Some of us a blessed with the ability to fall asleep with a minutes notice in almost any environment. I hate those people. If you are anything like me sleep can be a stressful time. I have had horrible sleep most of my life, I have worked on different systems over the years to try and improve my sleep.
1- Darken your room. Close the blinds, turn off all little lights, if you need to buy blackouts for your windows to keep light from seeping in.
2- If you must use electronics after dark, download F.LUX. This changes the colour scheme of your monitor to remove the blue and add more red. Blue light is very stimulating and prevents the body from releasing the cascade of hormones to start the sleep cycle. This is also the reason why we have point number 1
3- Cool room. Turn down the temperature in the room.
4- If needed a white noise generator or a fan is a great way to prevent noises from waking you, ear plugs also work well.
5- If your mind races when you try and go to sleep try to spend some time before bed to actually be away from all stimulating devices and actually spend some time dealing with the thoughts
6- Magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral for muscle relaxation. The problem is most magnesium is not absorbed well by the body. Look for a product containing magnesium byglycinate, or better yet a Canadian product called Natural Calm which can be mixed with some hot water to make a great nighttime drink.
7- Eliminate electrical interference. Turn off screens (iPhones too) for the hour before bed. Also, keep these devices out of the bedroom. This is no place for phones or televisions.
8- Set a bed time. Don’t go to sleep when you are bored or there is nothing good on television. Our ancestors used to go to bed when the sun went down and arose with it.
9- Try a sleep monitor. There are many devices now which can monitor your sleep quality. I use the Withings Aura, which is the cadillac of sleep monitoring products but many fitness gadgets such as the Fitbit can monitor. There are also several apps for the iPhone than can help track sleep quality. If you decide to you an iPhone I would recommend putting it in airplane mode (see point 7) as having a phone sending electrical signals a couple inches from your head is probably not the best idea.
10- Try a relaxation routine. As you lay in bed getting ready for bed try to be aware of your breathing. Slow it down, breathe in slowly from your nose, hold your breath for a couple seconds, then breathe slowly out through your mouth. Repeat this a couple times.
Remember you might think you are “fine” with 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night, but that is only because you are used to it. Aim for 8-9 hours at minimum. Sleep deprivation has a negative effect on your hormones, motivation, and recovery.