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Few things make you feel like a new person the way a solid night’s rest can. Conversely, tossing and turning all night can make the next day miserable.
I’m not grateful that I have battled the sleeplessness demon. However, I learned many valuable lessons that improved my daily routine. Here’s how insomnia led me to improved sleep habits and how you can get more of the shuteye you need and deserve.
I Got Myself on a Schedule
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the best habits you can adopt to combat insomnia is to go to bed and wake up at relatively the same time each day. Before I battled insomnia, I tended to do what’s natural — sleep when I was tired.
However, I didn’t realize that I needed to give my brain time to power down, much like a child may need a car ride or a bedtime story to fall asleep. As such, I used to do a bit of work or scroll my social media feeds. Now, my winddown routine consists of a regular yoga practice, followed by a meditation session. I sometimes find myself drifting off on my mat.
My wakeup routine also underwent a deep-sea change. When I would stay up late, my snooze button became my best friend. I soon realized if I wanted to be tired at a reasonable hour, I needed to rise by one — but first, I had to make waking up pleasant.
I now start my day with a brief meditation to adjust my mindset, then studying Spanish on a language-learning app for 15 minutes while cuddling with my cats. No matter what else happens throughout the day, I start it with my brain and heart in the right place, helping me maintain my composure through life’s ups and downs.
I Performed a Bedroom Makeover
As a freelancer, I can work where I like — which sounds divine until electronics take over your bedroom. If you ever suspected all those lights could keep you awake, you’re right. The blue light emitted by devices disrupts your melatonin levels. This vital sleep hormone helps you maintain your circadian rhythms, and inadequate amounts can lead to insomnia.
Step one, therefore, was setting up a charging station and getting my gadgets out of the bedroom. I included my television — I wanted to reserve my bedroom for sleep and sex. I also replaced my alarm clock, trading in those glowing red guilt-lights for a wind-up model that doesn’t serve as a bright reminder to how many hours in bed I have remaining.
Step two involved making my space super-cozy. Since I battle chronic pain issues, I stocked up on tons of pillows to support my achy spots and get as comfortable as possible. I’m also a light sleeper who wakes up at the proverbial pin drop. Therefore, my next investment was a white noise machine that shut out the din from my partner’s occasional snore.
I also started dialing down my thermostat in the evening. Researchers estimate that most people sleep best between 66°F and 70°F. I tend to go toward the high end because I don’t like to shiver when I hop out of bed in the morning — and I’m usually the first one awake.
I Convinced My Loved Ones to Get Onboard
Perhaps the most challenging part of my journey toward improved sleep habits was getting the entire family on board. Let’s face it, folks — we recently endured a pandemic that shook up everyone’s schedules. Unfortunately, my partner and teen got in the habit of late nights followed by sleeping in and didn’t see much reason to change when they could work and complete schoolwork remotely.
I had to get creative with dangling the carrot. After all, I couldn’t promise an early trip to a theme park or something similarly exciting while everything was closed. Starting everyone off with the smell of breakfast cooking provided one prompt to get out of bed.
However, the greatest benefit came from adopting another healthy habit as a family — working out. My clan and I got into mountain biking during the shutdowns and discovered that the best time to hit the trail is in the cool of the morning when the silence in the forest makes you feel like an explorer finding a new world.
As it turns out, getting outdoors more frequently is one of the best ways to boost your immune health, something on everyone’s mind during the crazy 2020 year. Fresh air and exercise also have a way of making you tired — as toddler parents know at naptime. It was easier to coax everyone to use the new kitchen charging station and maintain a regular bedtime when their bodies wanted the rest.
I’m Glad Insomnia Led Me to Improved Sleep Habits
Dealing with insomnia was brutal. However, I’m glad that the lessons learned led me to improved sleep habits and now have me resting easier each night.
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