The main reason for my problem, I feel, is because I am very sensitive to light and noises. I like to sleep in pitch blackness, meaning that you can't see your five fingers if you put them in front of your eyes, to the point I feel the need to seal all window and door gaps. I also like complete silence, not even the sound of the air-conditioner (I can't stand it).
So over the years, I have done my research, and found several ways to help myself sleep.
The most recent and significant one, is to plug my ears.
The ear plugs below are from Daiso, only $2, comes in a cute translucent case, and even gives you a backup pair (which I didn't include in these photos).
It's just the most simple of plugs, but it works!
I didn't get the ones with the string that connects both of them, as I feel the string would disturb me in sleep. I think the ones with strings are more for sports, as my brother used to wear them for his air rifle training, and he still uses ear plugs sometimes for swimming.
After weeks of using ear plugs, I can safely say that these really helps me go to sleep much quicker, and improves my quality of sleep, because I don't remember my dreams.
Sleep is divided into two stages, the first sleep and the second sleep. Most people would wake up briefly somewhere in the middle of the night, and fall asleep again in seconds or minutes. (Don't move! If you wake up and decide to go to the toilet or pour a glass of water, you will wake up totally and find it hard to go back into deep sleep.)
The best way to assess your quality of sleep is to ask yourself if you can remember anything of your dream. If no, congratulations! As the more you remember, the worst your sleep had been.
This is because, other than first sleep and second sleep, sleep is also divided into stages, light sleep, medium, deep sleep, etc. And for a normal human being, the sleep will get deeper and deeper until you dream. Everybody dreams, but not everybody will remember them.
In a full sleep cycle, you will go safely into the dream, and come all the way out, so you remember nothing, or at most the very last 2 seconds of your dream. When this happens, you will feel very well rested.
If you got awoken in the middle of a dream, you haven't completed the sleep cycle, and this is bad.
If you KNOW you didn't dream, this is worst, because this means you know you haven't even truly fallen asleep! This happens to people who lead 20-hour lifestyle, and only sleep 2-4 hours a day. The hours are simply not enough to dream. So don't be too conceited if you never dream. It is not a good sign.
Alright, so that's a brief summary of what I have read about sleep. Now, other than shutting out light and noises (that may or may not work for you), I have also tried other methods to help me fall asleep. They have been successful to various degrees, and includes (in no order of what works best):
1. Drink milk before sleep. OR eat banana or bread about 2 hours before sleep. This is because these two foods have a certain chemical (I forgot what) that induces sleep. Sometimes, you can't fall asleep also because the lag time between dinner and sleep is too long, and you feel too hungry to fall asleep. Eating a piece of bread will appease the stomach.
2. Have a sleep ritual. You need to prepare yourself psychologically for sleep. Warm bath, massage, etc. My ritual is quite simple, as it only involves putting on lip balm and two drops of Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Oil. Oh the aroma, I swear by it!
3. Do not stress yourself out by doing anything that needs some brains, for example, using the computer, replying emails, playing games, watching action movies, etc. BUT some people actually need to read a book or write in their diary before sleeping. By rights, reading is also not a good activity to do before sleep.
4. Write a to-do list. I often can't fall asleep because I am busy trying to recall everything I need to do the next day and storing it in my mind. But the best way is really to write whatever you are thinking and offload it onto a piece of paper.
5. Don't eat too full or too oily, especially if your dinner time is normally close to sleep time. Now, this goes very, very well in tandem with the notion of eating a King's Breakfast, worker's lunch and pauper's dinner.
6. Exhaust yourself appropriately throughout the day. DON'T laze around and do nothing. I found that I sleep a lot, a lot better when I exercise 6 days a week because I would have used up most of my energy for the day, and also, feel that sense of satisfaction that I have achieved something during the day. And I SWEAR SWEAR SWEAR that this form of healthy lifestyle greatly helps sleep.
Now, which is the method that works best for me?
Other than ear plugs, exercising is the most effective to guarantee a good night's sleep. The others, I do on ad hoc basis, as and when is appropriate.
Writing a to-do list is a very effective INSTANT way. Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate and lip balm is also highly effective especially when I can't sleep because my face feels to taut and dry.
Drinking milk and bread actually doesn't do much for me, but when I am desperate, I do it anyway.
Do you have sleeping problems? Do you also use one or more of those methods I've listed? Or what is your personal secret to a good night's sleep?