Restful sleep is something that many people yearn to experience but probably have not experienced in a long time. As we grow older, our sleep quality tends to worsen over time. But it is possible to regain that childlike feeling of having slept well and fully – this ultimate guide will share everything we have learned on how to sleep better.
Table of Contents
- Why do we sleep?
- What happens when we sleep and what are the stages of sleep?
- Tips for better sleep
- Ideal Sleep Position
- How diet and exercise are related to better sleep
- Exploring insomnia and other sleeping disorders
- The best natural tricks that come handy for insomnia
- The need to cure insomnia
- The benefits of undisturbed sleep
- Medical conditions affecting sleep
Why We Sleep
Since time immemorial, this has been a fundamental question, “why do we sleep?” For many of us who can’t sleep and are suffering from insomnia, apnea, snoring, and a host of other sleep problems, we know that lack of sleep is unhealthy. We don’t require a constant reminder that sleep deprivation is a form of torture.
Indeed, several medical sources will tell us that sleeping is good for us, but why do we sleep?
In this age with all our scientific advancement, how can something so vital to our functioning remain shrouded in mystery? What do we know about sleep? Remember that dreams, restlessness or twitching leg syndrome and other strange things occur when we are asleep, and we still have some way of finding out exactly why and how they happen.
Although we are now able to conduct studies with a more scientific approach due to the advancement of technology, we still can’t get a definitive answer. Although our sleep can be graphed and monitored and new research is frequently presented, the exact reasoning behind why we do sleep is still debated.
Our brain does a little housekeeping as we sleep. As we learn new things throughout the day, we are continuously generating and adding new synapses. But our head/ skull have limited storage capabilities; that’s why bedtime might be the time synapses are cleaned out. Think of our brain as a computer that needs defragmentation.
Sleeping allows our body to heal. Individuals with less sleep have lesser cell regeneration. Lack of sleep also elevates our mental ailments like stress and depression. Think of sleep as a fuel; that burns when we are awake.
When we are in slumber land, our brain replays happenings of the day. Reinforcing memory and learning. Studies show that sleeping relives the events of the day. It also helps and improves memory.
Sleeping allows us to enter into the magical world of dreams. Although I’m not quite sure why we dream, all I know is that it makes sleeping unique.
Smells and memory
Sleep helps in memorization because the brain areas involved in learning are reactivated when sleeping. The most conclusive evidence comes from experiments submitting subjects asleep to signals associated with learning. Smells improve declarative memory – namely, the ability of subjects to learn the order of cards in a mixed play. Smells seem to act as a signal reactivating patterns of brain activity observed during learning.
These effects also apply to implicit learning, in this case, the piano. In a study dreams. During one of his experiments, the participants listened to audiobooks before falling asleep. When they woke up 90 minutes later, they were asked whether they had dreamed and how they remembered the book. After the study, they found that most dreams contained information on the audiobook.
The relationship between memory and sleep also seems to suggest that the latter’s role is to clean the brain of unwanted molecules. In other parts of the body, most of these biological toxins are removed by the lymphatic system, but the blood-brain barrier prevents the lymph into the brain.
The glymphatic system has attracted attention because other studies have then associated with neurological degeneration. As a matter of fact, Scientists had indeed scanned the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and established a link between poor sleep, accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain and poor memory. The hypothesis here is that sleep contributes to good brain health. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s seem to worsen with a lack of sleep.”
How much sleep do I need?
Answering this question would be very difficult a little knowledge on your particular situation. The quantity of sleep someone requires each night to function the next day actively depends on a variety of factors, maybe the biggest factor being age.
Most experts agree that older people tend to need less sleep than their younger counterparts. Toddlers normally require somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 hours of sleep every 24 hour period. And teenagers, whether they get it or not in today’s fast-paced world, need an average of about 9 hours of sleep.
For adults, the numbers begin to skew a bit. For many, something between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night seems to work best for them. However, many people function quite well on as little as 5 hours per night or upwards of 10 hours each night.
Then other factors come into play. If a woman is pregnant, for example, her first three months of pregnancy will require that she sleeps more than normal. If you have been deprived of sleep in previous days, your body will try to “catch up” on that sleep the next time you allow yourself to stay in bed.
Because everyone’s situation is different – from their schedules to their lifestyle choices to their individual health problems and subsequent medications – the sleep needed for each person each night will vary. So answering the question “How much sleep do I need?” involves more than just spitting out a number.
The best way to figure out how much sleep you need is to listen to your body. Try staying up one night until you are exhausted. Then, notice the time that you go to bed as well as the time that you first wake up in the morning. Try getting out of bed at that time. You may be tired and feeling a little groggy at first but wait to see how you feel throughout the day.
If you feel like taking a nap during the day, and you’re able to do so, go ahead. If not, force yourself to stay awake and see what time you feel sleepy at night. Again, make a note of the time and get up when your body first tells you it’s time to get up. If you attend and listen to your body, it will tell you the right amount of sleep that you need each night. Sure, you may feel a little bit drowsy or groggy the first night or two, but eventually, you’ll settle into a routine, and you will have found your ideal amount of sleep.
Keep in mind that oversleeping has some of the same effects as not sleeping enough. If you don’t listen to your body, and you force yourself to stay in bed longer than your body wants to, you’ll end up sleeping too much. This, in turn, will make you sleepy during the day – the same as if you hadn’t slept enough.
Either way, you’ll end up feeling like you don’t have enough energy to carry you throughout the day.
