Sometimes falling asleep at night is not so easy even though we are tired. Thoughts of work, life situations, or the anticipation of an important event can interfere with or prevent you from falling into the realm of Morpheus.
What keeps us from falling asleep
The cause of restless sleep may be anything: stress, hormonal changes, bad habits, neurological or mental illness, emotional stress, etc.
Of course, these are serious causes, which you should not put off in a long box, but to solve as soon as possible, and if necessary, you should seek help from specialists. But sometimes it happens that it is us who prevent ourselves from falling asleep, or rather our daily habits or the conditions of “living”.
On average, a person needs about 7 minutes to sink into sleep. Although sometimes even 30 minutes is not enough to fall asleep. Why is this the case?
Light from lanterns and other sources outside the window, a night light, the glow of the TV screen, laptop, smartphone screen, backlit alarm clock. Any light source that disrupts the natural darkness can “cheat” our circadian rhythms, which means that the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, is disrupted.
It is easier for our body to fall asleep in comfortable conditions: these are low levels of carbon dioxide concentration, optimal temperature and humidity. Stale (i.e. with high levels of CO2), dirty air can increase the manifestation of allergic reactions, cause general weakness of the body and have a negative impact on the immune system.
Food and Drinks
Coffee, alcoholic beverages and high-calorie foods interfere with a person’s ability to fall into a deep sleep phase. Caffeine and alcohol “irritate” the nervous system, and heavy foods take a long time to digest. The result is that no matter how tired a person is, active processes in the body interfere with sound sleep.
The bed should not be a workplace or a kitchen table. The perception of the bedroom as a place to sleep will be disturbed if you spend a lot of time in bed with a laptop or a tray of food.
Mental and physical strain
Even reading books excites the imagination, which makes it harder for the brain to calm down and tune out to sleep. It is better to postpone athletic activities to the morning or afternoon so that by the evening all the muscles are relaxed.
Using pungent-scented air fresheners, scented candles, incense sticks and pyramids before bedtime can affect the quality of sleep. Smells can irritate the olfactory receptors.
What to do if you can’t fall asleep
Have a look at these useful tips which can help to fall asleep faster and have a deep and sound sleep so that you will feel refreshed in the morning.
Make yourself awake
It doesn’t make sense on the surface. Why do you force yourself to stay awake when you’re trying to sleep? You’re like a toddler who tries to be awake but still falls asleep. The paradox is that when you try to fall asleep, more often the opposite effect occurs: sleep, as they call it, is not in one eye. A study at the University of Glasgow found that participants who had trouble falling asleep were able to fall asleep faster with the help of “paradoxical intention” (PI). They were instructed to go to bed and try to stay awake by opening their eyes. And what do you think? They all fell asleep, and even faster than the others.
Use the “4-7-8” sleep method
This method was first used by scientist and thinker Andrew Weil. According to the creator, it helps to fall asleep in literally one minute. Its essence is that it creates a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system, which, by increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood, slows the heart rate and releases more carbon dioxide from the lungs.
Here’s what to do:
- Press the tip of your tongue against your palate directly behind your front teeth. Keep it in this position for the entire exercise. Take a strong exhalation through your mouth.
- Close your mouth and take a leisurely four-second breath through the nose. Hold your breath completely for seven seconds.
- In eight seconds make a strong exhalation through the mouth with a characteristic whistling sound.
Now repeat the above cycle three more times, and you’ll be happy. The doctor’s colleagues don’t approve of the method, but they can’t argue with its effectiveness.
Use progressive muscle relaxation
As you lie in bed, slowly tense and then relax every muscle in your body. Start with the muscles in your legs. First the feet, then the calves, the thigh muscles, the buttocks, the abdomen, etc., gradually working your way up to your neck and head. If you don’t want to tense completely, you can repeat this exercise only with your toes, alternately tensing and relaxing them 7 times. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, no more. Then continue to your head.
Listen to classical music
What could be more beautiful than wondrous classical music? What soothes the soul better than God’s flutes and heavenly harps? There must be something. And studies have shown that classical or any music with a tempo of 60 to 80 BPM, regular rhythm, low tones and calm melodies can help put your exuberant body to sleep. In a 2008 study, students ages 19 to 28 who listened to relaxing classical music 45 minutes before bed showed a significant improvement in sleep quality. So Chopin’s Nocturne No. 2, Puccini’s Gianni Sicchi is to your benefit.
