or contemplating some big event. How do I stay away from this? Plan things ahead of time, set reminders, checklists, itineraries, and what not. The key is getting rid of any uncertainty while I mentally prepare to sleep.
Third, how satisfyingly I sleep really depends on my mood at the time of waking. Do I feel rested and well? Or do I feel hungover and like crap? Besides those occasional nights when I have over-indulged on several rounds of Cosmopolitan, I try to get that great rested feeling only sound sleep can provide by priming myself well, physically and mentally before bedtime. Physically, I make myself some chamomile tea. Tazo makes some good ones, and I’m not being paid to place them. Who even reads this blog, honestly? (rhetorical question, don’t attempt to answer, the answer might be sadder than I think so let me have my moment) Mentally, I try not to think of anything that’d remind me of all my decisions I’ve made in life that’d brought me to writing a post on sleep.
My bedtime routine: No! Not one where I’d brush my teeth, make my bed and sleep – like a responsible adult. I almost always have some personal electronic device playing my favorite sitcom, podcast or some audio-visual distraction beside me in bed. It serves the purpose of keeping me distracted from the bigger distractions inside my wild, wild mind (yes, I did spell wild twice). These thoughts, if left unchecked would zoom though my head adding to existing anxiety and restlessness. The external audio-visual stimuli in this case, impede the thoughts from firing. I’ve tried music but it doesn’t seem as effective as it used to be. Speech such as in TV series and podcasts help.
Here’s a tip: If you struggle with remembering things for a test the next day, read it right before bedtime. You’re more likely to retain information. Mornings are probably not the best time to learn, unless you’re taking naps throughout the day.
Enough about me, here’s some facts. These are universal and apply to everyone. You always want your sleep time in integer multiples of 90 minutes. The average person’s sleep cycle lasts around 90 minutes and it’s a good starting point to set your alarm. Be reminded that your sleep cycle patterns greatly vary by age – generally older people spend less time in Non-REM (NREM) sleep. Also, your first sleep cycle of the night is also the deepest, which means you are more likely to spend time in stage four sleep – part of sleep cycle with the lowest brain activity. Therefore, you should exercise caution to bay out environmental annoyances and distractions that might disrupt your sleep and might end waking you up feeling lost and grumpy. I believe there’s a term for this called ‘sleep inertia’…and that is probably the closest psychologists will get to using a physics term in their lives. Pun intended!
I like to think of myself as a man of logic. You probably don’t know this but I’ve run into some painful situations in life as a result – being consistent with logic. Man, as he turns out to be, isn’t always logical. Sometimes, he completely isn’t. Barbaric, I must say. Watch out for the fifth tangent, I might have that up sooner than you think.