I used to be the kind of sleeper who didn’t even think about falling asleep because it happened so quickly. But then I started a business . . . and needless to say, my sleep habits changed.
These days, I’m not counting sheep, I’m counting inventory. But here are some sleep tips that have helped me get some shut-eye. Maybe they'll work for you.
1. Don’t check email after 7 p.m.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but you should take it seriously. If you’re like me, checking email launches me into business mode no matter what’s in my inbox. Even if it’s something so simple as an email asking if I have any dietary restrictions for a conference luncheon, my mind again cranks up about company matters. So, be like me: Try to shut email off at least three hours before you go to bed.
2. Stick to non-business-related entertainment.
Obviously the “best” thing to do is read a book before bed. But, sometimes, I’m just not in the mood to read (there, I said it!). So I’ll watch TV or play solitaire on my phone. Even though the screen light isn’t ideal for going to bed, it’s still taking my mind off my business and allowing me to shut down.
It’s important that your entertainment not be related to your company (cough . . . Silicon Valley . . . cough . . . Shark Tank . . . cough). Otherwise, you may as well be checking email. Opt instead for How I Met Your Mother or Deadliest Catch.
3. Keep a to-do list.
When I put my head on my pillow, I'm at risk of remembering everything I have to do the next day, even a year hence. So, instead, I put my thoughts and reminders to rest by maintaining a list. Once the "to-do" tasks are put down, I -- and you -- can forget about it. My favorite list app is ToDoist.
4. Shower at night.
Call me crazy, but I really think there’s something metaphorical about “washing away the day.” Take a shower when you’re done with work to help you relax, and feel fresh and clean for bed.
5. Create some 'white noise.'
Falling asleep has a lot to do with telling your body that "It’s time for bed." These triggers can be set off by lying in bed, turning off the lights or even re-creating the soothing sounds you need. I like using my phone to create white noise sounds (try iTunes' White Noise app) to tune out any distracting sounds and trigger your mind to relax.
I always thought meditation meant sitting in a meadow somewhere, cross-legged and repeating a mantra. Turns out that meditation can happen anywhere and is especially useful for falling asleep. There are a ton of different forms of meditation, so find what works well for you. I prefer the app One Giant Mind for my mediation sessions.
7. Wear an eye mask.
You know what’s the best thing to look at while falling asleep? The backs of your eyelids. Shocker, right? Sometimes that’s easier said than done. I like sleeping in an eye mask (I actually use a headband from my company and pull it over my eyes).
I fall asleep a lot faster because I’m forced to close my eyes and am not distracted by that blinking clock or the night light in the corner. What insomnia starters can you eliminate?