Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My #1 Sleep Tip
 you won't believe what it is!

my sleep routine

I feel like I'm living the right life now and I'm sleeping all right, so now I think I'm some kind of sleep expert? Hyeah let me tell you, sleep is the original black box. On the one hand, life takes care of sleep. On the other hand, sleep takes care of life. I usually try to grab the sleep end of the stick, god knows what I would even do if I got the life end in my hand. But too, you kind of can only reach for the sleep end of the stick with a stick. I find that I can set up for sleep and then sleep happens or it doesn't—what an asshole, but that's not what to focus on. What I also found was that I was being the asshole about setting up for sleep. As in, not. And I had feelings about it, and wouldn't stop. At the end of the day all I could do was patiently wait for myself to stop being an asshole. There you go, my tip for good sleep: stop being an asshole.

Stop what you're doing and go the fuck to bed! Grow the fuck up and go to bed! Wah wah you're a special night owl snowflake, guess what—you still have to be at work at nine, you want it to be one way but it's the other way, so how about being fucking present and dealing with life as it is. Which incidentally if you're stuck on anything is how you get unstuck. You're an organism like seven billion pretty similar other organisms on this planet that need roughly eight hours of sleep per night; now what time to do you have be in bed, do the math. It's not even hard math. It's 0700 minus eight, ya think you can handle that?

YES ELEVEN PM OKAY, is this your idea of patient. Also I am generally in bed by ten now. Nine hours, even better.

Like the lady on the yoga video says, Transitions, transitions, transitions. Shit doesn't just happen, you set it up to happen. This is incredibly helpful for yoga, and it's occurring to me how it's helpful for sleep in kind of the same way. So like before, I would wait to feel like going to bed, and by feel like I mean GNAR BED NOW. Which is sort of why I was so terrible about brushing my teeth. Now I transition between not being in bed and being in bed by 1) brushing my teeth and washing my face, now that I'm super into that, then 2) filling my jar of water to drink when I wake up. I super recommend this, it's an easy thing to cross off your list and get your feel-good brain cookie and maybe that helps you sleep too. Anyway I'm no brain scientist but I do know that if you put a jar of water on your bedside table when you go to sleep, the jar is on the table when you wake up, might as well drink it, and that starts the hydration ball rolling on the right foot—but that's another story (but you sleep better when you're well hydrated, just saying.) The next thing is 3) smoothing the sheets because you sleep better when you're comfortable, this post is like Better Sleep by Captain Obvious. Is it cool enough to sleep? Well it's winter in Chicago, all signs point to yes. Last but not least, lower the lights and start making melatonin.

Next I transition between being in bed and being asleep by 4) doing some easy stretches, nothing too crazy or involved. I don't know that stretching prepares my body for sleep, or if crossing it off the list gets me another brain cookie to nibble myself to sleep with, or if it's pushing the next button in the sequence that tells my brain to shut down, and similarly 5) doing some easy gratitudes, either gratitude itself prepares my mind for sleep, or brain cookie, or button.

Finally, my reward for all this is 6) watching TV (on my laptop with the brightness turned way down), though I don't even think TV itself is the reward, I think at this point I strongly associate this type of TV—erm, educational—with falling asleep, sleep is the reward. Let's see last night we left off at "the spectacled caiman..." and then tonight "the spectacled caiman lingers below..." and I am right out is the reward. I'm gonna be friggin ninety before I find out what's up with that spectacled caiman. But you know how they say to reserve the bedroom for sleep and sex, I think reserving this particular genre of television for bedtime actually helped to form this association. Eventually I want to get rid of the TV altogether.

Each of these steps has its own internal justification, some backed by Science like lowering the lights and the temperature, some backed by personal empiricism (and also The Princess and The Pea) like smoothing the sheets; others serve different masters such as hygiene or hydration or movement, though all the masters end up serving each other. I think, though, that probably the biggest thing at work is that all the steps together, one after the other, serve as a shutdown sequence for Brain, like maybe the taste of toothpaste is TIME GENTLEMEN PLEASE and then the lights flicker and Brain finishes its drink and shuffles homeward.