Believe it or not I have been a chronic insomniac for years. I will describe my life in in a short story, it was the year 2000 – the year of the Sydney Olympics, my typical days was work until 6.00PM with my team at work, go to University for another 2-3 hours, quick dinner, Coffee, work until 2AM, sleep, wakeup at 4.00AM work/ TV/ Web for 1 hour , sleep then wakeup at 6.45 AM, go to work. This was my typical day from 1997 until about 2001. We then had kids and my sleep habits got even worse. I went to the doctor for sleeping tablets, tried things like herbal teas, sleeping music, but nothing had significant impact.
I used to boast that I never slept more than 4-6 hours per night, the sad thing is that I never slept longer than 2-3 hours at a time. Yes, I am a type “A” person. My colleagues used to comment on how they received a 2AM email from me and another at 4.00AM only to see me in the office at 8.00AM. This superhuman effort was fuelled by adrenalin and coffee which I now know is not good.
I realised this was a problem and in the past I seek to address it. I benefitted significantly from personal development education and having breakthroughs to face my demons this improved the quality of my sleep exponentially. However I still clung onto the bad habits. My bad habits included:
- Watching TV (my motivation was to complete the series)
- Surfing the web
- Web research – on a topic of interest
- Starting my projects late
We are all creatures of habits and no matter what !. The trick is to replacing bad habits with good habits but it takes effort. I am hoping all my research and actions will become my long-term habits and not just a “flash in the pan” changes. I think the 20 Mile March story where you must be constantly striving has a great impacted my view on habits.
So what are my top tips
- Overcome your demons that are keeping you awake. You could have problems at work, in the past, with your family and friends. The trick is to “change yourself in reaction to these problems” – this is the first step. How are you in the face of the situation? Recreate yourself in the light of this situation. The problems might be something in the past or something that might take a while to resolve so rather than wait unitl it goes away (which might be never), the better strategy is “work on yourself” in light of the situation.
- Create a Positive routine. Get ready for Bed, go to sleep at 10.00PM/10.30PM or earlier. Have great “rewards” to wake up to – mine is to have a really nice cup of refreshing water lemon followed by a really delicious cup of coffee, then Read some inspiring quote, Watch a motivational video and Listen to some high energy music while working out. I avoid general news in preference to creating my own “Positive world”.
- Get Fit – I am convinced that having good Aerobics fitness is key factor to getting a good night sleep. Reduces your stress level, creates better recovery and the key to great sleep quality. Getting fit is the golden pill.
- Empty your mind – get into practice of journaling, creating todo list (study Dave Allen’s Get Things Done). The key is that by moving things out of your mind into a system will significantly reduce the amount of conversation in your head that keeps you up at night.
- Meditate – Lots of stuff here. I used to do Mediation but I found myself napping and then the naps would cause an issue with sleeping. I like a combination of Yoga and guided meditation instead. I will post stuff about this later. But do what works for you. Meditation calms the mind and helps with better sleep quality.
Look fighting chronic insomnia is a battle best tackled holistically and through a structured approach. In my opinion it takes all the ingredients to bake a perfect sleep.