I want results without all the work. I want a flat stomach without the bother of exercise. I want to eat healthy without having to eat Brussels sprouts. Dang it, I want to sleep like the dead and still check Facebook before I go to bed!
Is that too much to ask??
It’s basic human behavior, to want something but not work for it. Most of the time being lazy bites you in the rear, like trying to get an A on a test you didn’t study for.
But, like most resourceful lazy people, I try to figure out easier ways to get the same result without the bother of work, or at least make it tolerable.
When my insomnia got unbearable, I turned to natural ways to help sleep. One of the first things that was always suggested was “clean up your sleep hygiene.”
Turn off electronics two hours before bed? Um, no. Don’t eat sugary sweets late in the evenings? Whatever. Hello, I NEED chocolate!
I got tired of sleepless nights, so I bit the bullet and cleaned up my sleep habits. But I did it my way. The lazy way. Sleeping clean is essential to begin untangling yourself from insomnia, but you can improve your sleep hygiene without it being a chore. Heck, it can even become a habit you enjoy doing.
Video: What is Sleep Hygiene?
Most of the time when I recommend improving sleep hygiene, I get “huh? What does hygiene have to do with sleeping?” They assume it has something to do with being clean. Sleep hygiene isn’t about personal cleanliness, it’s about your lifestyle and daily habits. Here’s a video I made to explain it better.
What is Bad Sleep Hygiene?
Before I delve into how to clean up your sleep hygiene, it’s probably best if I go over what’s considered bad sleep hygiene. Don’t freak out over any activities I list here. For the most part you can work around them so they don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself of fun.
Here’s a few examples of bad sleep hygiene:
- Drinking caffeine within 8 hours of bed
- Sleeping late on weekends and/or your days off
- Watching TV an hour before bed
- Using your smartphone/tablet/computer an hour before bed
- Working/eating/watching TV in bed
- Napping during the day
- Not spending at least 30 minutes in the sunshine
- Internalizing stress
- Not exercising
See, not too bad, right? They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Well, what’s fun usually keeps you up but not if you use your imagination. 😉
How can I Improve my Sleep Hygiene Easily?
Perception is everything right? If you think something is going to suck, it’s pretty much going to suck. So I tried not to look at improving my sleep hygiene as something that was going to make me miserable.
I looked at each activity I needed to do in order to improve my sleep hygiene and made it as easy and enjoyable as possible. Here’s my list of tips for good sleep hygiene that are easy and doable.
1. Step into the Sunshine
Getting sun exposure, especially early in the day, is an important daily sleep habit. Being exposed to bright light in the morning helps to release the “wake up” hormone cortisol and regulate your Circadian Rhythm so you’ll release melatonin during the evening hours leading up to bed.
Lazy Tip #1
If you go to work every morning, you’re probably getting the minimum 30 minutes of sunshine you need to kick your body clock into gear. If you don’t leave for work first thing in the morning, try walking your dog, talking a walk in your yard, or even sitting near a bright sunny window will do the trick.
2. Cut the Cord to ALL Electronics 2 Hours Before Bed
Speaking of darkness and releasing melatonin, that brings me to the touchy subject of turning off your tech. Seriously, your phone/TV/computer time kills your sleep all emit blue light that keeps your brain from releasing melatonin (which means you won’t get sleepy) and it wreaks havoc on your circadian rhythm.
Lazy Tip #2
Don’t panic! You can still binge watch Netflix and scroll through your phone. The laziest way to limit blue light exposure from electronics is to wear blue light blocker glasses. They’ll block blue light while you scroll away. If you don’t like the idea of wearing glasses, you can also download a blue light filter app for your phone, tablet or laptop. Just Google “blue light filters.”
3. Eat Right for Good Sleep
Anytime someone tells me to eat I’m not going to have to be told twice. Except maybe for Brussels sprouts. I draw the line there. Anyways, there’s certain foods that contain sleep hormones, amino acids, or vitamins that your body needs to begin the sleep process naturally.
Here’s a short list of foods that help sleep:
Lazy Tip #3
You don’t have to eat these foods all through the day to help sleep. (Although it would be really good for your overall health!) You can snack or drink on them after dinner and before bed. A lazy but yummy way to to eat your way to sleep is by drinking a smoothie using some of these sleep promoting foods.
4. Stop Drinking Caffeine 8 Hours Before Bed
Sorry soda and coffee lovers, but put. The. Cup. Down. Don’t think just because it’s 1 p.m. you’re okay to drink your Coke. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours, so if you’re feeling revved up at night you could be sensitive to caffeine. In a perfect caffeine-free world, a neurotransmitter called adenosine binds to certain brain receptors which makes you feel drowsy. But caffeine binds to these same receptors, blocking the adenosine, and that leaves you wide awake.
Lazy Tip #4
I know, if you’re really into coffee and soda, this is a hard one to let go of, and the decaffeinated versions don’t always taste normal. Instead, try sipping on drinks that promote sleep in the late afternoon and evenings. They’re really tasty and some even taste like dessert. Of course, water is always a good go-to because it keeps you hydrated and helps to rid the body of toxins while you sleep.
Related: Bedtime Beverages to Help you Sleep
5. Cat Nap Early
I know the feeling, you didn’t get much sleep the night before and you feel like crap in the daytime so you decide to take a nap. Well, yeah, don’t do that. At least not before 4 pm and then only nap 15 minutes or less. Anything longer than that disrupts your sleep/wake cycle. In other words, your brain won’t know it’s supposed to sleep at night.
Lazy Tip #5
Pencil in a rest time. Set your alarm clock to go off in 15 minutes, just in case you dose off. Think you can’t feel rested without a nap? I have a cousin who lies down after lunch every day. He may nap, he may just read or watch TV. Either way, he still feels rested and ready to take on the rest of his day when he gets up.
