Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Quick and Dirty Guide - Falling Asleep for Creative Minds

Over the weekend I was at a friend's house watching YouTube Videos on a big screen tv in their basement when I felt the heat of a thousand suns burning my retinas - they had made a new tab in Chrome. We've all heard that the blue light emanating from our screens messes with our circadian rhythms enough that we're just kind of always walking around like zombies.

When you mix this bit of science with brains that are constantly in overdrive, add a dash of over stimulation from 'new tab syndrome' - well, is it surprising that creative people have the worst time falling asleep? There a few ways that I've tricked my brain into sleepy time land that don't involve turning off my tablet. To be honest - I fall asleep watching documentaries pretty frequently. Here's what I do.

1. Set the Scene for Sleep
There's nothing worse than being tired and going to lay down only to remember that you left a pile of laundry on your bed and all your bedding is on the floor. Buy yourself some good sheets and make your bed in the morning. As far as 'good sheets' I'm not talking the 1000 thread count hotel quality sheets. I mean buy yourself some sheets that are nice to look at and are made of cotton. While you're at it, dress up your bed a bit. Get a nice comforter and shams. Use your budget wisely and shop around online and on clearance for getting things that please you with out breaking the bank.

2. Make a Sleep Routine
Before we jump into bed there's a certain number of things we do first that helps signal to our brain that we're getting ready for bed. If you start this winding down earlier, the chance of your brain developing the habit of sleep is more likely. Trying to go go to bed and wake up at the same time is also helpful, but is something I rarely am able to do. Instead, an hour to an hour and a half before bed I start my sleepy time routine. I put on my pajamas, turn off as many overhead lights and lamps as possible, brush my teeth and just try to relax. It's also super helpful to limit your caffeine consumption in the evening, but that's also another thing I don't always do.

If you are the kind of person that also insists on using a type of technology before bed, do your self a favor and lessen your exposure to blue light. On my laptop I have f.lux installed and on my tablet I have Twlight. Unless I'm doing design work f.lux runs all day long on my computer at work. Okay, we've made our bed stupid comfy and we've brushed our teeth and turned off our electronics.  
If you're anything like me you're probably going over every minute detail of the day: the e-mail that you sent that might have been a tad off putting, should you make a new pen case, and what kind of person actually cares where another person pees? 
There seems to be piece of string connected to the universe threading through your head at a million miles per hour while a song you only know the chorus to replays over and over. Great. Now what?

3. Induce Dreaming
Now it's time to take our end of the day mindfulness trip. Literally, we're gonna go to the beach. This is something that a substitute P.E. teacher did one day in class my seventh grade year and it's helped me out every since. Imagine yourself on a beach. Look at the sand, the rocks, the sky and describe each one to yourself in great detail. If your mind wanders off into the clouds of self doubt or projects, bring it back to the waves. After 10 minutes or so if it's not working and you feel antsy go to step 4.

Step 4. Get the Hell Out of Bed
The worst thing possible to do is stay in bed. Get up. Do the dishes you forgot, read a chapter from a book, draw something, play street fighter - Do what you have to do. You have probably been extremely over stimulated during the day and have too much energy to go to bed. I know it's already 11pm. Get up and work some of that excess energy off. Take half an hour to do something productive and then start your routine of slowing down.

Step 5. Give Up Entirely
Try an herbal supplement - Valerian, Melatonin, St. John's Wort or Chamomile Tea.
Now, before you ingest anything recommended to you by a 28 year old on the internet - do your research and talk to your doctor. Melatonin and St. John's Wort can both have negative effects on persons with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Once you've developed some habits for falling asleep you can work on those old standbys that none of us do - sleeping at the same time, turning off electronics and limiting exposure to caffeine. Do you have something that works for you not mentioned above? Let me know in the comments!!


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