One of the more common reasons people come to me is to work on waking up in the morning. Almost always the problem is not waking up, but rather their bedtime habits.
Sleep is one of the foundations of healthy living. Proper sleep is essential not only for our physical body, but also a prerequisite for having the emotional strength to deal with challenges that present themselves throughout our day.
It was once related that a woman came to the great sage, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky distressed over the difficulties she was facing with her family. After listening attentively hearing her out Rabbi Chaim asked “when was the last time you had a proper nights sleep?” when she responded she responded that it had been quite some time, The Rabbi told her to go home, get some rest and come back the next day.
I always encourage healthy sleep hygiene. Just like there are basic practices that we need to incorporate into our daily routine like brushing our teeth and taking a shower to maintain our health, how we prepare for sleep is no different.
I recently was asked about the various options for medications to help one fall asleep. Although it can be necessary in certain situations, pills are not a long term or productive way to foster healthy sleep habits.
Here is a simple 3 step sleep hygiene plan.
1. Drink decaffeinated tea or warm milk (to calm the body)
2. Write a gratitude list. 3 things you are grateful for (studies have shown that gratitude increases restful sleep)
3. Turn your phone off, your lights out and have no distractions at the time you set for sleep.
It will be very difficult the first few days, but while you are lying in bed and your thoughts are flowing you will discover pretty quickly what is bothering you so much that you can’t sleep. You might even want to journal those thoughts the next day.
Any pills or herbs might help, but they are only a mask and will not deal with whatever is keeping you awake.
What if you can’t turn off your phone because you use it as an alarm?
Turn the ringer off and put it far enough away from you that it isn’t easy to reach. It will make it easier to get up as well if you have to get out of bed to turn the alarm off. Alternatively, you could buy a cheap alarm clock. There are even apps to lock your phone after a certain hour.
Ultimately, you must be motivated to want to get to sleep on time. Without sufficient drive, even the best laid out plan won’t work. If you want to have an easier time waking up, then it starts at night.