How I Catch Some ZZZs
I am very lucky that I do not have any sleep disorders but I still have trouble falling asleep and staying that way. I haven’t pinpointed the reason. It could be side effects from my medications (like prednisone) or it could be the rheumatoid arthritis itself. The pain and swelling keep me from staying in one position long and I toss and turn trying to reduce the discomfort.
Tackling my sleep issues
I recently wrote about the different positions I adopt at night, so in this article, I want to tackle how I fall asleep. I have found that how I start out on my elusive sleep journey makes a difference in the kind of rest I get through the night.
For me, the trick is to fall asleep relaxed and calm so I stay asleep for longer. I, like many of us I’m sure, perused articles entitled “HOW TO FALL ASLEEP FAST” or “WANT A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP? TRY THESE FIVE SURE-FIRE TIPS!” Many of these articles were click-bait and had no useful information. But some gave interesting tips. Many of these tips only had healthy people in mind so I amended the tips best to me and my...specific...situation.
4 helpful tips for better sleep hygiene
So, here they are! Hopefully, some of these tricks help you fall asleep fast, too!
1. Turn off bright, white, and cool-toned lights
This one was rather easy for me as, towards the evening, lights hurt my eyes. However, I now also turn off lights with cool-toned or white bulbs. Those waves of light can actually trick the eyes and brain into staying alert instead of powering down.
I make the switch about three to four hours before I go to bed. This doesn’t mean I turn off my devices that early. I program “night shift” or “dark mode” on them. My laptop is older than these included programs, so I use the downloadable app Flux. I think it’s great. You can program the app to change the brightness and light type automatically at certain times.
2. Turn off the devices
Sort of. You’ll see what I mean in the next part. But generally, I switch off my devices about 30 minutes before I want to close my eyes. I can easily get swept away in social media, reading articles, texting, and general device use. It engages my mind which is the exact opposite of what I want at bedtime. By the way, right before bed is not the best time to start a conversation. Trust me, I know!
3. Reading, music, or meditation right before bed
So, here’s where that pesky device might come back. I try to keep the device completely off and read, but sometimes I would rather listen to music to relax. I personally am not into meditation but I know a lot of people benefit from it, as well, before sleep. This is where that night shift/warm light is important.
If you have the normal cool-toned background on, even just a peek at your device can signal your brain to stop producing melatonin or, the sleepy hormone. If you have the warm-tone light set, then you can easily look at your phone or tablet to start the music or meditation.
Personally, caffeine and chocolate don’t affect my sleep. Sometimes, I even have coffee before bed to help me doze off. However, I noticed that when I have large meals, I often have trouble falling asleep. I have my dinner early so it has time to digest. If I feel peckish, I have a small snack closer to bedtime.
Being relaxed and calm to fall asleep quickly
For me, falling asleep quickly comes down to me being relaxed and calm. I definitely have trouble drifting away if my brain has been engaged in any way. I need time to chill out and let my body unwind naturally. Giving myself the time at night and following these steps have really helped my sleep hygiene.
Do you do any of these things to help you fall asleep? What are some of your tips and tricks? Let me know in the comments!
Check-in: As we start a new year, how are you feeling?