With the great lockdown, almost all of my friends and colleagues are facing one issue common throughout this whole period i.e. INSOMNIA. Almost 2/3rds of my friends are working late night or sitting behind their Macbook’s typing some random shit or pretending as if it’s still not time to go bed.
I would be lying if I said that I am getting good sound sleep here.
Recently there was a health and wellness session in our office, and there was a poll on Zoom. It asked how many hours of sleep do we all get? A majority of them responded having less than 6 hours of sleep. There were still some 18% of people who still had around 9-10 hours of sleep everyday. [No point in envying those sleeping beauties]
During the months of Feb, March and April, my insomnia escalated to an extent that it started building irritability, lack of focus, staggered dip in my productivity and disturbed sleep patterns. It was not too late when I started noticing those panda-like dark circles under my eyes. Each day was a broken record of varying wake-up times. One day I would happily wake up at 5:30am and feel like I have conquered the world, only to wake up the next day at 8:45am. The pattern continued and completely wrecked my personal and professional life.
It was then, I decided I should do something to address this problem of not getting adequate amounts of sleep and bring some order to this chaos.
During my daily meditation, I would often ask myself… What is preventing me from sleeping like a baby? And the answers were really simple.
- Constant worrying
- Irregular wake-up routines
- Too much attachment with the smartphones and e-readers
Here’s how I addressed each of them.
Each day before sleeping, my only thought used to be of worrying whether I will be able to sleep tonight or not. Tossing and turning and thinking the same thing over and over again, until I heard Mr.Nir Eyal speaking about the art of not fretting over falling asleep in his audiobook Indistractable. He stated in his recent LinkedIn post that
“Ironically, I wasn’t falling back asleep because I was worried about not falling back asleep. Once I realized my rumination was itself a distraction, I began to deal with it in a healthier manner. If I woke up, I’d repeat a simple mantra, “The body gets what the body needs.” Once my rumination stopped, so did my sleepless nights. I soon started regularly falling back asleep in minutes. We should stop worrying about outcomes we can’t control and instead focus on the inputs we can.”Nir Eyal, Indistractable
Just like Nir, I was using Kindle but my mind was always worrying whether I will fall asleep or not. I stopped worrying and downloaded some beautiful 3D recordings from sleepcasts by headspace app. In a matter of 15-20 minutes, I used to yawn like a crocodile and drift off to sleep.
Irregular Wake-Up Routines:
Want to have regular unbroken sleep, then practice waking up every day at the same time. Sounds unbelievable? But that is exactly how this works. I started waking up at 7am every day, no matter how late I stayed up the previous night. Slowly within 15 days, my sleep cycle started getting restored. I now fall asleep faster at night and wake up refreshed. The groggy feeling came down gradually. I now wake up feeling very much better than how I used to feel a month ago.
Attachment to Smartphones, Kindle etc
No.1 culprit which upset my sleep routine was none other than this small 5-inch device called a smartphone. What used to be a 5 minute TikTok watching session, used to become more than 90 minutes of binge-watching TikTok. Over the last few years, I have developed a strange obsession with books. I cannot sleep without reading a minimum of 2 pages from a book. It’s like an internal alarm buzzes constantly until I pick up a paperback or kindle and satiate my hunger for books.
Little did I realise that reading a book from paperback is completely different from reading a book on Kindle. With the backlight and all the jazz, my mini Kindle was none other than one more device which emits blue light. Although it’s levels of blue-light emission was far lesser than that of my smartphone, it did harm my sleep. There were days when I used to consume books voraciously and wonder why am I unable to sleep even after reading Kindle. I quickly unplugged all the devices off my bed and now I just use my BlueTooth headset to stream my sleep casts by headspace. With over 20+ nice soothing sleep casts, it is best for anyone to unwind at their own space and drift off to sleep.
Keeping all these tips aside, the biggest secret of curing insomnia is to be mindful of your surroundings. Watch your bed space, and eliminate all the unnecessary tech which will rob you of your beauty sleep. Start a healthy sleep ritual. It could be going to shower before sleeping or reading a paperback or could be listening to old Bollywood songs. Let go of all the tensions and just relax all your muscles. The easiest way to fall asleep is to stop worrying about your sleep and just relaxing.
Seek help from a doctor, or get yourself treated by training your mind to sleep as soon as you lie your head on the pillow. Act on insomnia before it leads to some serious issue.