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Skip the the late-day Starbucks
Caffeine has a half-life of about 6 hours, so if you have a big Americano with 225 milligrams of caffeine at 3:00 p.m., by 9:00 p.m., you still have an espresso shot’s worth flowing through your system. Ease up your coffee intake well before the end of the day.
Create a cool cave
Your body temperature naturally drops at night, initiating your sleep cycle. If the room is too hot or cold, it’s disruptive to falling and staying asleep because your body is struggling to stay in its comfortable sleep zone. What’s the right temp? That’s personal, say sleep experts. But most seem to zone in on about the mid-60s. Then curl up under some covers and drift off.
Kill your television (and iPad, and iPhone)
As darkness falls, your melatonin level rises, sending you into slumber. If you’re lying in bed staring at a giant screen, or even your iPhone, the light can suppress your melatonin and disrupt your sleep. Get it dark or at least very dim (maybe just a small reading light illuminating a good book) in your room 30 minutes before shuteye.
Dim the noise
During my sleep study, the doctor was shocked at how often I woke up during the night. I thought it was normal. Turns out I just wake up to every little creak and squeak. I got earplugs the next day—life changing. Seriously. I sleep like the dead now. It’s wonderful.
Your body is like a toddler. It likes routine. Give it regular bedtime and wakeup calls and it will throw fewer fits.
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Easy on the booze
The second (or third) pinot noir may make your eyelids droop, but alcohol-induced sleep is restless sleep. Too much alcohol before bed lengthens your non-REM sleep and shortens your REM sleep, which keeps you in more wakeful territory when you should be in deep slumber.
Put the mental junk in the drawer
Your brain waves change as you cycle through the stages of sleep, going from the sleepy alpha waves in stage 1, the light-sleep theta waves of stage 2, the deep, slow delta waves of stage 3, and REM—rapid eye movement—sleep, where you start to dream. You cycle through these stages every 90 minutes until morning. Conversely, you have beta waves, which are your galloping workhorse, problem-solving brain waves. Lying in bed letting those horses run wild, especially at 3:00 a.m., is problematic because your brain can’t get into those restful, restorative stages. The doctor who performed my study recommends that people with night-time monkey brain keep a bedside worry journal. She tells them to write down everything that’s preoccupying them in a list and assign a time to address them the next day. It helps those problem-solving beta waves calm down so you can sleep.
Adapted from The Bicycling Big Book of Cycling for Women