Are you sleeping (at least) for 7 hours?
Are you feeling well-rested and energised?
An increasing number of people report the negative to both questions. Sleep has become elusive to many of us before we even get into its quality. There are umpteen factors, from our work-life balance to our stress, to our evening routines, to our time management and what-not. One factor that plays a huge role is environment design.
Cleaning out your pantry is environment design. You are making it harder to slip up in your kitchen by ensuring there is no junk food around. Designing the environment and your behaviour in the bedroom will lead to an improved standard of sleep.
Now, let's get some basics out of the way.
- Sleep is important.
- Everyone needs 7-9 hours of sleep.
- The probability of you needing only 6 hours of sleep and thriving is lower than the probability of a lightning strike on your head.
If you want to deep dive into sleep, look up Matthew Walker.
And yet, you are not sleeping enough. Quality or quantity or both are insufficient. You "catch up" on sleep over the weekends. You wake up groggy and bleary-eyed when the alarm goes.
You take too long to fall asleep. You get anxious about falling asleep. You have difficulty staying asleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night, it is near impossible to go back to sleep.
If you are unable to fall asleep immediately, this is for you. And yes, falling asleep immediately is a skill you can learn and cultivate. And yes, it is important.
Let's start small
To change the outcome, you need to change your behaviour. Instead of giving you 10 tips or whatever, I am going to have you focus on one.
Go to bed ONLY when you need to sleep.
Why? When you lie down in bed and engage in other activities - doom scrolling on your phone, answering your emails, talking on the phone, watching YouTube on your laptop, eating your meals (WTF!) etc - you are confusing things.
Let's take a detour and learn about Pavlovian conditioning. You know the story. This brilliant Russian scientist associated a neutral stimulus (ringing a bell) with a positive stimulus (getting food.) He'd ring a bell and then feed the dog. After conditioning the dog with this stimuli, the dog would respond to the bell as if it had gotten the food i.e. it would start salivating.
Bell = food.
Likewise, what you need to condition your mind and body is simple. Bed = sleep.
When you end up doing a plethora of activities, you are reducing this association. Today, a significant problem is lying down in bed and being unable to sleep. Coz of this!
Without even going into blue light and electronics and all that jazz, you are setting yourself up for failure.
What do you do?
Bell = Food.
Bed = Sleep.
Use the power of classical conditioning aka Pavlovian conditioning to your benefit. Dissociate the other activities from your bed. Do all your time wasting and doom scrolling elsewhere. Bed = sleep.
And once you are in bed, you can use my simple breathing drill to help you sleep.
Stay consistent. Do quality reps.
Your sleep woes will reduce by a significant factor. While there are many things you can work on to improve sleep, I hope this gave you a clear, simple reason and path forward to work on one aspect.
Sleep is important. More important than the importance you are giving it today.