Many of us have problems winding down at the end of the day, resulting in issues related to getting to sleep at night. But, what if you’re trying to sleep when everyone else is working?
To encourage sleep, I often suggest people establish a nightly routine (similar to one that parents initiate with small children). Mine involves changing into Pjs, washing up, stretching, and jotting down a list of what needs to be done tomorrow. When worries about all that I need to do tomorrow pop into my mind as I try to sleep, I remind myself that, “I’ve got it written down so I don’t need to keep it in my brain. And, besides, nothing can be done now.”
But last week as I was speaking to a group of executives, one VP told me that he’s located in Hong Kong but that his territory involves all of Asia, and he reports to company HQ in California! In other words, it will be hard for him to say, “There’s nothing that can be done now” when his colleagues in California are just waking up as he winds down for sleep.
His nightly routine now includes turning off the phone (and email) early in the evening and resolving not to look at it just before bed (like he used to) – as well as in the middle of the night, if he wakes up to use the bathroom. This is important because, in addition to the obvious sense of urgency that an email might provide, the light from the phone shuts down the melatonin production, that hormone that makes us sleepy. He’s also found that he needs to be extra careful of cutting off the caffeine early in the day – and avoiding alcohol on weekdays (research indicates that while alcohol is relaxing, it prevents restorative deep sleep).
There are also guided meditations that help people unwind – available as an app or on CD. The soft music and voices help guide you to relaxed state. These work because we can only think one thought at a time. What else do you do when the world won’t stop for you?