You Need a Sleep Checklist
I hate lying awake in bed.
If I don’t fall asleep within 10–15 minutes, the feedback loop from hell kicks in. Stress about not being able to fall asleep. Stress about not getting enough sleep. Not sleeping because of the stress from not sleeping.
More than being endlessly frustrated in the moment, the quality of my sleep determines my happiness, self-confidence, long-term optimism, and demeanor on a day-to-day basis.
Knowing these critical factors are at the mercy of my sleep, I studied my patterns to learn how to avoid sleepless evenings.
I observed three rules that form the basis of my “sleep checklist.”
1) Did I drink caffeine too late in the day? (within 8 hours of bed)
2) Did I nap for too long or too late in the day?
3) Did I exercise (moderate intensity) for at least 30 minutes?
With all three correct, I sleep like a child. If not, I run the risk of another frustrating evening and an entire day off-balance.
Now, I take every precaution to avoid breaking a rule. I’d prefer to “waste” two hours in the afternoon binging YouTube to not throw off my sleep schedule with a nap. It’s worth forgoing two productive hours to save an entire day.
Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying that “fatigue is the best pillow.” My checklist lead me to the same conclusion: the most important factor for falling asleep is being tired.
Everyone needs a sleep checklist. Look for patterns. Document what works. Tweak, experiment, and optimize the right variables.