When I set my goals for 2013, I made “Become a Morning Person” a top priority. Let me be clear: I am, and have always been a night owl. I love the long conversations in the dark and the quiet loneliness that gives me space to do the silly things I’d never do in the sunlight. However, to reach my other goals of 2013, like finishing the MAGL and improving this blog, it was going to take a new level of discipline. After a few early mornings where no amount of expresso seemed to be doing the trick, it became clear that I was going to have to sacrifice a few things.
For the time being, I’m trying to say goodbye to hours of surfing the internet after sunset. I’ve stopped sticking around to close down parties that have already been stale for a few hours. But that’s easy part. Actually going to sleep is the hard part. Here’s seven tips I’ve picked up that have helped me get a good night’s rest.
- Go to bed tired.
There’s no better feeling than a good night sleep a hard day’s work. But that’s hard to get if you’re a 21st century knowledge worker. Part of the reason I have trouble sleeping at night is that my body isn’t always tired. So, during the day, do whatever it takes to get out, and wear your muscles out. You’ll feel better the rest of the day, and sleep better at night.
- Make a list.
Ever lay in bed worrying about what you have to do the next day? Just as you start to drift off, the next thing, floats into your head. Part of the reason is that we have so much going on that we can’t keep track of it all. So, to get this under control, take a few minutes to create a list. Take a glance at it before you call it a night, and congratulate yourself for all the things you accomplished.
- Clean your room.
The world around you shapes what’s inside you. Take a moment to pick up your socks off the floor and make your bed. When the end of the day comes around, you’ll lay down in a peaceful setting.
- Hide your electronics.
Our gadgets are addicting. I will surf for hours and not even realize I’m doing it. Just having the gadgets in my room will make me want to use them. Put your laptop and iPad in places you can’t see. If you don’t (yet) have the discipline to stay away from them, leave them in another room when you call it a night.
- Create a peaceful setting.
If you live in a city, or share your space with family or roommates, chances are, they’ll be making noise that will distract you from drifting off. To cover the noise up, I use Songza, because of it’s sleeping playlists and sleep timer. If you share your bedroom, you might consider purchasing some sleep phones to keep from distracting others.
- Relax your body.
Unless you’re naturally laid back or some kind of yogi, you probably are storing stress and tension in your muscles. When you lay down, you have trouble staying still, breathing and relaxing. Invest some time and money in learning muscle relaxation and breathing techniques. It’s amazing how quickly you will feel better. Despite it’s cheesy name, I’ve found Christian Relaxation tapes to be a great way to calm down and reflect on scripture.
So much about going to sleep at night means being at peace. To the extent you can, this includes being at peace with God. The prayer of Examen is one of Ignatius’s, whereby you review your day and present it to God. If you’ve never done the Examen, this audio file will walk you through it. You’ll learn a lot about prayer and feel more at peace with God and the world.