4 Tips to Improve Sleep and Memory
Fall asleep faster while training your brain with these four simple tips.
While working in Australia, I was having trouble falling asleep. My bed was an uncomfortable cot with uneven springs, the heat was difficult to bear, and the sound of cockroaches crawling inside the walls was unpleasant. Thankfully, I was writing in-house for an online college based in Sydney; this college had a psychologist on staff. I spoke to him about my sleep problem, and I am so grateful for the time he took to outline some simple before bed strategies. I tried a few and developed the following four tips based on what worked best for myself and for others I have shared these tips with. I certainly hope they work for you too.
It is important to mention that I have always had trouble falling asleep; my disagreeable surroundings at the time was the final straw before seeking professional help.
1. Retrace Your Day — Get comfortable in your bed. Have everything you need ready for sleep — fan, humidifier, special blanket, be sure you will not need to get up. Now, close your eyes and begin retracing your steps from the moment you woke up that day. Do this in extreme detail, think of nothing else but what you did that day. Pour over every aspect, no matter how minor it might be. In fact, the more insignificant the detail, the better. Be patient, if you get distracted merely start over. Remember you are in no rush, you’re trying to sleep after all.
a. Here is where the memory training comes in. By using this technique to fall asleep each night, you will train your brain to remember more, and how to recall information, including surprising yourself with the amount of detail you can recollect. Remember, retrace that same day — beginning to end — in as much detail as you can. When done correctly, you should be asleep by the time you reach lunch that day.
b. For example — I retraced my day in such detail, that as I lay with my eyes closed in a comfortable position, I was thinking of how that morning I had turned the kettle on before getting in the shower, something I do not usually do. The more I thought about my day, the more I remembered. I recalled fumbling with the bread bag, brushing my teeth while adjusting the shower temperature, and so on. Try to get the detail right down to how you might have smudged your glasses and needed to wipe the lenses with your orange t-shirt hanging on the towel rack.
2. Remove Negativity — At least from your sleeping area. If you are unable to focus on retracing your day because you cannot shift attention from a serious adverse event, leave the room. Do not allow yourself to associate your sleeping area with negativity. Leave the bed or room. Have some non-caffeinated tea, read a book, or stretch — do some or all of these. Do not use your phone, watch TV, or turn on too many lights.
a. For tea, I highly suggest Sleepytime Tea from Celestial Seasonings.
3. Before Bed Routine — Create a before bed routine that begins an hour before bed, or half hour for those pressed for time. Your method can involve some or all of the following — light snacking on dry fruit and nuts, chamomile or sleepytime tea, light stretching. Keep the snacking light enough that you are not hungry, but not kept up with a full stomach. Non-caffeinated tea will relax your body and help with digestion. Light stretching will improve blood flow; keep it light though, a full-on yoga session will boost your heart-rate, which is great, only not before bed.
4. Deep Breathing — When in bed recalling your day to train your memory and help your body and mind fall asleep, focus on your breathing as well. All the way in through the nose, fill up your lungs, then all the way out through the mouth. To make deep breathing second nature, practice this while stretching before bed.
I hope these four tips help you as much as they did me.