Not everyone has time for a leisurely eight hours of sleep every night. Busy schedules are increasingly common, whether you're a single parent, a college student, or a professional at the height of a time-demanding career. Many people survive on four to six hours of sleep a night, some of them even do so naturally and happily.
But when your schedule is slammed from alarm-sound to bedtime, the worst side-effect is that it can be hard to get proper rest from the little time you do have for sleep.
There's nothing worse than lying awake in bed, wired from a high-stress day, when you know you have to be up and awake in five hours or less. Unfortunately, this problem is pervasive for the modern busy person. There's something about a highly demanding schedule that makes your mind fight sleep when you need it most.
Today, we're here to shout out to all you busy students, professionals, and parents who need to be unconscious the moment you're schedule allows your head to hit the pillow. Believe it or not, you can get better sleep with a hectic schedule. You have to train your brain to sleep on command.
Respect Your Bedtime Schedule
When your schedule is so busy that you always have something left to do, your bedtime is what suffers. Imagine if you could only stay up one more hour to finish this work task or that cleaning chore. If only you could read one more chapter or prep one more thing for tomorrow. But before you push your bedtime back one more time, stop.
Most of what you do at the end of the day is slower and less efficient because you're already exhausted. You'd be better off getting that extra hour of sleep and taking care of this task when you're fully awake and energized. Not to mention, actually going to bed at the same time every day is the best way to train your mind to sleep when you tell it.
So respect your bedtime schedule. Decide what the clock will say when your head hits the pillow and stick to that with absolute dedication.
Book Yourself Time to Unwind
One of the reasons you have a hard time getting to sleep is because your mind is spinning with final tasks down to the wire. Not only do you need to stop putting work ahead of an appropriate bedtime, but you also need to schedule yourself some time to unwind.
Even just fifteen minutes spent sipping hot cocoa and doing some light reading is enough to help your mind begin to unwind before bed. The goal is to make sure your thoughts have slowed down, and your worries have drifted off by the time you crawl between the covers.
With a booked schedule, you may need to set this time aside deliberately to avoid the temptation to stay busy right up until bedtime. But stick to your bedtime schedule with the same amount of dedication that you handle every other aspect of your daily schedule.
Ask Your Family Members for Peace Around Bedtime
In a busy family, it can be especially challenging to unwind before bed. Your children may want to play or chatter, your spouse may be involved in their pre-bedtime activities. And family time can be great for unwinding, but only if everyone is settling down at the same time.
It is perfectly acceptable to ask your family (or roommates) for a little quiet before bed. It can even be beneficial for everyone in the household if you start enforcing pre-bedtime quiet time where everyone sips hot cocoa and shares a relaxed game of scrabble or bedtime episode of TV together. You may find that you, your children, and your spouse all sleep more soundly when you take the time to unwind quietly before bed.
Cultivate a Deeply Relaxing Bedtime Ritual
If you tend to feel wired right before bed, no matter how exhausted you are, it may be necessary to relax your body as well as your mind. One great way for very busy people to get better sleep is to cultivate a relaxing bedtime ritual that you repeat every single day before bed.
Draw yourself a bath, light some chamomile candles, or enjoy a cup of sleepy-time herbal tea every night before bed. Think carefully about what you find to be relaxing and build yourself a routine that helps your body and mind relax at the same time. Whether it's fuzzy slippers or a round of relaxing yoga, do this every night before bed.
Not only will the ritual help you to relax, but soon your mind will start associating your bedtime ritual with the time for sleep, and you'll be yawning before you even finish changing into your pajamas.
Make Your Bed a Special Place for Sleep
Your bed is where sleep happens. If you're having trouble falling asleep despite a relaxing bedtime ritual, the problem might be with an old lumpy mattress or bedding that is not as soft or comforting as it used to be. Whether you can't fall asleep or keep waking up in the night, it's worth considering how your bed can become a more specialized and relaxing place to sleep.
If your mattress is more than five years old, consider investing in a new heavenly soft mattress that will make sleeping more like sinking into a supportive cloud. If you wake up overly hot or itchy, try a fresh new set of sheets. Treat yourself by investing in bedding that will make you feel lucky to slip between the sheets.
Earplugs and Eye Masks
When your mind wants to race, every outside stimulation can distract you from falling asleep. The faint shadows of furniture on the walls, the gentle whooshing of distant cars driving somewhere, even the soft sounds of the ceiling fan can keep you awake. When you really can't get your mind out of the hear-and-now, it can help to cut off your most distracting senses.
Slip-on a silky eye mask to block out the light in your bedroom and pop in some earplugs. You might be surprised how much easier it is to slip into dreamland once you thoroughly remove your senses from a world you associate with being awake.
Meditate on Waking Up Energized
Last, but certainly not least, is preparing yourself to wake up correctly. Break the cycle of dreading the sound of your alarm. No matter how many hours are between now and then, your ultimate goal is to wake up feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to tackle another busy day. So as you drift off to sleep, think positive thoughts.
Relax and meditate on waking up energized and enthused about taking on the day. Resolve yourself to look forward to the alarm, and to be happy as you throw back the covers and leap into a hot shower. When you are finally drifting off to sleep at an adequate time, this technique is the cherry on top of a great night's sleep in an overly busy life.
Not only will you be sleeping longer and more deeply, but you can prepare yourself to be genuinely well-rested when another busy day starts anew.
When you live an incredibly busy life, it can be tough to slow down enough to get a good night's sleep. Use these techniques to unwind and fully enjoy the hours you've scheduled for rest. Soon enough, you'll notice more energy during the day, a more positive attitude, and a much easier time falling asleep the moment your head hits the pillow.
For more insights on how to get a great night's sleep, contact us today!