What Happens When We sleep and what are the Stages of Sleep?
Experts who specialize in sleep disorders and are employed in sleep labs regularly analyze the stages of sleep and record their findings. These experts research such critical factors as brain wave activity, breathing patterns, muscle tension, eye movements and oxygen levels. Specialized facilities, such as an electroencephalograph, assist these specialists with obtaining this information.
The stages of sleep can be broken down into two broad categories: non-REM and REM sleep. Non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep can be further broken down into four more stages – stages 1-4. During stage 1, brain waves are markedly slower and more relaxed. The beta waves are brief and quick, followed by the alpha waves, which are noticeably slower. It’s at this stage where you are just crossing over into sleep.
Here, the activity in your muscles and your eyes start to slow down. This is also the stage that has been considered the transition phase between being awake and dozing off. If someone is abruptly awakened during this phase, he or she may not even be aware that they have drifted off.
Some individuals claim that during this phase, they have the sensation that they are falling, and they may even experience hallucinations. While in this phase, you may also jerk and your startle reflex becomes heightened. Experts consider this phenomenon, known as hypnic myoclonia or hypnic jerking, very common and no cause for alarm.
Next in the stages of sleep is, you guessed it, stage two. Here, our heart rate and body temperatures are reduced, and brain wave activity is now quicker – referred to by experts as “sleep spindles.”
Moving into Stage three, our brains go through a series of smaller, faster waves which are accompanied by considerably slower waves; referred to as delta waves.
At stage 4, we now enter the deep sleep phase. During this stage of sleep, there isn’t any muscle activity or eye movement. It’s in these last two stages; stages three and four, that children may experience night terrors, bedwetting, and even sleepwalking. If someone is awakened out of this juncture, they will be foggy, and it will take them a minute to “clear the sleep from their head”.
Following the first four stages of sleep is REM sleep. This is the last stage in our sleep cycle – the deepest stage which also lasts the longest. Each sleep phase is a slight bit deeper. It means that you are in each phase a little longer than the previous one. It’s at this stage – during REM sleep – that dreaming occurs, and most of the recuperative functions associated with sleep take place.
Whether you’re a heavy or a light sleeper, dreaming is evidence that your brain is constantly at work. In this phase, our body temperature drops, blood pressure rises and our heart rate increases.
It may be interesting to note that as we sleep, we do not just pass through the five stages of sleep one time – we go through these steps about four times throughout the night and typically awaken while in REM sleep. This is the reason that you tend to remember your dream as soon as you are awakened.
Years ago, it was presumed that a sleeping person had little or no measurable brain activity. This dated theory has since been dismissed. With the emergence of technology to monitor the stages of sleep, we now know better. It has now been shown that our brain is anything but idle during sleep – albeit performing different functions than when we are awake.
How to Sleep Better
Set the alarm to go to bed
If you constantly regret not going to bed earlier but find it virtually impossible to enforce a relaxing sleep routine, remember to set your alarm – to go to bed.
Resist the urge to reprogram your alarm later.
Snooze; Earned sleep between beeps of your alarm is not recommended. The “snooze”button (used to postpone the alarm) bothers mostly REM sleep, which can make you feel more lethargic when you wake up in the middle of other stages of sleep. You do not have to throw yourself out of bed, but set your alarm for an hour a little further away and break your cycle of “snooze”and enjoy the great benefits.
Get out of bed
If all else seems to fail, get out of bed. Extended your stay there only stresses you more and somewhat complicates the process of falling asleep. Experts recommend getting out of bed and engaging another activity- as long as it is relaxing and does not include too strong lights. Then go back to bed when you’re exhausted.
If you wake up at night, avoid constantly watching the time on the alarm clock. You can even remove it from the wall. The fact is that watching the clock improves the stress. By cons, if you like being awake for more than 30 minutes, get up and perform the routine described above.
If you have trouble falling asleep or nighttime awakenings more than three times a week for over a month, or you feel drowsy for no apparent reason, talk to a doctor. It could be that you are suffering from sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome rest.
Do not be too heavy handed on alcohol before going to bed
While this can greatly help to fall asleep, when the effect of alcohol wears off later in the night, you are more likely to wake up several times at night.
Put on socks.
Some people have a problem with frozen extremities. But having your hands and feet warm seems to predict how quickly you will fall asleep, according to a 1999 study, wearing a pair of clean socks Comfort Posture Corrector Brace accelerate the process. If you have not been using them, grab your pair today.
Hold your room in the dark.
Eye-mask sleep; Even the most discreet glow – like a digital alarm clock – can be a pest to your closed eyes. If you cannot cover all sources of light in your room, consider using an eye mask.
Keep a cool temperature.
A room too hot and too cold can both disturb your sleep. Rather prefer a mild temperature between 20 and 25 degrees, as advised on huffingtonpost.
Release the pressure one hour before bedtime.
Dim or turn off the lights and all your devices – smartphones, computers, televisions, none of which has its place in the bedroom about 60 minutes before going to sleep. Bright light is one of the strongest signals showing the brain that it is time to be awake and alert. So start sending the opposite signal as soon as possible.
Get regular exercise and practice a sport at the right time.
According to a survey, regular and vigorous sports would promote better sleep. The best is that it does not take much effort: add a few minutes of activity can make a significant difference in your sleep.
