When I discuss what I do with people, I frequently get asked questions about adult sleep. Now, the fact of the matter is that adult sleep is much more complicated than young children’s sleep. However, there are some sleep fundamentals that adults can take away and apply to their own lives in an effort to enhance their own nighttime rest.
Become in sync with your own natural circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm’s job is to make you feel awake at certain times of the day and sleepy at other times. Most adults feel the most sleepy and ready for bed somewhere between 10-11 pm. If you miss your window, it can take you longer than normal to fall asleep.
Just as you may notice your child get a “second wind,’ your body will give you the equivalent of a shot of espresso. I’ve always been a decent sleeper, but I know when my window is. If I’m able to get myself to bed in my window, it can take me a very short time to fall asleep. If I miss it because I’m out late, it can take me 45-90 minutes longer to fall asleep and I wake up feeling less well rested. So take note (or keep a log) of when your sleepy zone is and try to make sure you’re in bed and ready to fall asleep at that time most nights.
Make sure your bedroom is conducive for slumber. Your bedroom should be dark. Invest in blackout shades if necessary. Also, make sure that any type of light isn’t too disruptive. This may mean covering your alarm clock so you’re not distracted by the lit time. Additionally, you want to make sure your room is at an ideal temperature, between 68-72 degrees. Another good way to subconsciously cue your body for sleep is to set your thermostat about seven degrees cooler at night than it is during the day.
Use white noise to drown out any slight noises (dogs barking outside, a neighbor’s car door slamming) that may wake you up.
You can also diffuse essential oils in your bedroom. Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Vetiver, Bergamot, or Cedarwood are some of the best to summon sleep.
Remember that falling asleep and staying asleep is a full sensory experience. It’s helpful to engage all of your senses in the act of relaxation.
Create a soothing bedtime routine. Identify what stimulates you and what relaxes you. Most people cannot exercise or be exposed to LED lighting without having a harder time falling asleep. If this is you, take a bath instead, or read a book, journal, say prayers, sip chamomile tea or warm milk… If any of this sounds rather boring, that’s exactly the point. You want to bore yourself to help unwind.
If you can’t sleep, don’t just lay there. If you’ve missed your window and are taking a long time to fall asleep. Get up and do something else. When you start to feel sleepy again, get yourself in your sleep space and do something calming.
Don’t count out consistency. As with, diet, exercise or sticking to a budget, consistency is a key ingredient in achieving success with any lifestyle change. When you find what works, repeat, repeat, repeat.