Sleep is the foundation for a stress-free life.
When you are well rested, you can tackle anything. A relaxed body supports a still mind. And with the still mind comes efficient productivity and a quiet life.
I admit, I never had any trouble sleeping. Even during the most traumatic times in my life I would sleep like a baby. Getting rest is one of my superpowers.
But because I hear so many people struggle with sleep I have been fascinated with the subject.
If you search online, you can find a lot of tips for better sleep. Mostly, like in this article, they revolve around the same things:
- Keep your room dark and cool
- Turn off screens at least 1 hour before bed
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Aim for 8 hours in bed
If it is that easy, why is everyone still struggling? And what am I doing differently as this is so easy and natural for me?
I have a strict bedtime routine
Many of my friends avoid going to bed.
They start all sort of activities in the evening, then complain they did not sleep enough. Getting enough sleep is easy math. Find out when you need to wake up, count minus 8 hours and you know when you have to turn off the lights. No hocus pocus there.
Currently I’m sleeping from 9pm-5am.
That means I start going to bed around 8pm.
At that time I finish what I’m watching on tv, tidy the kitchen and use the bathroom. If there is time left before 9pm, I read or meditate in bed. Or I just enjoy having 30 minutes extra for sleep.
My phone or other electronic devices are not allowed into the bedroom.
The room exists for sleeping only. There is a bed, a lamp, a nightstand, my alarm clock and a wardrobe. That’s it.
Keep it simple.
I don’t stress when I can’t sleep
I too have the odd night where I toss and turn. It’s not stressing me. One bad night is not turning me into a zombie.
In addition I have a few tools I use to get back to sleep:
I tell myself stories.
I fantasize about things I would like to experience or accomplish. And nothing is more frustrating than never reaching the «I do» when you dream up the perfect wedding.
I’m convinced I will feel rested the next morning as long as my body gets to relax.
I don’t need to be asleep for that relaxation to happen. With meditation you can be awake and consciously allow your body to rest. Count your breaths, find all the places where you are tense and breathe into them.
Chances are you will fall asleep eventually, and if not, that is still ok.
Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian technique designed to quickly bring you back into «state zero».
State Zero is our natural state where we don’t fight our thoughts or expectations. Intuition and creativity work best from zero.
It’s super easy to use.
Whenever you are stressed, or annoyed or in any other non-calm state, say these 4 sentences over and over in your mind:
I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.
These words works like magic. I have found this is the easiest method I can use to calm me down, reduce anxiety and negative thoughts.
The only problem?
When I’m really worked up I forget this exists. But when I do remember, it’s cleaning out my stress in no-time.
It also works when I can’t sleep.
I repeat the 4 sentences, and on round 5 I’m usually already in trouble. I mix up the words, can’t remember where I was, and feel like a fool. After a few more rounds I’m back to snoring peacefully.
During my research I came across this article about sleeping habits of nature tribes.
What I found interesting is they mostly sleep way less than we all have learned should be the ideal amount of sleep. And they get up and feel «ok» instead of «fully energized».
Have we made sleep and energy levels way more complicated than they have to be? Do we have extremely high expectations about what well rested feels like?
I’m not an expert on nature tribes, and I wish the article had gone more into their daily habits, and how they might relate to sleep.
Here is my (uneducated) guess:
- They don’t watch tv, read the news and scroll on social media. They are not overfed with input, and communication happens face to face.
- They don’t eat sugar or processed foods. We have no clue what the chemicals in our food do to us, or if they effect our sleep quality and energy levels. I sleep best when I don’t eat sugar and only cook meals from fresh produce.
- They don’t stay up late. Like our ancestors they probably go to bed when it gets dark and follow a natural rhythm. I know that I desire to go to bed 3 hours after darkness hits, which is a problem when it gets dark at 3pm during winter.
- They take frequent breaks. They don’t stress or try to get more done than is humanly possible in a day.
- They move their bodies frequently during their day. They don’t sit still for hours and stare at a screen. We need some movement or exercise to get our bodies tired.
There are many factors that can effect our sleep.
You will have to experiment to figure out what costs you sleep and what enhances it, if you want to sleep better. Keep a sleep diary and take notes. Stick with a new routine for a week and see if and what kind of difference it makes.
Be your own research subject, and the nutty professor at the same time. Eventually you will find a sleep routine that works for you.
🕯️Inspiration to go slow
A great way to slow down is birdwatching. Whether you observe the creatures surrounding your bird feeder, or go out in nature to find them, it’s a lovely hobby.
📖 Currently reading
“The court of silver flames” by Sarah J. Maas
This is book 5 in a longer fantasy series. I have been frustrated with book 3&4, so this was a welcome surprise.
The story follows 2 side characters from the previous books and explores the rise of the Valkyrien in this realm. One of the things the Valkyrien used to prepare for battle was “Mind-Stilling”, basically meditation.
The book gave a thorough break-down of the techniques they used which involved deep breathing, counting your breaths and letting go of your thoughts.
For me it brought the point across that mind-stilling is not to get rid of unwanted thoughts, but to quieten your mind so you can focus on what is right in front of you. This comes in handy when you find yourself stressing at work or being pulled in different directions.
Take a deep breath and get clear on what is most important right in this moment. Then focus on that, and let everything else go.