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.
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.
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.