Sport is conducive to sleep if it is not trained in the evening; at least two hours before bedtime. Sleep is gained more easily when our temperature drops. Performing an intense physical activity too close to bedtime may increase the internal temperature too, which can delay sleep.
But during the day, regular practice of sport has multiple properties: anxiolytic, antidepressant and analgesic and that’s why an athlete falls asleep faster and sleeps deeper.
Additionally, physical activity helps to synchronize the internal clock and stabilize the body weight. But being overweight is a sleep disturbance factor because it increases the likelihood of snoring and breathing disorders.
Avoid heavy food when it is late.
Your body is not meant to digest during sleep, and that’s why a large meal just before bedtime can keep you awake at night. Since proteins are particularly difficult to digest, if you must eat late, go for something lighter.
A heavy evening meal too high in protein and fat delays sleep. Alcohol is a false friend: it accelerates the onset of sleep, it also promotes snoring and thus a poor sleep. Certainly, we must also avoid stimulants such as coffee, orange juice, and tobacco.
Foods high in starch (pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, etc.) and sugary foods – including honey – are reputed to help insomniacs. As they promote the production of serotonin, the sedative hormone properties.
Preserve your bed for sleep and sex only.
Reading in bed is a form of relaxation, isn’t it? Whether it is a fascinating book, a science fiction book or any other book claiming your emotional or intellectual attention, it becomes a big puzzle to your sleep. Opt for lighter reading before going to bed, and do not take it beyond your couch or favorite chair.
Sleeping pills can occasionally help, particularly in the case of insomnia caused by acute and transient stress or jet lag. But they should not be used as a last resort and always for a short time, a few weeks at most. They lose their effectiveness over time, and the dose cannot be increased indefinitely.
Also, they induce sleep that is not as good as natural sleep. They can also cause long awakenings during the night.
Sleeping pills have side effects such as hangovers, drowsiness, anxiety and a decreased memory and concentration. Finally, when you stop using sleeping pills, a rebound effect may occur, characterized by increased sleep difficulties and severe anxiety. Never mix alcohol and sleeping pills.
Maintain silence in the room.
Sounds from electronic installations or the ticking of a watch can easily be kept outside the room. To isolate a snoring partner or sirens screaming in the street, try a pair of earplugs.
But not too quiet.
When your nest is so quiet you could hear a pin drop, every little noise at night becomes much more apparent and disturbing. Think of buying a white noise generator if your room is too quiet.
Keep our furry friends off your bed
A little purr or tail movement can disturb your sleep. Some pets like dogs and cats are very common in our bedrooms, and this can cause reactions in people with allergies, which can even disturb their sleep.
Choose good bedding
Good bedding adapts to the morphology, the needs, and habits of each person. We must take into account three main criteria to choose our bedding:
– Stoutness that evaluates the minimum width of bed preferred (140, 160 or 180 cm)
– The size that determines the length: bedding should be about 20 cm longer than the size of the individual (the largest if one is 2).
– Weight: it influences the level of support to select. The support should be tailored to the body so that the spine stays aligned throughout the night to promote relaxation and recreation. The more a person is heavy, the more he needs more support at the hips and buttocks. In contrast, a lighter person should prefer a softer mattress that hugs all parts of the body.
If a couple sleeps on the same bed and the weight difference between the two is significant, it is best to use two separate mattresses, positioned the on same base.
Believe it or not, an uncomfortable mattress can be the source of your sleepless nights. Whether because the mattress has lost its soft or because it is simply too small, it is important to recognize the signs showing that it is time to buy a new one. Consumer Reports recommends changing every five to ten years.
Dust mites love your pillow perhaps even more than you. In some people, the accumulation of these small creatures can cause allergic reactions that make sleep more difficult. Pillows should be replaced every 12 to 18 months.
Check also that you sleep well with the right pillow. e.g. Comfort Posture Corrector Brace.People sleeping on the stomach, for example, require very thin pillows while people sleeping on the side need something stronger to compensate for the distance between their ear and shoulder.
Take naps wisely.
All the experts disagree about naps. Some claim that they interfere with normal sleep. People feeling less tired at night would fall asleep so well. Others say naps can be considered as a valuable addition to the night sleep. When done well, a small day nap cannot affect your nighttime sleep, and can also improve your memory, alertness and job performance.
But most agree on the following points. People suffering from insomnia should not be snoozing under penalty of having more sleep problems. The ideal time for a nap is between 14 h and 15 h. It is at this moment that our biological clock naturally causes some drowsiness. Finally, the nap should not last more than 30 minutes.
The optimal duration of naps should be 10 minutes (compared to 5, 20 and 30 minutes). These 10-minute naps are the ones that would be most profitable to increase alertness, fight fatigue and improve strength and cognitive performance.
In the elderly, it appears that longer naps can be beneficial, especially as their more fragile sleep ensures that they are often able to sleep 6 h 30 per night. Moreover, according to statistics, when day and night sleep hours are taken into account, total sleep time of the elderly is almost same to that of other adults.
In a shared bed, try to separate the covers.
If your bed partner spends his time robbing you coverage or one of you perspire while you shiver, it is perhaps better to make your bed linens with separate sets.
If a lot of thoughts run through your mind when you close your eyes, it implies that you have not had enough time to digest the day. Before you retire to bed, make a list of things to do for the next day and rid your mind all the things you still have to think.
Take a stand, say a prayer.
Yoga, meditation or even prayer are effective techniques to get your mind to subside. These peaceful activities can help you slow down your breathing and heart beat giving you a chance to doze earlier.
