How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

The dynamic lifestyle of today has contributed towards disrupted sleeping patterns and sleepless nights. According to the CDC, about 1 in 3 adults do not get enough sleep. Whether it is improper sleep or complete insomnia, sleep deprivation is a common problem and is growing with time. Many people think that sleeping pills can help them get a good night’s sleep. However, sleeping pills only work when you take them, and they induce long-term effects that include an inability to sleep without them.

While a small percentage of people may need sleeping pills, most people can get better sleep without it. Certain tips and lifestyle choices can help you gain control of your sleep. Here’s our take on how you can enjoy a better night’s sleep without any medications. 

Align with your Body’s Natural Sleep-Wake Cycle 

Circadian rhythm is a natural process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. It is also referred to as the body’s biological clock because it sets the time you sleep and wake-up. Sure, it sounds easy enough, but many lifestyle choices can easily disrupt this cycle.

To get a better night’s sleep, it is important to sync your body with its circadian rhythm. There are certain ways you can do that.

Try going to bed and waking up at the same time

To begin with, set a proper time to sleep and wake up every day. It won’t be too easy at first. Your body will take some time to get used to it. While setting your schedule, don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t expect that you will go to bed early and wake up early in the morning. Set timings that are practical and easy for you to follow. This will gradually help your body’s internal clock to set.

Avoid sleeping in on weekends

The more your weekday-weekend sleep schedule differs, the harder it is for your body to maintain sleep quality. If you wake up too late on the weekends, your body may experience jet-lag like symptoms. An inconsistent sleep schedule, even on just two days of the week, can disturb your entire sleep cycle. 

If you need to make up for a late night, take a daytime nap instead of sleeping in.  This way, you can pay off your sleep debt without disturbing your sleep schedule.

Fight after-dinner sleepiness

If you get sleepy way before your bedtime, engage in some stimulating activity.  Don’t be a couch potato while being glued to the screen. Wash the dishes, write a daily journal, or call a friend. Do anything that keeps you awake other than screen time. If you give in sleepiness, you may wake up sooner than your set wake-up time and then have trouble falling asleep again.

Control your Light Exposure 

The light exposure you get is a major factor that impacts your body’s circadian clock. Certain hormones are produced due to the working of the circadian clock. Melatonin is an important hormone that is controlled by light exposure. The brain secrets this hormone when it’s dark, which makes you sleepy. Here is what you can do to control your light exposure for a good night’s sleep.

During Day 

The daylight suppresses the melatonin. This is why it is recommended to spend some time out in the daylight. 

Try to expose yourself to sunlight in the morning. You can have your coffee or have your breakfast by the sunny window. It is good. You can take your work breaks outside in the sun.

During Night

As much as it is good to expose yourself to light during the day, you must limit light exposure at night. Now, it doesn’t mean that you sit in a dimly lit room after the sun sets. At night time, you have to limit the exposure of artificial light. 

Exposing yourself to blue light from screens has long-term harmful effects. Most importantly, it messes up your biological clock and causes the slow production of melatonin. Do the following to limit your night time’s light time exposure.

  • Apply a blue light filter on your mobile, laptop, or any other device you use. You can install apps that filter the blue light from the screen. If you have to work on a computer or laptop for long stretches of time, get computer glasses. These effectively block blue light from entering your eyes.
  • Avoid watching TV at night. Not only does light from a TV screen suppress melatonin, but most TV content is also stimulating. Instead, read a book or listen to music, an audiobook, or a podcast.
  • Keep the room dark when it’s time to sleep. Use heavy curtains to ensure no light comes from the outside.

Tips to Get Back to Sleep

It is normal to wake up briefly during the night. But if you have trouble falling asleep again, it can cause a lack of sleep. But don’t worry, as you can use these tips to fall back asleep.

Don’t think about it too much

The first thing to do is avoid stressing over your inability to sleep again. The stress will only cause your body to stay awake and will make you more tired. What you can do is focus on the feelings in your body. Take deep breaths and clear your mind of any anxiety-provoking thoughts.

Do a non-stimulating activity

If you have been awake for more than 15 minutes, you can try a quiet and non-stimulating activity. The best you can do is read a book. Avoid exposing yourself to a screen and keep the lights dimmed, so you don’t get your body to stay awake.

Avoid worrying and brainstorming

It may happen that you wake up in the middle of the night and feel nervous. This may be due to an important meeting or an exam for the next day. Or, it can even be trivial, like what you are planning to cook the next day. 

If this happens, get up and make a brief note on it on paper. This way, you will postpone worrying about the problem and put it off to tomorrow. Making a note won’t necessarily resolve your problem. But during the night, it will help you put off worrying about any problem or task.

If a great idea is keeping you awake, do the same. Make a note of it and go back to sleep. It will be easier for you to fall asleep knowing that you will be much productive after a good night’s sleep. 

Do you ever feel like an elephant is sitting on your chest?

What is Costochondritis? 

Do you ever feel an aching pain in your chest? Not, metaphorically but physically? Sometimes described as a stabbing pain, or a dull ache and other times like “an elephant,” on your chest? Your chest may feel tender to the touch, your back might ache, or stomach might feel upset. It might hurt when you sneeze. Breathing deep may make it worse and exercise doesn’t seem to help. 

