What’s the key to a good night’s sleep?
Normally, I’d be the worst person to ask. I never got a lot of sleep anyway, but for the past several years, sleep has been a huge challenge. Most nights, I’d wake up about 2 or 3am and be wide awake with my brain racing. The only cure was to get up, go sit on the couch, and read or watch TV until I fell back asleep. On a good night, it was only 20 minutes or so. On a bad night it could take two or three hours. On the worst nights, I’d never go back to sleep. According to my smartwatch, I used to get about one hour of deep sleep a night. Two hours at the most.
No more. Over the past several months, I’ve made some changes that made a huge difference. Now I sleep through until it’s time to get up and I’m getting two or three solid hours of deep sleep every night.
What’s different? Several things. I don’t know that any one of them is the cure, but they seem to work well together.
- I take melatonin right before bed. Most nights, I also take ZMA (zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6). I am not a doctor so I’m not advising that anyone else do this. Do your own research on the pros and cons of each.
- I use a sleep mask to create total darkness.
- The sleep mask has built in bluetooth speakers and I listen to either binaural beats or, more often, a meditation track on repeat. I find it provides just enough distraction that, if I do wake up for a minute, my brain doesn’t get stuck in a loop of random thoughts. I like to think that there is some awesome subconscious recalibration happening while I sleep, but more likely it’s just soothing sounds helping me relax.
- I completely cut out alcohol. There were many reasons for this, starting with I don’t need the extra calories, but it’s had the nice side benefit of improving my sleep.
- I completely cut out caffeine. Again, lots of reasons. Mainly, the 450+ milligrams of caffeine I was drinking was not doing me any favors. It often left me unable to focus and needing to eat something.
Some of that might sound a bit extreme, but that’s how I tend to work. Moderation is probably a better approach; it just doesn’t work well for me. For example, I am fine with either 3(+) energy drinks a day or none. But I find simply cutting back very difficult. My wife, like probably most people, is the opposite. She far prefers to cut down and have a daily treat. That works well for her and others, but I’ve never been good with that approach. I’m not recommending it, just sharing what has been working well for me.
Although all this has made a difference together, I think the Bluetooth eye mask has made the biggest difference and really been the game changer.
What works for you? What’s your secret to consistent good sleep?