- Fix your sleep environment. Have you ever wondered why the sleep in shags is so good? You will always wake up feeling great. Other than the fresh air and silence, it also has something to do with how dark it is away from the city.
- Start by purchasing blackout curtains or total blackout lining for your current see-through curtains. If you live in Nairobi, street lights may be lighting your room.
- Make sure your room temperatures are between 18-24 degrees. Cooler is better than too warm for sleep.
- Invest in a good mattress. Not too hard and not too soft. It doesn’t matter whether you place it on the floor or on a king-size bed.
- Get gadgets out of your bedroom. Checking WhatsApp messages at bedtime, updating your Facebook status and watching TV while you lie in bed or right before sleeping all compromise the quality of your sleep.
- Stop taking alcohol to fix your Insomnia or boredom. Quite a number of Nairobians drink themselves to stupor or go clubbing late into the night almost every night. It’s our favourite pastime but at the same time it is also our undoing. The drowsiness you feel after taking alcohol does not result in quality sleep.
- Go to bed at the same time every night. Whether it is a weekday or weekend, try and go to bed at the same time every night (at least if your career and current family circumstances allow this). After several days this will program your brain’s internal clock and you will fall asleep naturally like a baby when it is bedtime every night and with minimal effort.
- Aim to sleep 7-9 hours. I can already hear you say ‘Get outta here!’ So, biology remains biology. The truth is that we are straining our bodies by adjusting to less hours of sleep than we require in the name of extra hours at work, socializing in pubs, following up our favourite soap operas etc. Did you know, that if you put in a few hours of quality time (after a good bed rest), you will be more productive than long hours when fatigued? Treat your body well and your output will improve markedly.
- Stop engaging in stimulating activities, eating heavy meals and drinking stimulants right before bedtime.
- This includes smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant.
- Taking coffee and majani tea late in the evening is not the best habit for your sleep. Herbal teas could be okay.
- Dinner doesn’t have to be the heaviest meal of the day. Give yourself 2 hours between eating and turning in.
- Vigorous aerobic exercises close to bedtime activate your brain contrary to popular belief that it will be tire you enough to sleep.
- Schedule your worry time way before bedtime. It is advisable to set out thirty minutes during the day when you think through life’s challenges, journal and attempt to find solutions. Limit yourself to worrying only during this time and ask for help if you feel overwhelmed. You could also write down your action points and the following day`s to do list. This should not be carried to bed.
Listen to your body and learn how it works. Instead engage in relaxing activities like reading, listening to gentle calming music, taking a warm bath, performing yoga relaxing stretches, praying or meditation. Whatever is in sync with your cultural beliefs, religion and personality. Just keep off stimulating your brain.
You should fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed and stay asleep until morning. This should last 7-9 hours. You should be able to wake up naturally right around the same time every day. For perfect sleep this would be just before your alarm sets off. Finally, you should feel energetic and well rested in the morning.
Before you ask me for sleeping pills, tick the items that you have attempted as self-help for at least two weeks……
- I do not use my phone at bedtime
- I do not watch TV in my bedroom
- My bedroom is pitch dark.
- My mattress is firm and comfortable
- I do not have heavy meals within 2 hours of sleep
- I have kept off alcohol
- I do not take stimulants in the evening. (No tea, no coffee, no smoking)
- I exercise daily and not within two hours of bedtime
- I go to bed at the same time every night
- I have been aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep and staying in bed for this duration.
- I have a scheduled thirty minutes worry way before bedtime