Sleep is an important aspect of health most people tend to get too little of. If you have trouble getting enough sleep, give these tips a try.
The book Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David K. Randall is full of brilliant information. If you don’t have time to read it, here are some of the main points!
“Most of us spend a full third of our lives asleep, and yet we don’t have the faintest idea of what it does for our bodies and our brains.”
Research on sleep is relatively young but important, because it will help us get one step closer to what it means to be fully conscious. In the 1950’s, rapid eye movement (REM) was discovered as researchers realized the body cycles through five stages over roughly ninety-minute periods:
- Stage one: Light sleep. Sleep so light you may wake up from it and not even realize you were sleeping.
- Stage two: Marked by sleep-specific brain waves that last only a few seconds at a time. You realize you were sleeping if woken up.
- Stage three: Deep sleep that involves long, rhythmic bursts called delta waves.
- Stage four: Deep sleep, called “slow-wave sleep,” where your brain is the farthest away it will ever travel from conscious thought. When woken during this stage, disorientation and “sleep drunkenness” are experienced.
- Stage five: REM stage where the brain is as active as it is when awake and where most dreams occur. Hormones are sent out to the body to paralyze itself so arms and legs don’t act out stories in dreams.
“Sleep isn’t a break from our lives. It’s the missing third of the puzzle of what it means to be living.”
Do you snore?
Uh oh. We can fix that. Snoring is not normal and could be caused from sleeping poorly or from carrying excess weight. While these aren’t the only causes, they are big ones and can be fixed!
Try to sleep on your back with only one pillow, and keep that pillow under your shoulders as well, so your neck isn’t crammed forward. It may be awkward and uncomfortable at first, but if you want improvement in your life, you have to be willing to change things.
This goes right along with excess weight as well. Start eating more plants, eliminate all animal products and over-processed fast food, drink more water, and go exercise more often. It’s simple. If you want to sleep better, you have to start living your waking life better.
Can’t fall asleep?
Don’t worry. We can fix that, too. Start dimming the lights in your home half an hour before you lay down. Artificial light messes with your body’s ability to prepare for sleep since your body still thinks it is daytime. Make your bed have one purpose: to sleep (intimacy is good too—that can help you sleep as well!).
This means no sitting on your phone or laptop while in bed. The light from the screens can also trick your mind into thinking its still daytime as well. There are phone apps available to turn the blue lights off on your screen. This would be helpful to use the last few hours before bed as well.
Spray lavender oils on your sheets and pillow for aromatherapy to make you sleepy.
Take sleeping pills?
Stop. Stop it right now. See above. Make changes in your life. And whatever you do, get off the meds. Additionally, don’t put pressure on yourself to sleep. Before you go to bed, think happy thoughts and allow your mind to calm down. Try playing soothing sounds on your phone (there are a ton of apps for this; my favorite is windy rain sounds!) or try a sleeping mask. It may seem silly, but eventually you will be teaching your body that when the mask goes on, it is time to sleep. This could be very helpful!
Studies show seeing pictures of people sleeping can also trick your brain into sleeping faster too. Focus on your breath and allow your mind to quiet as your body drifts off into slumber.
Is your bed too firm or too soft?
Trick question—it doesn’t matter! Whatever firmness you prefer is just perfect. Get a bed that is comfortable to you. You spend one third of your life in a bed; make sure you’re doing it right.
Sleep Strong Tips
- Dim lights in your home half an hour before bed
- Only use your bedroom for sleep and intimacy
- Keep the TV and computer out of your bedroom
- Don’t eat fast food
- Lose weight
- Eat breakfast near a window with natural light in the morning to restart your circadian rhythm
- Weight train
- Do yoga
- Try acupuncture
- Get a massage
- Stay on a schedule
- Work on daily deep breathing exercises, “belly breathing”
- Look at pictures of sleeping people before bed
- Don’t put pressure on yourself to sleep
- Write thoughts down in a notebook (don’t ever make mental “to-do” lists before bed)
Improve your sleep, improve your life.
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Claims on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research.. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.
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