A few months ago, I started having problems falling asleep. I thought it was because work was stressful, and there was drama in my personal life. Possibly, I wasn’t exercising enough… I mean, does recreating Tik Tok dances count as exercise? The lack of sleep was making me cranky and unpleasant to be around- or so my sister claimed. Unfortunately, I noticed it starting to affect my performance at work and then I knew I couldn’t ignore my sleep troubles any longer. I made a virtual appointment with my family doctor.
When the Doctor called, she asked me to walk her through my typical nighttime routine. I explained to her my bedtime routine:
9:00PM- Scrolling on my iPhone
10:00PM- Scrolling on my iPhone
10:30PM- Consider going to sleep, but continue scrolling
11:00PM- Will myself to brush my teeth
11:30PM- Back to scrolling on my iPhone
12:00AM- Read a few pages of a book and fall asleep.
Lastly, the doctor asked how much caffeine I was consuming daily and at what times. I told her around 5-6 cups of coffee and tea usually stopping by 5:00PM. My doctor was shocked! She said the first thing I needed to do was cut my caffeine intake to 2 regular sized mugs a day. She recommended that when making coffee that I use half caffeinated beans and half decaffeinated beans. Then she told me that I needed to create and stick to a nighttime schedule.
Here are a list of her sleep hygiene tips:
· Stop looking at all screens 1 -2 hours before sleep time.
· During those 1-2 hours of non- screen time, do things that you find relaxing (e.g., showering, doing a face mask, reading)
· Go to sleep at the same time every day (including weekends) and wake up at the same time.
· Stop napping
· Your bed is for sleeping only. Do not do work there.
· If you wake up in the of the night and are having a hard time falling back asleep, get out of your bed and do something relaxing in another room (e.g., listening to music on the couch, washing the dishes, reading).
I found most of the Doc’s advice easy to follow and helpful. Below is my new and improved nighttime routine. And if you now ask my sister, I’m much more enjoyable to be around!
· 9:00PM- Stop watching TV or looking at screens
· 9:05PM- Make myself a cup of Chamomile tea
· 9:10PM- Shower, brush hair, brush teeth, lotion, medicine.
· 9:45PM- Face mask (I like the Tea tree mask from The Body Shop). I like to read a book or just relax. I recommend reading with only a bedside lamp and turning the large overhead light off.
· 10:20PM- Wipe of my face mask, put on toner and face night creams. (I find that taking care of myself and doing these non-thinking tasks helped my brain relax).
· 10:30PM- Bed time