If the exercise of the above reflection is not your cup of tea, simple breathing exercises can help you. Deep breathing mimic the sensation of the body when it is already relaxed, and after a series of inhalations and exhalations, you can feel calmer. This is because, according to NPR, breathing deeply stimulates a natural soothing of the parasympathetic system of the body.
The scent of lavender has notorious benefits on sleep. A 2008 study reported by the Wall Streets Journal, has discovered that lavender helps women with insomnia to fall asleep more easily.
Take a hot bath.
Bath before sleep
A bath slightly increases your temperature. When you go out, your body will cool slightly, a process mimicking natural drop in body temperature caused by the brain when it prepares the body for sleep. A warm bath before going to bed seems to help fall asleep faster, but also to enjoy a quality sleep.
Try to relax your muscles gradually.
This relaxation exercise involves tensing and then relaxing your muscles throughout the body, directing your attention to each of them at the same time. This improves the quality of sleep and reduces fatigue.
Note that disturbs you.
Worry sleep diary
If other relaxation exercises do not work, lie your thoughts on a piece of paper that you keep at your bedside. Emptying your mind of this mental disorder can help you doze off smoothly.
When you are awake, try immediately to take advantage of sunlight.
Nothing is as helpful as a bright light to force your brain to stay awake and alert. Enjoy natural light for about 15 minutes then start your day.
If snoring disturbs the sleeping partner, it also disrupts sleep buzzer, leading to more sleepiness during the day, according to the American Foundation for sleep. Simple tips can help you control, such as sleeping on the side rather than on your back, losing weight, and also avoiding alcohol before bed. Many experts recommend sewing a tennis ball in the front pocket of an old shirt and wear it upside down so that sleeping on the back becomes uncomfortable and forces you to stay aside.
Do you look for sleep apnea?
It is possible that your snoring is a sign of sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous sleep disorder that makes you stop exhaling for short intervals, sometimes up to a hundred times per night. Radical changes such as losing weight or quitting alcoholism can help, but often, to improve sleep. A doctor can also prescribe a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) or you can try Comfort Posture Corrector Brace.
Nicotine is a stimulant and can, therefore, keep you awake at night. Smokers are four times more likely to feel tired when they wake up than nonsmokers, according to a 2008 study. Here’s another reason to quit smoking.
What is the ideal position to sleep better?
Did you know that beyond the time you place in your sleep, how you sleep has an impact on your health? On the back, on the belly, on the side or fetus, each position can affect your breathing, your spine or your bloodstream.
In a fetal position
The fetal would be the most common position and yet not suitable for everyone: “In the fetal position, the spine does not adopt its natural curvature; it is curled up (s). The inclination of the position prevents a deep breath. However, the position of the fetus can improve the sleep of those prone to problems of snoring or pregnant women. If you sleep in this position, it is better to bend a leg and turn the other to relieve the basin.
On the back, arms dangling: it’s good for the neck
Sleeping on your back with arms at each side of the body is considered to be the best position for good health. It’s good for the spine and neck (be careful however not to use too many pillows). That said, small flat, those who sleep on their back tend to snore more than others. Moreover, this position may cause discontinuation of respiratory flow, a commonly known effect “sleep apnea.”
On the back, arms raised: what is good for the back and face
The “starfish”position is also good for the back. Your arms around the pillow or not sleeping on your back can also prevent wrinkles on the face and skin rashes. However, as the number 1 position, it tends to cause problems of snoring and acid reflux. Moreover, having raised arms compresses the tendons of your shoulders and reduced local blood flow. This often leads to tendonitis.
On the belly attention to neck
Sleeping on your stomach can improve your digestion, but unless you get to breathe in your pillow, this position will take you to turn your head in one direction or the other. Which can be very painful for your neck, your head, and shoulders. This position also causes rotation of the vertebrae in addition to promoting poor positioning of the arms. It can also cause bruxism (teeth grinding), pain in the jaw or a headache.
Body and arm on the side: attention to skin aging
When you sleep on your side with your arms along the body, the spine is in its natural inclination. Thus, this position helps reduce back pain and neck. It also prevents sleep apnea. The wrong side of this sleeping position is that prolonged attention can cause aging of the skin, causing wrinkles for example on the face or sagging of the breast.
On the right side or the left side: the shoulders and hips suffer
If you sleep on your side, the one you choose makes a difference. Sleeping on the right increases heartburn while sleeping on the left is straining internal organs such as the liver, lungs, and stomach. Doctors recommend that pregnant women sleep on the left. Caution, do not always sleep on the same side. Indeed, while sleeping on the side, the pressure is more difficult redistributed throughout the body. Thus, there is often more pressure in the shoulder and hip regions. Also, men who still sleep on the same side aree more likely to have kidney stones.
With more pillows: it’s good for the spine
Whichever way you sleep, your night will be more beautiful and softer if you sleep with a pillow. Those who sleep on their back may place a small pillow under their spine while those who sleep on their sides can put them between their knees. As for those who sleep on their back, a pillow under their hips would support their joints. Finally, it is you are advised to use an orthopedic pillow under your head in order to respect the natural curve of your neck.
Get better sleep with supplements
What is Serotonin?
Serotonin (5-Hydroxytryptamin (5-HT) or Enteramin) is a neurotransmitter that is primarily found in the blood, gastrointestinal tract, and the central nervous system. It is commonly known as a major contributor to feelings of well-being.
