Most individuals experience “lows” in life. From financial struggles to physical pain and emotional shifts, such lows can be annoying as they limit our potential and impede us from achieving our mission. A frustrating event that has detrimental effects in the long term is being unable to sleep.
Several factors could be responsible for this. Perhaps we’ve been stressed the entire day, or even for a longer period, such negative thoughts linger in our minds. Or, we’ve opted to sacrifice sleep for monetary gain due to rising living costs. There’s no doubt that good sleep is vital to the quality of our health. Poor quality sleep can lead to inhibited cognitive function, impeded biological functions, and adverse effects on your emotions and mood. Furthermore, health risks such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity tend to kick in since your body cannot relax and remove toxic substances. This article delves deeper into what causes one to sleep, what impairs your sleep quality, and how to sleep faster and better.
HOW DO WE SLEEP?
According to Brewer (2019), more often, individuals tend to fall asleep at night. It is possible to nap during the day, although this is not recommendable. With that said, how exactly do you fall asleep?
Located between the two brain hemispheres, the pineal gland is stimulated to secrete melatonin hormone. Melatonin is responsible for alerting the brain to fall asleep at night. Therefore, exposure to light, or blue light at night, interferes with melatonin production. Light information is transmitted to the hypothalamus, where the body’s “master clock” is located. Such information virtually affects all parts of the brain, including the pineal gland, which is responsible for the secretion of melatonin, suppressing the production of the melatonin hormone. Higher melatonin levels dramatically reduce brain waves, thus inducing deep sleep. Higher amplitudes and lower frequencies characterize such brain waves. Deep sleep is important since it relaxes the mind and eases muscle tension. Furthermore, your brain can sync memories, and your body tissues are repaired while toxic substances are removed.
WHY YOUR SLEEP SCHEDULE IS DISRUPTED
According to Song et al. (2018), depression, anxiety, and mood disorders negatively affect your sleep schedule. Since negative thoughts occupy your mind, you tend to have negative emotions, which induce the cortisol hormone (stress hormone). It may cause you to feel frustrated since you are unable to relax. Exposure to blue light can also interfere with sleeping patterns. According to Guarana et al. (2021), blue light disrupts the circadian rhythm, causing the melatonin hormone to be inaccurately triggered. Blue light is emitted by technological gadgets such as laptops, phones, televisions, and tablets.
In other cases, people may tend to do intense workouts before sleep. This action is counter-intuitive since its proximity to sleeping close and intense workouts massively drain your mind and muscles of their energy. Additionally, some people tend to take large amounts of nicotine or caffeine. Moreover, others eat acidic or spicy foods a few hours before sleep. Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, while acidic foods can cause heartburn. People who travel across various countries may find it difficult to sleep faster. It may be accrued to countries having different time zones. Therefore, training our brains to retire to sleep at different times than our natural “master clocks” need us to. Delayed sleep phase syndrome is a disorder that causes people to sleep and wake up extremely late or causes delayed sleep. DSPS can alter the circadian rhythm, which further impedes melatonin secretion. Such major alterations of the circadian rhythm can lead to fatigue.
HOW TO SLEEP FASTER AND BETTER
It gets frustrating when you cannot fall asleep as soon as you jump right into your bed. However, by using simple habits, you can learn and train your mind and body to fall asleep faster. Such habits require discipline and consistency to become effective in changing your sleep pattern for the better.
AVOID CONSUMING CAFFEINE, NICOTINE, OR ACIDIC FOODS.
As mentioned, caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that stimulate wakefulness and prevent you from sleeping. It is advisable to avoid caffeine at least 4 hours before going to sleep. Acidic foods can also cause heartburn, which may interrupt you while you try to get some sleep.
CONSIDER TRYING AROMATHERAPY
Aromatherapy can prove instrumental in making you fall asleep faster and better. Aromatherapy induces sleep by relaxing the mind since it involves using essential oils such as lavender oil, which have an amazing scent. Such oils help improve the room’s aura, providing a conducive environment in the process. