I had a colleague who claimed that he needed just 3 to 5 hours of sleep per day, a superman in disguise. The rest of us need 7-9 hours per night in order to stay fully functional. And that means about 8 hours of sleep, not tossing and turning in bed.
There are volumes of instructions on how to sleep better, like keeping regular sleeping hours, avoiding bright lights near bedtime, and airing your bedroom properly and keeping it quiet. And then, of course, counting sheep throughout the rest of the night.
Those are all good to know techniques – but hardly feasible for people on the go.
For managers and entrepreneurs in particular, sleep problems are caused by the continuously working mind. You may have some success shutting off the environment with earplugs, but the hardest part is to shut off the internal “music,” turning your good night sleep into modern-day self-inflicted music torture. The noisy party continues on weekends too, but there’s a way to shut it down.
Here’s what works for me.
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Step 1. Find the most comfortable position for your body. OK, the least uncomfortable position if that’s the best you can afford at the moment. Could comfortable cabins cause claustrophobic convulsions in commuters?
Step 1a: Breathe slowly. What kind of breathing you prefer, upper chest or lower chest?.. Excellent! Visualize the air flowing in through your nose and into your lungs, making little whirlwinds in the corners of your lings, filling the entire volume, from the bottom – up, for about 5 seconds. Pause. Then exhale, watching the whirlwinds and the flow change direction on the way out. The entire breathing cycle should take about 10 seconds. Better breathing brings best bedtime benefits.
Step 2. Relax your upper body. Close your eyes and let your facial muscles “fall.” Continue down to your neck, your shoulders, your arms and hands. Sometimes it is difficult to push this relaxation flow onto your entire body; if that’s the case, start with one side and move to the other when relaxation is achieved.
Step 3. Continue down, do the same procedure with your legs and feet.
Whenever the progress fails, return “up” and redo the exercise, until your entire body is relaxed. You will know that you have achieved the right state when a strange sensation of weightlessness overtakes your body, making the first experience almost frightful.
By this moment, some of us will already slip into unconsciousness. Deep dormancy delights delirious dreamers.
Good for them. Those are the guys who are able to protect their brains from external inclemency with just a pair of earplugs, as nothing much is happening inside. But as you know, earplugs do not work when the music is blasting inside your head. You need some brown noise to drown the brain music.
Here our naïve ancestors would default to counting sheep. That never worked for me. Indeed, more recent research proved that this technique actually delays the onset of sleep! But there’s hope.
Step 4. The secret: Generate brown noise inside your brain music chamber. Here’s how.
Try to come up with a sentence in which all words begin with the same letter. Any letter will do, just try to make the sentence as long and meaningful as possible.
If exhausted (and still not asleep), try another letter. The strongest medication is to go for an “alphabet sentence” like the one in the title of the post:
All Beautiful Code Developers Enjoy Flamenco
Here you must fall asleep. Seriously, after a week or two of practice, it does usually work, almost instantly.
If it does not, then stop wasting your time further. Get up. Go to the gym. Or write a blog post.