In nutrition stores, when shopping for supplements that can help achieve that much-needed sleep, one may see supplements such as tryptophan, 5-HTP, serotonin Comfort Posture Corrector Brace melatonin, and phosphatidylserine -all for sleep hygiene. They all have the same claims, but which sleep product is the best? What are these substances and how do they act inside our body?
Putting everything into its proper perspective, tryptophan is an amino acid which can usually be obtained from protein-rich foods. Tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin, and serotonin during nighttime is converted to melatonin. Before serotonin is formed, there is also a form of tryptophan which is 5-HTP. The image formed here is like a never ending series of arrows as one substance is converted to another. Indeed, one is necessary to produce another, but studies would also show that each of these forms has their actions. Phosphatidylserine likewise, is an amino acid. All of which are beneficial for sleep deprived patients.
The nutritional supplement of choice for insomnia as well as depression is tryptophan. It has been mentioned that it all starts from tryptophan. Once ingested into the body, it will eventually be converted to serotonin and melatonin, the natural sleep enhancers, as they exert significant positive influence on the sleep cycle. It has been proven to reduce the incidence of sleep latency among insomnia patients significantly. Another good thing about tryptophan, according to studies, is that it does not cause any difficulty waking up in the morning. On the other hand, its depletion results in an adverse impact on sleep.
One can get tryptophan from food sources. Experts say, however, that it is not as simple as eating tryptophan-rich foods, which are mostly protein rich food. This is because once digested and absorbed; it competes with other amino acids for absorption. Another amino acid prevents tryptophan from entering the brain. To maximize the effects of tryptophan, it is recommended that one should eat meals high in carbohydrates. Accordingly, this may be the rationale behind the fact that say that carbohydrate-rich meals increase serotonin levels. Thus, people who just ate a high-carbohydrate meal feel tired and drowsy after eating.
5-HTP is a more efficient form of tryptophan. This is a form which is a step closer to the formation of serotonin. It has a longer list of benefits as it not only promotes earlier sleep onset, but it also decreases the number of awakenings. Moreover, it increases REM sleep incidence to about twenty-five percent. It also helps one further get into a deeper sleep as it was proven to increase the incidence of deep-sleep Stages 3 and 4, both of which are essential processes of the sleep cycle that rebound happens when a person is deprived of it.
Another natural sleep enhancer which has a dramatic effect on both sleep and mood is the serotonin. With the aid of the pineal gland, when it’s dark, this substance is further transformed into melatonin, a sleep hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Both children and adults who need help in inducing and maintaining sleep can benefit from melatonin. Those with problems getting over a jet lag also take this hormone. There are also studies, however, that it only exerts its sedative action when its levels in the body are low. These low levels are commonly seen among the elderly. Not many studies were done regarding its safety for use by the general population. That is why it is not usually recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding moms, those below 35, those who are immunocompromised and people with kidney diseases.
Another amino acid which is found to act on the secretion of cortisone by the adrenal gland is phosphatidylserine. There is another hormone called cortisone that is actively associated with stress and is usually at its high levels in the morning, for wakefulness. It is found to be high in people with elevated levels of stress at night that prevents them from sleeping.
How diet and exercise are related to better sleep
For those who have ever been to see a doctor, you must have heard this statement; “Eat healthily and get plenty of rest and exercise.”So, we all know that eating healthy and getting exercise will help us sleep better. But, what you may not apprehend is what you should eat to promote sleep as well as when you should eat it. And the same goes for exercise. It is as important when you exercise as it is if you exercise. These exercises can help you overcome many sleeping problems
There are no two ways about it, being overweight can seriously disrupt your sleep. If you suffer from obesity, you might want to start by addressing that issue as the primary cause of your sleeplessness. Aside from the problems with being overweight, there are foods that you want to avoid before bedtime as well as foods that can aid in sleep. Fatty foods, for example, require a lot of stomach work to digest and can keep you awake at night. Also, spicy or acidic foods eaten during the evening can cause stomach issues and possibly heartburn at night.
Sleep inducive foods that you should include in your daily diet include those that are magnesium-rich like broccoli, nuts, pumpkin and squash seeds, black beans, whole grains9cereals, beans), soy milk
Other foods that may help to promote a healthy sleep: Artichokes ,avocados, almonds, eggs, bok choy, peaches, walnuts, oats, asparagus, potatoes, buckwheat, and bananas.
In addition to the above, you’ve probably heard that warm milk can be a good sleep-inducer. That’s because it contains tryptophan, a natural sleep-promoting substance. Have a warm glass of milk with your buckwheat-infused potato pancakes before bed – but don’t eat too much, and never too close to bedtime.
Exercise helps tremendously for people suffering from lack of sleep – however, there are rules to be followed. Although exercising daily will make you sleepy, when you exercise is as important as if you exercise. Exercising causes a release of endorphins which are responsible for your happy time as well as helping you relax when you get down to the business of getting to sleep.
When you exercise, you stimulate and raise the temperature of your body – the opposite of what’s needed during sleep. Heavy exercise within 4 hours of your bedtime will only complicate matters. You will increase your core body temperature, which will not have enough time to cool down – one of the signs your body needs to let it know that sleep is ensuing.
If you are somehow put off by the thought of exercise, it doesn’t have to mean an hour at the gym every day. Whether you’re doing yoga for 10 or 15 minutes in the morning or you simply take a brisk walk or stretch, any little bit helps. The more exercise you get during the day, the sleepier you’ll feel when it’s time for bed.
Diet and exercise are two stretches where you have total control – you decide what and when you eat as well as if and when you exercise. Start off by adding a couple of sleep-promoting foods to your diet and then slowly start adding some exercise into your daily routine. I assure you, your body will thank you for it.
Exploring insomnia and other sleeping disorders
Sleep disorders are becoming a common thing these days. A lot of people are suffering from them. The main issue regarding sleep disorders is that you must realize when it happens. Given below are a few questions, if you experience some or most of them, you might be suffering from a sleep disorder
WHAT IS INSOMNIA?
It is a medical condition which is characterized by an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. It is more like a disorder than a disease. However, people suffering from insomnia may show signs of stress and mood swings if their conditions are not improved, and they are not treated.
TYPES OF INSOMNIA
There can be different types of insomnia depending upon the duration period and intensity as well. It can be classified into three different types which are as follows.
Transient insomnia: It is the simplest form which lasts for less than a week. In this sleeping disorder, conditions may improve after a week, and you may even experience hypersomnia for a few days to compensate lost sleep. The causes could be a change of environment or stress.
Acute insomnia: it is somewhat more severe and may last for a month. The body shows signs of wear and tear, especially during day time. Patients who are suffering from such type of insomnia experience an inability to sleep even when circumstances are favorable, and the environment is conducive to sleeping. Lacking sleep for over a month may come along with other problems.
Chronic insomnia: this is the most severe type of insomnia. People who suffer from it may be prone to problems like hallucinations or double vision. Such people suffer from an inability to sleep for over a month, and the body suffers severely owing to disturbed sleeping patterns. Getting rid of this disorder is recommended for preserving sanity.
Apart from insomnia, there are some other disorders too which have been listed below.
Somnambulism: this is a sleep disorder wherein the patients tend to walk during sleeping. It is done subconsciously and can have lots of psychological after effect on the patients. The patients fail to recount the activities during the night as the brain fails to register their actions while asleep. It is a severe disorder which may need immediate help from doctors and physicians.
REM behavior disorder: this type of disorder is designated by rapid eye movements during sleep. Mainly, in such disorder patients suffer from troubled dreams and seem to act while asleep. They may scream, laugh, punch, and kick even without realizing it. In this type of disorder, the actions of the virtual world in your dreams are related to the reality of your actions. A lot of patients suffering from REM disorder have complained of nightmares as well as they may suffer from troubled dreams.
Narcolepsy: this is another sleep disorder where a patient may see a lot of hallucination, experience sleep paralysis which is the incapacity to move after waking up. Patients also tend to sleep heavily during day time as this disorder is described by altered biological life cycle.
Thus, there are various disorders related to sleep which could be troublesome. There are various others as well, but most of these are very uncommon. Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders which will be dealt in detail here; we shall provide the best ways of getting rid of this disorder which deprives you of peaceful sleep.
Following the methods and tips as well as tricks which are provided in this book, you may be able to sleep peacefully again. I have assembled some of the best methods which have been tried and tested and have proved to be successful as well. If you are suffering from insomnia, make sure to implement each tip as and when you read them. This way you would not omit the points and give yourself the best chance of recovering from the sleeping trouble.
The Main Symptoms of Insomnia
Sometimes, most people do not even recognize that they are suffering from insomnia. Owing to the busy working schedule, a lot of people tend to work late at night. They do not realize as to when this forced change of schedule becomes their habit and now even when they are free at 11 P.M. in the night; they cannot go to sleep, no matter how hard they try.
So, I would recommend you to check your symptoms with the list I provide to find whether or not you are an insomniac. This is not an exhaustive list. It is simply a collection of different common symptoms exhibited by insomniacs. It is likely to give you an idea of the condition.
The symptom check:
1. Do you feel a sense of lethargy when you get up in the morning?
2. Do you find it difficult to concentrate on your work during day time?
3. Do you find it difficult to sleep even when you go to your bed early?
4. Do you face trouble in sleeping again after you woke up in the night?
5. Do you often wake up when asleep during the night?
6. Do you feel drowsy the entire day?
7. Even after waking up in the morning, do you still feel tired and irritated?
8. Do you experience a drop in your attention levels?
If all these symptoms are real or more than a few ones are true, the odds of you suffering from insomnia are very high. The main symptom is the inability to sleep. If it happens for a couple of days, do not call it insomnia instantly. Sometimes, due to stress, people may find it difficult to sleep. However, if the problem persists for a week or longer, it is likely that you have been hit by insomnia.
There are lots of other sleep-related disorders which can be more troubling as well. Insomnia is not a disease which cannot be cured. With a slight change of habit, a more relaxed schedule and some activities, you might cure this disease condition. However, if the problem persists, seek professional help as this is not an issue you should adjust with.
These were the general symptoms most insomniacs suffer from; however, the actual symptoms may differ from one individual to other. Insomnia might lead to a lot of problems in your work as well as personal life. This is the reason; most people are recommended not to fiddle with their biological cycle. You should sleep when it is time and wake up during morning hours. An inability to do so might force the mind to “think”that it is a habit and once the irregular sleeping pattern becomes a habit, the troubles of insomnia are likely to haunt you.
How to Deal With Insomnia
More than fifty percent of insomnia cases are due to stress. So, the first point to grasp while understanding the right ways of dealing with insomnia is to stop stressing over matters. Even stressing for being an insomniac is not going to help matters and so, you need to stop fussing and start relaxing.
