- Sticking to a sleep schedule. Setting aside no more than eight hours for sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven hours. (We try to get to bed by 8:30 p.m. and the alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m.)
- Paying attention to what we eat and drink. Avoiding caffeine (found in coffee, tea, chocolate) for four to six hours before bedtime. Avoiding big or spicy meals for two to three hours before bedtime.
- Creating a quiet, dark, and cool (ours is 72 degrees) environment.
- Making sure our mattress and pillows are comfortable, supportive (and expensive).
- Practicing a relaxing, routine activity at bedtime. We’ve been playing a one hour guided meditation when we go to bed. That seems to work well for getting us to sleep fast.
These and more great suggestions are discussed at Harvard Medical.
Yet, even with these good sleep practices, neither of us was sleeping the way we’d like to. Then, about three weeks ago, I stumbled on something that may sound a little weird, but it’s a practice that’s greatly improved the quality of our sleep.
Have you heard of Lucid Dreaming? A definition I like (from Psychology Today) is:
“lucid dreaming is a way for you to put the deepest areas of your brain to good use while you’re sleeping.”
I’d love to have that ability (wouldn’t you?), but from what I’ve learned, it could take years of practice to develop.
Ryan Hurd gets my vote for the most useful, easy to follow, information on this subject. Here is Ryan’s The fast track for dream recall — The Snooze Method:
“Usually, we wake up and change our body position immediately. This actually dispels the body’s emotional traces of the last dream. And it’s totally over for remembering dreams once we start thinking about the day ahead. So don’t work against your alarm clock — let it work for you!
1. Factor in three minutes into your wake up time for remembering dreams. That’s all you need, really.
2. Instead of changing position when you wake up tomorrow, stay put. Then try actively to recall your dreams.
3. If you can’t find any dream images, focus on any emotion you may feel and sit in the feeling. Try to determine where the feeling “lives,” — is it a tightness in the chest or a glowing the belly? This is called body scanning. With practice, the dream image will come back with a flash, and sometimes an entire dream narrative will come with it.
4. If you wake up by alarm, this method will still work. Hit the snooze and then move back into the same position you were in. Close your eyes. Start scanning your body for dream memories and watch what shows up in your head in terms of images and thoughts.
5. If waking world worries intrude, gently remind yourself that “I don’t need to worry about that right now.” Just turn back to the dream scanning, focusing on the emotions or any dream image that you recall. You may fall back asleep, but hey — that’s why we have snooze button in the first place.
6. Once you have a dream narrative, make a grab for the dream journal. The best practice is to write down the dream in as much detail as you can muster now. But if a busy morning is ahead, jot down some shorthand and revisit the notes over breakfast. Forget about the news and write down the dream instead. Honestly, the world can wait until we’ve had our coffee anyways.”
Thank you Ryan! This has been great for us and I’ll bet for you too. Give it a try and feel the benefits. Please let me know how it goes.