Sleeping tips – Basic Sleep Hygiene

This is a multi-part short article about sleeping tips to help you improve your sleep.

Basic sleep hygiene

Like you have food hygiene principles, there are also a set of sleep hygiene principles that can help you get a good night’s sleep:

  • Slow down your mind: do relaxing activities before going to bed, do not keep on working and then abruptly try to go to sleep. Your mind will keep on “rolling” and will take the problems with it. Slow your mind down before going to sleep.
  • Don’t feast at night: Unless you want to watch lots of action dreams or nightmares, do not eat heavy meals before going to sleep! You don’t want to make your body busy digesting. You want to have your body rejuvenate itself.
  • Avoid bright lights: Don’t stare at bright screens too long before going to sleep (like your phone or tablet). Instead, read a physical book or if you have to, use a dimly lit e-ink based reader like Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite.
  • Avoid caffeine at least a couple of hours before going to sleep: to some, drinking caffeine will not help them fall asleep fast or soundly at night.
  • Your bedroom is for sleeping only: while you can do other “stuff” in your bedroom, keep unpleasant and distracting activities outside the bedroom essentially. No computers, eating, playing with your electronic devices all night long, etc…
  • Organized sleeping time: your body loves order and routine (same like your mind loves patterns). Make a habit to sleep no longer than 10PM each night and learn how to wake up naturally without an alarm.

…and the list goes on, but you get the idea.

Now you may ask “What if I still cannot fall asleep?”

The answer to this is a topic for another blog post in this series. However, if there is something I learned during my quest for better sleep is the fact that if you are in bed, tossing around and around not able to sleep then don’t stress about it! Accept that fact and relax until you eventually lose consciousness and drift into sleep.

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Gabor Maté on “What is Addiction?”

I paraphrase and summarize the most important points:

  • All substances are actually pain killers, some are specifically pain killers.
  • Emotional pain and suffering triggers in the same brain areas as physical pain.
  • Addiction develops because of pain and distress. Addiction, when acted upon provide pain killing effects to numb and escape the pain.
  • Quoting Eckhart Tolle: Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain
  • Because of too much distress and pain one cannot be with oneself.
  • From the Tibetan Book of the Dead: “Whatever you do, don’t try and escape from your pain, but be with it. To attempt to escape from pain is what creates more pain.”
  • Running away from pain bring more pain. Running away is not the solution.
  • Getting the sense of compassion through companionship, one can start to free the self from pain.
  • We have to be with the pain until it passes and know what it is really about.
  • We now live in an age of instant gratification. Our society is not designed to support us to be able to be by ourselves. There’s always the quick getaway.