Put on your socks
The best predictor of falling asleep quickly is warm feet and hands. This is according to a study published in the journal Nature. Participants in the experiment were placed a hot water bottle near their feet, which dilated blood vessels, thereby increasing heat loss. This caused a redistribution of heat throughout the body and is thought to have led to changes that occur in the human body when it prepares for sleep. That is, melatonin begins to be released and the body goes into hibernation. The same result can be achieved by putting on a pair of wear or even mittens. In summer it may cause discomfort, but in winter – just right.
Cool Your Room
For optimal sleep, the recommended temperature in the bedroom should be about 20 degrees. When you fall asleep, your body temperature decreases. And the cooler the room, the better. If the temperature is much lower or higher than the recommended temperature, then comes the fast sleep phase, the phase with the highest activity of the brain. Metabolism is higher, spontaneous rapid eye movements and sometimes small body movements occur. At this stage it is usually difficult to wake the sleeper.
Turn off your digital devices
When it gets dark, your body increases the levels of hormones that cause sleepiness. That’s why we’re ready to crawl into bed shortly after it gets completely dark. But when you’re poking around on your smartphone or even watching TV, you’re inhibiting the creation of sleep-inducing hormones, keeping yourself awake. The only way to pass out is if you really want to sleep and your body is exhausted. This means that to fall asleep quickly, you should turn off all electronics with bright screens at least an hour before bed. Then it will be easier to relax.
Live in Darkness
In addition to turning off digital devices, you should turn off all light sources in your bedroom. Try to keep the room as dark as possible. First, turn off the nightlight. You’re a man, and no bogeyman should scare you. If the street lamp outside lights up the room like a straight beam of a spotlight, you should think about thick curtains or blinds.
Melatonin to help
Melatonin is a natural hormone that is produced in our bodies. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, you may not be producing enough melatonin. You can get it externally, though, as a supplement. In small doses, it’s safe in both long term and short term use. However, it can cause some side effects, such as morning drowsiness and overly vivid dreams. Talk to your doctor about the best dose, as this is too individual. For adults, melatonin is prescribed in doses ranging from 0.2 mg to 20.0 mg, depending on the reason for use.
Sleep is on your side
If you want to fall into a deep sleep faster, roll over on your side. Snoring and respiratory arrest are much more likely to occur when you sleep on your back. In fact, the back is so closely related to sleep-related respiratory arrest that doctors prescribe side-sleeping as a treatment. When you sleep on your back, gravity forces your tongue to relax at the back of your throat, blocking your breathing and making breathing difficult. So lie on your side. And the sleep is healthier, and the wolf is happy. Squeeze a pillow between your knees if you need to reduce tension in your hips and back. Also, make sure your head and neck are properly supported by a good pillow.
In addition to these methods to help you sleep faster, you can make a few lifestyle changes to maintain a good night’s sleep. Here are a few ideas on the subject.
Extra tips to your lifestyle change
- Such a boring thing as a schedule affects even such a balmy process as sleep.
- Just go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink in the evenings, especially in the last few hours. Although, it would seem that alcohol helps you get lightheaded and makes you sleepy. But the quality of sleep leaves a lot to be desired. How to live with this, frankly, is unclear.
- Avoid heavy meals for 2 hours before bed.
- Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.
- Avoid drinking too much liquid before bed. It’s simple: going to the bathroom will keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.
- Run long naps during the day.
- Create rituals before bed that help you relax. Alcohol, as we’ve learned, will have to be eliminated from this list, and drugs are too expensive and unpredictable.
- Don’t look at the time when you’re trying to go to sleep. Otherwise, the thought that you only have five hours of sleep left won’t let you rest.
- Don’t try to go to sleep if you don’t feel sleepy. If you feel sleepy, you should sleep.
- Don’t wait for nervous exhaustion, but go to bed. Unless, of course, you’re at work.
As the English playwright Thomas Dekker said, “Sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together.” So don’t take it for granted.