Fighting sleep as much as I do? Just can't fall asleep even when you do want to? This post is for you.
Ideally, it’s recommended that people get 7-9 hours of sleep each night to have enough energy to sustain daily activities, have a healthy immune system, and emotional control. Sleep is necessary for survival and benefits our overall mental and physical well-being. With that being said, unpopular opinion here, but I think sleep is the biggest waste of time.
The fact that I have to surrender a third of my day to be asleep and unable to participate in activities or be more productive in my day makes me frustrated. It is baffling to me that humans haven’t evolved past a need for sleep or at the very least could manage off 2-4 hours of sleep a day.
Unfortunately, evolution hasn’t caught up with how I’d like to live my life and I do have to adhere to the whole 7-9 hours of sleep a night thing. I don’t love it; in fact, I fight it daily. If you’re someone like me who would rather not sleep, or you wish you could and just can’t fall asleep, here are some tried and true ways to catch some better z’s.
1) Turn off Electronics One hour Before Bed
I get it, it’s incredibly easy to fall asleep to the sounds of your favorite tv show in the background. It’s harmful in the long run though because the sounds create a distraction for your brain making it more challenging to enter into REM sleep, which is where the benefits of sleep come from. Playing games on your phone or spiraling down Instagram and TikTok rabbit holes are no better.
According to sleep.org, having artificial light streaming through your tv or phone during late-night hours can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm and affect the way your body produces melatonin. If you’re just tuning into the wonderful world of sleep hacks, let me explain what those terms mean.
Your circadian rhythm is the natural cycle your body goes through between being awake and being asleep. In other words, this is your body's internal clock, letting you know when it’s time to go to bed or wake up. Disrupting it with artificial light and stimulants can throw your internal body clock out of whack, making it more challenging to fall asleep when you need to. Melatonin is the chemical produced by the brain to make you tired, and you guessed it, throwing your body out of balance with all-night binge-watch marathons disrupts the natural production of melatonin in the body.
If you can’t wind down without some kind of outside stimulant, grab a book or turn on some soothing nighttime sounds or music and relax that way before closing your eyes and drifting off to dreamland. If you choose to go the musical route, be sure to play music through an external speaker rather than keeping headphones on throughout the night. Not only are headphones and earbuds incredibly uncomfortable to wear all night, according to dawnstudy.com, sleeping with something on or in your ears all night can lead to hearing damage, skin necrosis, and wax buildup. Gross.
A good night's sleep is best with minimal outside sounds and stimulants! by turning things off and settling into a quiet, dark, peaceful space an hour before bedtime, you allow your mind to switch into sleep mode and are more likely to wake up feeling well-rested.
2) Keep the Bedroom for Sleeping
To be fair, the bedroom is really for two things. Sleeping and, you know. Bow chicka bow wow. The point being here when you blur the lines of what your bedroom is really for, you make it more difficult in the long run for your brain to associate it with a place of rest.
For example, if you work from home and stay in bed, working from your laptop, you create the connection in your mind that your bed is also your office. Who sleeps in their office?! Not you, that’s for sure. Furthermore, if you eat meals regularly in your bed, you’re building the connection that your bed is also your dining table. Crumbs aside, that’s not an incredibly healthy habit. Mostly for the fact you’re probably eating hunched over or in a reclined position which isn’t ideal for mealtime posture. Your body will have an easier time digesting food if you’re sitting up straight.
In an article published by the American Posture Institute, eating in a hunched-over position can lead to the compression of key organs involved in the digestion process. This means you may end up with heartburn if you slouch while you supper.
Practice keeping your bedroom a space solely for rest, sleep, and physical activities of adult nature. Keep the food and the workload off the mattress!
3) Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Day
This is easier said than done. Especially if you work an irregular schedule. Training your body's inner clock to respond to going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day will make it easier to fall asleep when you need to. There are studies that now show people have unique and differing natural sleep cycles and different people can function better at different times of the day. Literal science to support your night owl habits.
In a post on Healthy Sleep, through Harvard, there is more in-depth research and information regarding sleep cycles, sleep disorders, and the role genetics plays when it comes time to snooze. It’s been found that generally, night owls are the kids of other night owls, inheriting their sleep cycle through genetics.
Be a night owl, be a morning person! Figure out whatever your natural sleep cycle is and run with it. Whichever time you pick to settle in for a long snooze, be consistent with it. Practice makes perfect and repetition creates habits. Habits create a better night's sleep. A better night’s sleep makes you a better functioning person.
Now that you’ve got the tips and tricks to get yourself a good night’s sleep, go get yourself all tucked in and cozy in bed. Relax, unwind and count sheep. You can thank me tomorrow when you’re fully rested and recharged!