Sleep is a biological need, and a recommended amount of shuteye varies from person to person. Some thrive after seven hours, others need at least 10. There is no magic number, but the quantity is not all that matters.
You can be in bed for 15 hours, but if you wake up every 20 minutes, you won’t be rested at all. This would be considered as less sleep than someone who was undisturbed for six hours.
Your body doesn’t have to be in a chronic state of producing less melatonin, the hormone and antioxidant secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that helps regulate the body's circadian rhythm.
Light disrupts the pineal gland’s ability to produce melatonin. Light can pass directly through your optic nerve to your hypothalamus, which controls your biological clock, signaling your brain that it’s time to wake up. To prevent that from happening, get rid of night lights and don’t turn on any lights if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night.
“Evening light of shifting your biological rhythm in the wrong direction,” Dr. Karl Doghramji, Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, says. Your body needs darkness to produce melatonin, which puts you to sleep. The brightness from the screen of your smart phone or tablet prevents that from happening.
Don’t use your bed as an office for answering phone calls and responding to emails, according to Harvard Medical School. The bed has to play the role of a sleeping stimulant, not restlessness. The body gets used to not being at rest in bed which will eventually make it harder and harder to fall asleep.
Televisions emit blue light, which affects the levels of the sleep-inducing melatonin more than any other wavelength, Dr. Doghramji says. Another problem is what you’re watching. Chances are a movie or a late show that you find will be more stimulating than relaxing, keeping you awake.
Eating causes secretion of acid in the stomach which then goes to the esophagus. “Unfortunately, the body has to be awake to get rid of it, Dr. Doghramji says. “That’s just how physiology works. He recommends not eating at least four hours before bedtime.
Water is the perfect drink, expect when you drink too much of it right before you got to bed. You may have some but avoid too much liquid at least four hours before bed, Dr. Doghramji says. The acid from the stomach reflexes into the esophagus, just like food. Also, less fluid means fewer overnight trips to the bathroom.
Alcohol is eliminated from the body rapidly and causes withdrawal symptoms two or three hours later, Dr. Doghramji says, which have a negative reaction. People fall asleep quicker after drinking, but alcohol reduces rapid eye movement (REM), which won’t occur until about 90 minutes after falling asleep. REM sleep is when we dream and actually rest.
The problem is the caffeine that many teas contain which will keep you up at night. If you want to have some tea, go for the herbal kind. They relax you and can make you sleepy. Green tea, for example, contains theanine, an amino acid that encourages sleep. Many people prefer valerian or chamomile tea. Valerian is a common ingredient in products promoted as mild sedatives and sleep aids for nervous tension and insomnia.
Caffeine, a stimulant, is a “bad idea for a lot of people because it affects sleep adversely,” Dr. Doghramji says. It stays in your body for more than seven hours, though some people can process it faster than others. “My recommendation is no caffeine after lunch, just to be on the safe side,” he adds. Even if you are able to fall asleep, you may not enter the deep sleep phase, which is when your brain really rests.
As if you needed another reason to quit the nasty habit, you consume many toxic chemicals when you smoke. Nicotine will keep you awake to and damage your sleep cycle. Research shows that circadian clock function is disrupted by environmental tobacco, hurting your sleep. Smoking decreases the levels of SIRTUIN1, a molecule that alters the levels of the protein that control the body clock.
“The ideal temperature is what you are comfortable in,” Dr. Doghramji says. “But we find that people sleep better when the temperature is on the cooler side.” Temperature levels affect melatonin level, but experts are not sure why exactly, he adds. The optimal room temperature for sleep is around 65 degrees, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
By keeping electronics in the bedroom, you are promoting wakefulness. Studies show that exposures to electro-magnetic fields obstruct the production of melatonin. Only keep an alarm clock in the room but cover it until you have to shut it off in the morning. Keep it at least a few feet away.
Don’t eat a big dinner and avoid heavy, rich foods. Your stomach takes time to digest fattening foods and that will keep you awake for a while. For foods you should be eating to fall asleep easier, click here
Games require a lot of interaction. You need to be engaged all the time because, most of the time, you are competing. This is the opposite of what you should be doing before bed and can without a doubt wreak havoc on your slumber. Too much stimulation…
Snuggling up to your pets in bed increases sleep disturbances throughout the night, and it ultimately decreases the total quality of sleep, research shows. Sixty-three percent of pet owners who slept with their pet more than four nights a week, regardless of the type of pet, were shown to have poor sleep quality. Five percent said they always or almost always had trouble going back to sleep once they were awakened by their furry friend.
A study has shown how the body temperature naturally dips at night, beginning about two hours before sleep, reaching its lowest point around 4 a.m. That’s why artificially raising your temperature by taking a bath, hot shower, or going into a sauna right before it’s Zzz time may prevent you from dozing off. The drop in temperature is a signal to the body that it’s time to sleep.
Some medications have unpleasant side effects. Check with your doctor is you are taking any pills, but wake up tired even though you think you had enough hours of shuteye. Some meds have been proven to cause insomnia and disrupt sleep. You may be better off taking meds in the morning.
Fighting with anyone before bed causes stress, which may lead to difficulty falling and staying sleep. It makes no difference to the brain, which uses the same neurotransmitters for sleep and mood. It’s hard to know which starts first. Stressful situations can kick off insomnia which can turn into a long-term problem.
There is a reason why babies have bedtime routines. They work. It’s not any different with adults; it’s all about the habit. Starting your usual routines sends signals to the brain that it’s time to go to sleep soon. The most obvious nighttime practice is to go to bed at the same time every day. Other activities are reading or brushing your teeth.
Quick power naps, which may be a secret to living a long, happy life, can make you more alert. Napping during the day is especially beneficial to people who work in shift, according to Dr. Doghramji. The best kind of nap is 20-30 minutes long and taken around the same time during the day, he adds. Avoid extended naps after 4 p.m. because they can mess with your ability to fall asleep later.
It should come as no surprise that stress takes a toll on sleep, after all, how many times have you been kept awake by looming deadlines, financial troubles or other daily stressors? Without a way to deal with these issues during the day, they are bound to affect your sleep. Developing a plan for dealing with stress is the best way to avoid sleepless nights spent thinking, so whether it’s a series of stress-relieving exercises, a meditation routine or simply writing in a journal, find a method that works for you.
Having a tough time getting to sleep? It can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you’ve got a big day ahead of you, but experts warn against forcing it. Instead of trying hard to get to sleep, get up and walk around or read a few pages of your book; taking your mind off of your inability to get to sleep usually works better than stressing over your lack of sleep.