We shall provide you with the best methods that can help you in dealing with the trouble of inability to sleep. Only after you try these methods, you should opt for drugs and pills.
Observe and change eating habits:
You need to change some eating habits to get a good night’s sleep. Stop the use of caffeine and dark chocolates and all other food products which stimulate your senses during the night. Rather, you should indulge in food products that have a slight dose of sedatives in them. This shall help you better your chances of peaceful sleep.
Opt for massage therapy:
Sometimes, all you need to deal with insomnia is a relaxed body and a relaxed mind. There is no harm trying to relax, so you can opt for spas and massage so that you can unwind and relax your mind and body. If stress is the reason for your insomnia, massage and spa may help solve the trouble.
Avoid short naps:
Taking short naps during odd hours of the day is not recommended for patients suffering from problems of insomnia. As insomnia is characterized by an inability to sleep during the night, the right way of dealing with it could be to tire your body so that later at night when you fall on your bed, a tired body is sure to long for comfort and rest. So, you may be able to sleep soundly and get rid of insomnia. Taking short naps during day time could ease the fatigue in your body, and thus you are more likely to be haunted with troubles of insomnia.
This is the ultimate cure for a lot of disorders, insomnia is no different. A lot of insomniacs have helped their cases with the help of right meditation. With sound meditation activities, you can relax your mind and channelize the energy in your body in a useful way. Owing to sleep deprivation, the body is likely to have lots of wasted energy since the body fails to be refreshed with peaceful sleep.
Engaging in meditation might help solve this trouble as not only does it ease out the tension and lessen your stress levels, but it can help in washing your entire body down with a wave of calmness and tranquility. When the body is calm, the odds of you enjoying a peaceful sleep are more. So, meditation might be the right way to deal with troubles of insomnia.
I would like to supplement that it is necessary that you make the best effort to get rid of this problem. If you are complacent in your approach and you have taken insomnia as a habit, things can get worse. People who suffer from insomnia for too long may suffer from severe psychological issues. If you do not want to end up in the same lane, be prepared to shrug this medical condition, before the problem becomes a habit.
The best natural tricks that come handy for insomnia
Sometimes, you need to outwit your mind to get a sound of peaceful sleep. If the previous methods which I stated failed to work for you, you must try these trick ways to deal with insomnia.
Do not work in your room: those who suffer sleeping problems need to tutor their mind that a bedroom is a place for sleeping. Sometimes, teaching these lessons to the brain help in the sub conscious realization that every time you go to the room, you must try and sleep. So, you need to allow your bedroom only for sleeping purpose. It may lure your brain to believe that this room is meant for sleeping and thus may help in bidding goodbye to insomnia.
Wake up early: Sometimes, it is a good idea to wake up early in the morning and go for a walk. It is believed that doing so instructs your brain the difference between morning and night. A lot of psychiatrists have argued that if your brain receptors get the right message of the distinction between morning and night, they may help you in getting a peaceful sleep during night hours. Also, if you wake up early and avoid afternoon naps, the odds of falling asleep during nights are more.
Wear sleep masks: sometimes wearing sleep masks can help in sleeping as it blocks any light which may act as a distraction. So, dressed in the sleeping masks can better your chances of sleeping. Also, they help in cutting down distractive sights which may steel your sleep otherwise.
Light, soothing music: music is known as one of the best lullabies. So, listening to soft, slow tracks can help you in falling back asleep. Remember, to maintain the volume low and the tracks that you hear should not be full of energy or party anthem. For soothing you to sleep, you need soft tracks where melody sweeps from one note to other. Even opera songs may prove to be a good choice.
Avoid clocks: always remember that while sleeping you should not gaze at the wall clock or your wrist watches. It might be a sound idea to remove all watches from your room if you are suffering from insomnia. It is a common belief that gazing at watches will make you aware that the clock is ticking by and your problem of inability to sleep has persisted. The realization can lead to stress which shall further aggravate the problem. It is not something you would want. So, make sure you do not gaze at the watch or look at time ticking. Try and sing yourself to sleep.
So, these are some tricks which can be used if you want to enjoy peaceful sleep during the night. You have other methods too which include trying to satisfy your needs, completing all pending work, taking a warm bath and lot of other simple tasks. There is no guarantee that opting for these methods are sure to give you success.
Insomnia is a behavioral disorder as well. So, as long are not willing to cure yourself, there is no way you can get rid of it. Also, make sure you not to try things over, because, if you over try and put extra effort and the results do not show up, you are likely to be disappointed and stressed out which can only increase your insomniac troubles. So, go easy on yourself, relax and try and sleep during the night. If your mind is at peace, there should be no trouble sleeping.
The need to cure insomnia
If you are amidst the few people, who have no trouble with their sleep as they are contented to stay awake at night, I must say that it is a wrong way. You need to cure insomnia as altering your biological life cycle can have serious repercussions. While you might think it to be no big deal, you shall soon see the aftermath of your thinking. Many people have lost their sanity owing to extreme cases of insomnia. Although, these are rare and extreme cases, yet you cannot ignore them entirely.
Here, we shall list some of the troubles insomniacs are likely to face.
Owing to lack of sleep, loss of concentration is a common issue for insomniacs. So, if you want to have sharp concentration levels which are crucial for your work betterment, you need to get rid of the trouble of insomnia. Without the scheduled sleeping hours, there is no way you can maintain your level of attentiveness. The body fatigues and tires out easily, and thus leads do drops in performance output.
