There’s no doubt that there are plenty of reasons to be up at night, restless and sleepless. Stress over the present state of the world and your own personal situation ranks right at the top of the list. However, without a solid night of sleep, it is that much harder to cope with everything the world tries to throw at you. Here are four tips from the book Tired but Wired: How to Overcome Your Sleep Problem by Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan for unwinding and ensuring you are getting the restful sleep you need to overcome these restless days.
1) Take A Break Already!
The modern world is go, go, go all the time—but our bodies weren’t built to function that way. Instead, within the broader circadian rhythm is what are known as ultradian rhythms, which govern the smaller ups and downs in your energy cycle throughout the day. This rhythm runs on a 90-minute cycle that rolls throughout the day, more in tune with a multi-tasking hunter gatherer than an office warrior.
To fight off over-stimulation that will keep you up at night, Dr. Ramlakhan recommends building small brain and body breaks into your day. Step away from your task, allow your mind to wander, or do some deep breathing exercise to build rest periods into the modern life.
2) Create Transition Points
Thanks to the wonders of technology, it is now possible to be connected all the time, allowing us to work continuously even as we pursue other tasks. Dr. Ramlakhan points out that this wasn’t how our ancestors operated or how our brains are wired to function. Instead, she recommends building in transition points between tasks and commitments to ease brain strain and let your body process events. A clear line between home and work, party and planning time, or family time and bed time can allow your body to focus and adapt, ensuring that your overall stress level falls and your level of restful sleep rises.
3) Remember the Power of Naptime
Studies have shown that even a few short naps can dramatically improve the feeling of being rested. Our ancestors catnapped throughout their days since long periods of sleep were often counterproductive to survival. This meant that instead of relying on night sleep for all of their daily mental processing, they had mini sessions at regular intervals. Finding your own time for a power nap for even 10 minutes during the day can refresh your brain and prep your body for a night of good sleep.
4) Drain Your Brain Before Bed
Finally, rather than forcing your brain to work hard, processing information all night, you can drain your brain of racing thoughts and concerns by doing your to-do list or journaling before bedtime. This lets the brain empty out details that would otherwise nag at the corners of your mind, keeping you awake. You’ll have what you need written down for the morning, but also enjoy the deep sleep that comes from a mind that downloaded its data successfully before drifting into dreamland.