I’m getting married in the mornin’!
Ding dong! The bells are gonna chime.
Pull out the stopper!
Let’s have a whopper!
But get me to the church on time!

~ My Fair Lady, Get Me to the Church on Time

How can you get to sleep on time? On your time. At the time you want to fall asleep? WebMD has 12 tips for better sleep. I completely agree with one of the tips:

Allow yourself one hour to unwind before bed. Brush your teeth one hour before getting into bed and wash your face slowly with warm water. Set the mood for relaxation before bed. This is not a time to be rushing about or planning the following days events. Do this earlier in the evening.

What can you do to relax as completely and as simply as you can before bed?
Can you
* Light a candle,
* Have some camomile tea,
* Brush your hair,
* Meditate,
* Breathe,
* Read some poetry?

What can you do to prep your body that it is about to go to bed? What cues can you give to your body (smell – light-fragrance candle, sight – darken the lights, touch – put on pajamas and night clothes, taste – brush your teeth, hear – put on classical music)? Or other cues? How can you give your body a clue that sleep is about to happen?

That is the single-best thing you can do for your body to get ready for sleep – to put it in the mood for sleep. I suggest getting ready for bed between 10 and 11pm. You need to be in bed by 10 or 11pm for optimal functioning, in my humble unscientific in this case, opinion.

And, yes, this will take longer than your usual routine, and yes, you’ll need to factor that time into your day, but it will pay off in healthy, full sleep.

One more tip: get ready for bed, get everything ready (including all these above cues), and then just get in bed and read. Read books for fun, not necessarily books for work or for homework. Marsha Norman says that if you’re a writer, you should read for four hours every day, and if anyone asks you what you’re doing, tell them that you’re busy and you’re reading. And for those of us who are not writers, reading is so opening, so exhilirating, so freeing, so full – it is the ideal pre-bedtime activity. Reading takes us into different worlds. And by doing so absolutely prepares us for bed.


  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual. Create cues for sleep.
  • Go to bed 10-11pm.
  • Read in bed until you’re tired enough to fall asleep.

Note: I know these above won’t work for everybody. That’s why they’re my opinoons and my suggestions only.


  1. Steve
    Posted Thursday January 11, 2007 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    IMO, developing this nightly ritual is absolutely one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

    Putting one’s self to bed when you have thoughts like “I’ve so many things I want to do; so many things I need to do” can be a very tough task.

  2. Steve
    Posted Thursday January 11, 2007 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Coincidentally, just this week I made a strong commitment to do this, and to be up even earlier.

    I’m earger to track the differences I’m sure will make in my life.

  3. Posted Thursday January 11, 2007 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Good point, Steve, how can you track the differences? I really believe you improve in things when you can TRACK them and MEASURE them. Thanks for bringing that up – I’ll make sure to write in more detail about measurements. ‘Night! :) (You and I are both past the 11pm cutoff… I am leaving the computer …now!)

  4. Steve
    Posted Friday January 12, 2007 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Re: Tracking differences. One of the first things I did when I made this commitment was I told my friends about it. Also, I live around the corner from a coffee shop that opens at 7a, and I told a couple of the Baristas there, too. I usually walk to the shop first thing in the morning, so they’re the first to comment (as my frien Parad did today).

    Also, part of the commitment is keeping a journal and noticeing how the evening and morning went. Was it easy or tough? And then re-reading the journal entires.

    I also have a large, eraseable marker board, on which I track things. I’m wondering if I should list my times on there. I wonder if I can keep up with that.

    Or maybe a good way to track things is to quantify the work I’m getting done in the early hours. That sounds kinda bland, but if there’s a fun way to do this, a fun way to learn, then it isn’t so mechanical, if that makes sense.

  5. Steve
    Posted Sunday January 14, 2007 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Ugh, it’s past my bedtime :)

  6. Posted Monday January 15, 2007 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Steve, great tips. Thanks. Especially about commiting and telling friends about your commitment. Nice.

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    […] Sleep (update: Sleep (1-10-07) , How to Get to Sleep on Time (1-11-07)) […]