Patients who suffer from insomnia are known to suffer from problems of mood swings as these people do not have peace of mind. Owing to lack of sleep, such people can become short-tempered and show wild variations in moods which are not a healthy thing at all. So, if you want to live a healthy life which has no troubles of mood disorder, it is necessary to cure insomnia before the troubles become too irritating.
It is a common symptom for people suffering from insomnia. Since the body does not get proper rest owing to sleeping troubles; the patient is likely to feel a sense of lethargy. When a person sleeps, his entire body rests leading to dropping down to stress levels and dying of fatigue. In the event of troubled sleep, the stress levels increase and the fatigue builds up as well. So, lethargy becomes a common symptom.
Thus, if you want to avoid all the above, you need to get your insomnia treated. It is not incurable, sometimes, you do not even need pills for curing this problem as with a few change of routine and old habits, insomnia can be easily treated. However, if the condition gets worse, one needs to consult a doctor. But, remember you must try to fix the problem rather than learn to live with it. The long term effects can be disastrous. It is not mandatory that you sleep for 8-10 hours, but it is vital that even if you sleep for 6 hours a day, you get 6 hours of pure sleep with ease and no discomfort.
If it is so, you can be assured that you are no more an insomniac.
The benefits of undisturbed sleep
There are lots of benefits of sleeping peacefully.
- It helps in reducing the stress levels
- It cuts down the fatigue
- The body is washed with a feeling of fresh energy
- It adds to your attentiveness
- It cuts down the fatigue
- The power of concentration increases
These are some of the various benefits of a peaceful sleep. People who suffer from sleep disorders cannot avail these benefits, and this may lead to severe performance drop outs which may eventually destruct the confidence of the patient.
Even during normal working, say for a desk job, you need to be attentive, have rapt concentration and self-confidence, if you wish to succeed. Without the proper dose of sleep, you might not have any of the above requisites. Lack of sleep can wreak havoc on the way your body functions.
Our body has been so designed that even when you are not involved in any physical activity, the brain works in some way or the other. A few other body parts work as well. When we enjoy a peaceful sleep, brain activity drops down thus giving it the right amount of rest.
Without proper sleep, the brain performance may drop which shows in symptoms like a drop in concentration levels. So, even if you are not bothered by your inability to sleep, remember you need to sleep for the sake of providing your body some full-time rest.
So, to avoid all such troubles, the simple solution is to keep your problems at bay when you walk to your bedroom. If you can successfully manage to do so, you should have no trouble sleeping peacefully during night.
By now, you must have assimilated the needs and benefits of good sleep. So, if you have been troubled by insomnia, you now know the right methods of dealing with it. Following all that which has been mentioned here should cure you of this sleep disorder. However, in the unlikely event of the problem persisting, visiting a doctor might be the only option.
Medical conditions affecting sleep
Several people have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. However, they take it for granted not knowing that there could be a health condition that is affecting them. Studies have shown that disturbances such as insomnia, originate from certain medical conditions. The quantity, as well as the quality of sleep that a person gets, are linked to various health issues as well as diseases.
Sleeping problems can be caused by physical, emotional or hormonal conditions too. We shall discuss the most common medical conditions that affect sleep.
Research has shown that 90% of people who suffer from depression have trouble sleeping. In low-grade depression, insomnia is the most common symptom. Furthermore, waking up too early is also a sign of depression. Other symptoms related to depression include difficulty in falling asleep as well as sleeping too much. Too much worry can also make one unable to relax, making it difficult to fall asleep.
61% of women in menopause have problems falling asleep. One possible reason is that the levels of progesterone drop during this phase. Progesterone is a sleep-inducing hormone, and when the levels are low, insomnia kicks in.
People who have diabetes always find it had to have a restful sleep. This is because of sugar fluctuations, night sweats and the urge to urinate frequently at night.
The intense pain associated with arthritis can make it difficult to fall asleep. Additionally, patients who have arthritis who have to shift positions at night, most of the times find it difficult to fall asleep.
Due to difficulty in breathing, wheezing and coughing, people with asthma have sleep disturbances. Moreover, asthma symptoms are usually worse during the night. This is because the changes in the evening constrict the airways, increasing the risk of asthma attacks. Also, some of the asthma medications may cause insomnia or interrupted sleep.
Anorexia has been proven to interrupt normal patterns of sleep due to malnutrition and excess loss of weight. Studies have shown that anorexics get more non-REM sleep and less REM sleep as compared to people with normal weight.
On the other hand, bulimia is defined by binge eating during the night, and this interferes with sleep.
People with diseases of the kidney are unable to filter fluids and expel wastes as healthy people do. When these wastes build up, they can cause insomnia or symptoms of restless legs syndrome.
Lying in bed usually worsens heartburn, which is caused by the accumulation of stomach acid into the esophagus.
This is the need to get up frequently during the night to urinate. This is a common cause of sleeplessness. In mild cases, a person wakes up at least two times at night, and in drastic cases, an individual may get up as many as six times. This condition may be as a result of age; however, medical conditions such as sleep apnea, liver failure, and enlarged prostate may be another reason.
When it comes to tips and tricks to get you to sleep, there are hundreds of them. And sometimes, there are so many that it gets hard to figure out your personal sleep recipe. Well, put away those prescription sleep drugs and your Grandma’s super sleep elixir and just relax.