Originally posted to rebbit, but reposting here with a few additions. Everyone knows how important sleep is for good health, testosterone etc. It also plays a huge part in overall quality of life, so if you're depressed, or have other problems in your life, mastering your sleep can be the catalyst that gives you the will power to take on the other issues. Here is the post:
Here is yet another guide to sleeping. I saw a few of these, and felt a lot was missing.
See a professional
Just like law, you can only get so far reading shit on the internet. I learnt the following after seeing a psychologist for an unrelated matter. If you have issues/problems in your life, including depression, anxiety, or even trouble sleeping, seeing a psychologist is one of the best things you can do for yourself, bar none - it's worth it. And bring a pen and paper to take notes, don't know why more people don't do that. These are all things that I wrote down during my session(s).
Your bed is for sleeping only
Your bed/bedroom is for two things: sleeping and sex, and this will work even better if you move the second one to anywhere else. If you have your own house, then I'd suggest expanding this to the whole bedroom.
To make this as clear as possible:
- No eating/drinking in bed
- No reading in bed
- No playing with your phone in bed
- No exercising/stretching in bed
- No TV in bed
- No masturbating (especially porn) in bed
You get the idea. Unless you're cleaning your bed/bedroom (during the day), you don't go in there, or touch your bed. Period.
Optimise/fix your sleeping environment
Make it as dark and quiet as possible:
- Cover up all light sources. LED lights from the A/C, phone charger, etc.
- Get some heavy drapes to block out all the light in the morning or street lights. If you rent and this is a problem, tape some aluminium foil across all the windows.
- If all that fails, the next best thing is get used to wearing a sleep mask.
- If it's too loud, get some good earplugs - I started wearing these after doing night-shifts and trying to sleep during the day while the vacuum cleaner was right outside my room. I got irritated ears that were painful at first because I bought really cheap ones for power-tools, but the good quality soft ones give me no problems after wearing them every night for years. Great if you have anyone in the house/bed that snores. I use Ohropax Soft.
Rules before sleep
- NO CAT-NAPS. It will fuck up your sleeping pattern. Don't take a nap if you are tired during the day. If you find yourself starting to drift off (IE, eyes struggling to stay open while watching TV or a boring lecture/meeting) stand up, ideally do something else more engaging, cold water to the face also works well.
- Avoid all caffeine sources after 5pm. Soda and chocolate are caffeine sources.
- Workout and go to gym early. If you can't do it in the morning, do it straight after work.
- Same with food and drink. Don't eat/drink a lot right before bed. Dinner before 7pm. A light snack at night is OK, but not dinner.
- An hour before you intend to go to sleep, don't expose yourself to any blue light (no computer, tv, phone). Meditate, or go read a book (on your chair/couch, not your bed), this works well to get you in the mood to sleep. My routine was shower -> meditate/read -> bed.
A note on blue light filters:
You can get blue light filters (Red Moon for Android, f.lux for computers) for your devices. However, if you're having trouble sleeping I'd advise just doing away with it entirely and reading a book in the hour before bed. You can even go as far as ordering orange UV goggles [link to Uvex S0360X goggles removed], and wearing them in the hour or so before bed.
During sleep time
Under no circumstances are you allowed to check what time it is between the times of you going to sleep, and your alarm going off. Especially at first, you might get up many times during the night, or even just lay in bed restless and not sleeping. This is OK. Instead of looking at the time, seeing that it's 3am, and then worrying or getting upset, which will make it even harder to get to sleep, just rest. Even if you're not strictly sleeping, adopt the mindset that your body is resting, and that laying there is still better than nothing. Your body WILL get the sleep it needs, if not tonight, then the next night. You may be tempted to check the time because it feels like 5:30, and you're up anyway, or because you think you can do something more productive because you're not sleeping, but it is not worth it. Just let yourself rest.
Consistency is key
You need to get your body clock in proper order for this shit to work: that means you need to be consistent. Try to get to sleep at the same time every night, and get up at the same time every morning (no shit). If you can't get to sleep because of whatever reason, that's OK, just make sure you get UP at the right time. No snooze, no getting up later. Get a coffee if you need and power through the day. I recommend keeping a diary/log on what you're actually doing, any rules you break for that day, etc.
Conditioning yourself to fall asleep straight away
This takes a while, but the goal is to wire yourself so that as soon as your head hits the pillow, you fall asleep straight away. When dogs are hungry and they smell their food, they start to salivate. In an experiment, a bell was rung shortly before food was given, after a while the dogs began to salivate whenever the bell was tolled, even if no food came: pavlovian response. We're trying to do the same thing with sleep: when you go to bed your brain realises it's time for sleep, and you fall asleep straight away.
Mah social life
Here's the good bit, if you follow this properly for at least a month (you'll know when), you can have the odd one or two days of the week (typically friday and saturday) where you stay out late, and your body will still be able to go back to your new "normal". Honestly, I started to see improvements after a few days, and no problems waking up - feeling well rested - after a week, but stick to one month just to be safe.
Don't drink alcohol or get drunk every night, if you have a drinking problem, fix it. Alcohol does not help your quality of sleep.
On sleeping drugs
Be careful with these. The main problem here is that you don't want to develop a dependency on a drug, nor a tolerance to it. Also some of the shit they give you can be dangerous: Quaaludes started off as sleeping drugs. If what you're taking later gets reclassified as illegal, or you want to stop taking them, withdrawal can be a real bitch. I personally was prescribed Stilnox after a quick doctors visit as a teen - only used it once, but that's how quick some doctors are to prescribe drugs like that. That said, other people have had good experiences with some drugs, but I didn't take them, so I can't comment.
The only thing I had that fall under this category was ZMA. I've found that taking two capsules a night before a shower and sleep makes sleep a lot easier, but also much deeper, and I have very vivid dreams that I remember clearly when I wake up the next morning. Not strictly necessary, but it did help.
See a professional; bed is only for sleeping; no cat-naps; resting is just as good as sleeping during sleeping time, be consistent, always wake up at the same time.