6. Get Up and Move it
I know, I know, why is the Lazy Girl adding exercise as part of this list? Trust me, I have a lazy loophole for you. :p
The Mayo Clinic suggests that getting at least 10 minutes of exercise a day helps improve sleep. Exercise reduces stress, anxiety, and boosts your mood. Just be sure not to exercise too close to bed so you don’t rev your mind and body up so much it keeps you wide awake.
Lazy Tip #6
You don’t have to go full on gym rat for your exercise to count. To get in some physical activity, walk your dog, play a game outside with your kids, or even take a dance or yoga class. As long as you’re up and moving for 30 minutes, it counts.
7. Give Yourself a Set Bedtime and Wake Up Call
Yeah, having a bedtime is so not spontaneous and kinda boring to be honest. But to get your body clock (circadian rhythm) on a regulated cycle it’s important to wake up and go to bed at the same time everyday. Having consistent set wake up/bed times lets your brain know when to expect sleep and lessens your chances of having chronic insomnia.
Lazy Tip #7
Okay, I know you’re thinking there is no way to get around “set bedtime and wake up times,” but I say if you can’t change something, at least make it enjoyable. Wake up times are already set because most of us get up for work. So for bedtime, pamper yourself in the 30 minutes leading up to bed by establishing a bedtime routine. Speaking of…
8. Embrace the Night by Developing a Bedtime Routine
Now, don’t think I’m talking about brushing your teeth and reading a bedtime story. You’re an adult, so that means you get to have “me time.” A bedtime routine does three main things. It helps you practice good sleep hygiene, relaxes your mind, and helps your body learn when it’s time to wind down and fall asleep.
Lazy Tip #8
This one doesn’t really need a lazy loophole because a bedtime sleep routine is all about winding down and relaxing before bed. Some routine ideas are writing in your sleep journal are; taking a long soak in the tub; coloring, do puzzles, needlework, or read; Do your beauty routine. (mask, nails, the whole nine yards!)
9. Make Over your Bedroom into a Sleep Cave
To get great sleep, you’ve got to be in an environment that’s conducive to getting said great sleep. I like to call this environment a sleep cave because it should be cool, dark, and quiet.
Your ideal sleep cave should:
- Let your melatonin surge. (provided you’ve cut the tech cord!)
- Allow your body temperature to dip naturally to get to deep R.E.M. sleep. (around 65F)
- Reduce sudden and annoying sounds that can keep you from reaching R.E.M. sleep.
Lazy Tip #9
Don’t think you need to go through the effort and expense of a complete bedroom makeover. Block light by tacking a blanket over the windows and putting towels at the bottom of your bedroom door. Have a fan blow directly on you if you don’t want to crank the thermostat down that low. Bonus! The fan will act like a white noise machine to reduce loud, sudden noises. (like that noisy neighbor’s barking dog or stereo!)
10. Keep Clocks out of your Bedroom (you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life 😉 )
You’re probably thinking if there’s not a clock in my bedroom how can I tell what time it is and how am I going to wake up in time for work? Having a clock in your bedroom is bad hygiene for two reasons:
- If you have a standard digital alarm clock in your room, the light it gives off is going to interfere with your melatonin production. (it’s that pesky blue light again!) and if you’re using your cell phone as an alarm, you’re tempted to scroll away at 2am if you’re having trouble sleeping. (Darn you blue light!)
- Having a clock in your room can make you stress out about time. How many times have you looked at a clock and thought OMG, I only have two hours to sleep before I have to wake up, hmm?
Lazy Tip #10
Hey, I work, too, so I understand the need for making sure you get up in time. Instead of sleeping late and probably losing your job, put a towel over your digital alarm clock or set the alarm on your phone and keep it across the room so it’s out of easy reach.
11. Don’t Take it Lying Down
Don’t you hate it when you just lie there and your brain does everything but fall asleep? Chances are, you’re not like my husband who can literally fall asleep on command, and just lying there trying to make yourself fall asleep just gives you performance anxiety. In other words, the more you try to sleep, the harder it is to fall asleep.
Lazy Tip #11
This falls under the same “me time” category as a bedtime routine. If you can’t sleep after 20 or 30 minutes, turn the lights on low and do a quiet activity like color, read, crochet, crossword puzzle, etc. Do it until you get sleepy, then go back to bed and try again. And don’t touch your phone!
12. Reserve your Bed for Sleep and er…Specific Activities
Your brain likes routine, and if an activity is repeated enough your brain starts to put two and two together and say, hey, I know what’s going to happen! So keep bedroom activity to just sleep and sex. If you’re eating, watching TV, or working in bed, your brain will associate being in bed with being awake.
Lazy Tip #12
Come on, do I really need to give you a tip here? Come on, you can eat and watch TV on the couch in the living room. Make your bedroom a sacred space. Besides, it’s more fun that way. 🙂
13. Work Through your Thoughts with a Sleep Journal
Ever lie in bed while your brain races with worry and thoughts of what you’ve got to do the next day and you’re kind of just along for the ride? Writing in a sleep journal will help calm and still your mind so you can fall asleep. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that participants who took 5 minutes to write out a to do list for the next day fell asleep significantly faster than those who didn’t.
Lazy Tip #13
Keep a specialized sleep journal or a little notebook by your bed and take 5 minutes just to jot down what you need to do the next day, or anything else that may be on your mind. Just make sure you do this old school. Use actual paper. Doing this on your phone or tablet doesn’t count!
Do you Look for Lazy Loopholes, Too?
So what about you, do you have any lazy tips you use to improve your sleep habits? Well, add to the list by leaving some comments on what you do, along with any questions you may have, and let me know you’d like to hear more!