These are a few of the many ways people report feeling when they are experiencing a condition known as Costochondritis. 

Assuming you have already received a diagnosis from your health care provider and are reading for more information – yes, it may feel like a heart attack but it is not.

If you have not visited a health care provider or received a diagnosis, consider when you should go to a hospital

Have you scheduled your appointment and are doing research in the downtime? Here is a guide to help you prepare for your appointment. If you are worried that you might be having a heart attack or medical emergency, please call 911 immediately. 

Chest Cartilage Inflammation, it’s benign.

Costochondritis is a condition where the costal cartilages, also known as the cartilage surrounding the sternum, in the chest wall becomes inflamed. The inflammation begins to cause pain, discomfort, and other symptoms.  Inflammation, typically caused by an infection or injury, triggers a healing response from our body’s immune system. This immune response can last anywhere from several days to weeks. Inflammation that exists longer may be diagnosed as chronic inflammation.

Let the doctor take a look, diagnosing Costochondritis

Search results can often result in a self-diagnosis, even as convincing as they can be. It is vitally important that you do not self-diagnosis or attempt to treat the condition on your own. Just because it may seem like you have Costochondritis, what your experiencing could also be signs or symptoms of another more serious condition. Call your favorite health care provider or one that you feel comfortable with and make sure they give you a thorough review.

Since there is not an exact way to confirm costochondritis, your provider will conduct an exam, an interview, and they may also run tests in order to rule out other conditions before coming to the diagnosis of costochondritis.

Costochondritis, where did it come from and when will it go?

Hint: not from mars, at least we don’t think it did…

Have you lifted something particularly heavily recently, or in an odd way? Could you have strained yourself? Did you go too hard at your last yoga class? Maybe you recently got over a bad virus or a nasty cough? Do you suffer from Tietze syndrome

If you are wondering why we asked all of these questions, it is because any of these things could have caused Costochondritis. It is true, we don’t really know what exactly causes it and because of that, we cannot prevent it from happening.

Take a moment

Take a moment. Take a deep breath and try to relax. 

Take a moment for yourself, and try a relaxing breathing technique. Feel the tension release from your body. 

Let us go over some other ways we can help our bodies recover.

Being mindful of how we move our bodies

All of us could benefit from practicing being mindful of our body, how it feels, and how we move. It can be hard to avoid moving our bodies in ways that we are used to. 

However, when you are recovering with costochondritis, avoiding any activities that overuse your chest muscles is important. Results from a 2009 study of 34 patients showed that moving your body in therapeutic ways can be helpful in recovery. 

Stretches focusing on the pectoral area are great movements. Tools such as foam rollers and balls can provide helpful assist. Yogi’s looking for relief can add a few poses to their practice such as hero’s pose, Bharadvaja’s twist, and, our favorite, savasana.

TENS Machine for costochondritis

Have you hurt your back before? Strained a muscle? If so, you might be familiar with the TENS machine. 

If this is your first time hearing about the TENS machine, it is a helpful and portable device for pain relief. TENS, aka transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, is a tool used by physicians to physical therapy professionals, athletes, and a gamut of others. TENS machines typically come in a small, portable package, that can clip on your persons. They are typically battery-operated, so you can keep it in your pocket performing normal activities while it gets to work delivering electrical pulses through pads stuck to your skin. The pulses feel like minor shocks, which can be adjusted in intensity. Research shows that with proper dosing, TENS machines can be effective for pain relief. This is something that your healthcare provider may recommend, but as always, speak with your doctor before starting any therapies.

Some like it hot, and some like it cold: use both. 

Another way to tackle and soothe that the pain associated with costochondritis is a quick and easy solution. Utilizing a combo of heat and cold therapy by rotating a treatment of ice packs and steam towels can bring much-needed relief. Heat and cold treatment are recommended in combination. Heat works to help decrease pain. Ice helps with swelling, pain, and can also help prevent tissue damage. Remember, as always, make sure to speak with your health care provider or physical therapist about recommendations for heat and cold or any therapy when treating costochondritis.

Recovery is a process

It may seem like a lot, but these are just a few things that can help bring you relief when you are recovering from chest inflammation. 

Most cases of Costochondritis resolve on their own, some people may only experience their case of Costochondritis for a few days. The timeline for most cases ranges anywhere from a few days to a year.

Remember, it’s time to take a moment

You got this. You have done the research. You have talked about it with your doctor. You’ve taken a deep breath. You are ready. 

Remember to take a moment. Remember, there are many ways we can help our bodies heal. Remember, you are doing your best. You are juggling life, making decisions, managing your day to day, caring for yourself, while caring for others. It is okay to feel exhausted. It is okay to feel overwhelmed. It is okay to take a moment for yourself.

Remember, every practice or routine we incorporate into our lives in order to help us recover from illness, disease, or any kind of health issue is another act of caring for ourselves.

Resources

Stretching exercises for costochondritis pain
Costochondritis: diagnosis and treatment
Costochondritis
Integrating Acupuncture for the Management of Costochondritis in Adolescents
What is inflammation?
Chronic Inflammation
Costochondritis