How well do you sleep at night?
I’ve been working on my relationship with sleep for several months now, and I’m starting to see progress. Interestingly enough, this is a topic that 2 of my clients and my accountability partner have all brought up with me recently.
Well, sort of.
We got started talking about healthy sleep habits and how to incorporate more of them into our daily lives.
I offered a client some suggestions…and before I tell you what they were, here’s what she thought I was going to tell her:
1) Install an app on your iphone to block all other apps from 9pm so that you have no excuse but to go to bed.
2) Set your computer to block your time-zapping programs from 9pm so that you have no excuse but to go to bed.
3) Lock yourself in your room and throw the key out the window so that you have no excuse but to go to bed.
…okay, that last one wasn’t said during our conversation… You get the gist of what she thought I was going to tell her.
Here’s the thing about these sorts of restrictions.
Like any other restriction that we don’t believe in 100% (y’know, like things other than Toras Moshe MiSinai), the more we restrict ourselves, the more likely we are to feel deprived and cave to the restriction.
Just like with dieting. (That’s a post for another day.)
For now, I’ll just share what happened to me about a year ago when I set up my computer to lock me out of time-zapping websites after a designated amount of time on them:
As soon as I set the timer for the 30 minutes, I obsessively started to check how many minutes I had left. How much time I had already spent.
And I stopped enjoying myself and using my time online efficiently.
A light bulb went off and I had a moment of clarity, thinking about where “the diet mentality” shows up in different areas of my life.
And this was one of them.
Restricting my time using an external force means that I can no longer decide if today I want to spend 45 minutes on that website, or even 2 hours. I’m limited to the 30 minutes it restricts me to.
Just like diets. You can have 1500 calories, or 20 points, or 1 “cheat” food.
Which for over 95% of the population, fails, leaves you wanting more than you’re “allowed” to have, thereby creating food obsessions which cause you to believe there’s something “wrong” with you.
So, anyway, I turned off the time blocker.
And interestingly enough, as soon as I stopped focusing on how much time I had left, I started spending LESS time online than when the timer was on. And the time I spent online was much more focused and meaningful.
Here’s what I now do instead, and I recommended these tips to those 2 clients and my accountability partner:
1) I installed an app on my computer called f.lux. What it does is create a yellow glow on my computer from sunset, so that I don’t have to stare into the blue glare of the computer screen, which mimics the light of day, keeping us awake for longer. (Bonus perk: it reminds me when I’ve just about missed shkiyah and still need to daven mincha…) There are similar apps available for handheld devices, and the latest versions of iphone and androids supposedly come with them already installed. So all you need to do is activate them!
2) I changed some of the lighting in my home to warm yellow lights. Not an easy feat today with everything being LED. It’s still possible, though. I no longer use the overhead light in my room at night (until the mosquitos come buzzing and we need the light to see and smack them), and simply turn on my warm yellow bedside lamp instead.
That’s it! Two simple things that have changed my evenings.
Now let’s turn it over to you. What do you do to set the tone for a good night’s sleep? What have you found that has worked? What hasn’t worked for you? What would you be willing to try? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!