Trying to Improve Sleep Through Evening Activities As a Voice-Hearer

Last night, I attempted to rearrange my evening activities so that I could stay up a little later and hopefully fall asleep within 15 minutes or less. Compared to the night before, it was definitely an improvement, but I still have ways to go. I ended up trying to sleep around 10:20 PM. I don’t think I ended up actually falling asleep until an hour later, so that part still needs work. I woke up several times throughout the night, first noticeable around 2 AM, then 5 AM, then 7 AM, then a few times more before I decided to get up at 10 AM. This is progress because I got up an hour earlier than usual, and settled for bed more than an hour later than usual. I went from 14 hours to less than 12 hours in bed trying to focus on sleep.

I initially planned on sleeping around 10:45 PM or later. However, I was trying to adjust to a new schedule. I thought I would feel relaxed watching Running Man. However, I wasn’t too crazy about the particular format of this episode. So instead of watching the whole episode, I finished just the first hour. If I had stuck to the whole episode, I would have slept 20-25 minutes later.

After Running Man, I tried reading. I first attempted reading in the living room. Then, I shifted over to the bedroom. It was a little harder to concentrate compared to previous days. I think it had to do with hearing voices. I kept getting these thoughts of “this is taking long” and “when will I finish”. On previous nights, I didn’t have this problem. I was curious about what I was reading and challenged myself to read more than 20 pages. I feel like the voice was influencing me to feel anxious about finishing. I didn’t have any particular reason to feel rushed or anything. I just wanted to relax. And I was also getting to the good parts of the book, so these intrusive thoughts felt contradictory to what I actually felt/perceived. I guess this is what I can expect though with hearing voices. It might fight you, but you have to press on with what you want to do.

After I finished reading only 24 pages (compared to the 30+ pages I’ve read the previous nights), I tried putting on my headset and listening to a sleep meditation. That was relaxing. Though, I did have to take off my headset and turn off the tablet after I was finished. I feel like ideally, I would just fall straight asleep. I thought about how nice it would be to have headphones you could sleep in, and you could call them sleepphones. (Turns out, they already exist! 😂) Even though I felt a little bit of tiredness, I still didn’t fall asleep for another hour or so.

Next time, I’m thinking about reading first, then watching Running Man, then reading again. So, maybe I could read one chapter. Then, take a break. Then, continue reading another chapter. I’d try to read close to 15 pages on the first go, so just in case I feel too distracted, I would only have 5 pages left the second time.

I could experiment with white noise after my sleep meditation. I haven’t used white noise since probably May. After that, I started using my window air conditioner, and that became my white noise. And then even when I didn’t use my air conditioner, I kind of forgot about using white noise and seemed to be doing okay without it. But, white noise can be relaxing. It can help you to focus on something soothing rather than being distracted by your wandering mind.

I struggle with setting a later bedtime in the evening with a lack of activities, which is why I’m trying my best to plan activities that feel relaxing or calming. It wasn’t always like that. I could just sit and do nothing before and stay up until I was tired enough to go to sleep. But with hearing voices, sometimes I get this uncomfortable feeling and the voice gets me to hyperfocus on it, that I just want to do anything to get rid of the feeling, which is usually to lie down right away and focus on keeping my eyes closed. It might help me to relax a little more, but it doesn’t help me to go to sleep right away.

Before, I used to go for walks sometimes in the evenings, for half an hour or longer. And, I used to play games on my phone. I shifted my walks to afternoons now that the weather is colder. I like to walk when it’s still sunny out. Also, I don’t play games as much because it’s not something I want to do in the long-term. If I were playing games with other people or maybe live streaming, it’d be different. But, I don’t really socialize while playing games on my phone. I’d rather watch Running Man, because at least then, I’m passively learning another language. I used to also watch some TV (the news and game shows). I still do, but not as much. I guess I want to be more intentional about what I’m consuming, which is partially why I decided to read books every day.

I was reading about this method for improving the amount of time you are asleep in bed. The target goal is to be asleep for 90% of the time. I would say right now, I’m only asleep for at the most 50% of the time. I was in bed for 11 1/2 hours last night. So, I was asleep for a total of 5 3/4 hours. If I were to be asleep for 90% of the time based on how much sleep I’m actually getting, I’d have to be in bed for close to 6 1/2 hours before the time I want to get up.

Wow, that observation is actually very eye-opening for me. Basically if I want to wake up at 9 AM, I’d have to be in bed by 2:30 AM (and not earlier than that). Well, that’s going to prove very difficult for me to adjust to with my difficulties of hearing voices. So, I’m just going to have to focus on increasing the amount of time I spend on my evening activities and try to get to the point where I’m going to sleep when I’m sleepy and fall asleep right away.

I’ve also heard that you should only go to bed when you’re ready to sleep. I sometimes read in bed, but mostly just out of convenience so I can put my tablet on the nightstand without having to get up. But, I’m going to try to limit my screen time to the living room. The only exception will be when I’m listening to a sleep meditation. I’ll do that in bed. But, I won’t be looking at a screen then. And, the meditation would be to aid my sleep.

I also was thinking about switching the device/location for watching Running Man and reading. Instead of using a tablet downstairs in the living room, maybe I could just use my desktop computer in the office room. I just installed f.lux just in case. It’s a free software for Mac OS that adjusts your screen’s level of blue light based on the time of day (daytime, sunset, and bedtime).

Since I’m still trying to get into the rhythm of my new evening activities, it’s still too early to tell how much of an effect they’re having on my sleep. And ideally, I would read after watching Running Man because from what I’ve read, watching a show is more stimulating than reading a book. But, I want to be able to stick to my 30-day reading goal. I don’t want to shorten the amount of pages. I don’t want to allow the voice influence me in a way that I wouldn’t act otherwise (skipping reading for the sake of just feeling comfortable). So, I have to find a way to stick to my new habit. The long-term goal is to be a daily book reader.

To be honest, the only reason I’m watching Running Man is to fill the time. And, I find Running Man to be a more thoughtful use of my time than just playing games. I did think about maybe trying a language learning app such as Memrise. Though, I don’t know how much time I could spend on it without wanting to take a break. Usually, I can sit through a whole episode of Running Man. Well, at least in the day. I’m still experimenting with the evening time.

I’ll try adjusting my evening activities with the tweaks I’ve suggested in this post. I’ll continue researching ways it in which other people fall asleep quickly. I’ll look into other people’s evening routines as well.

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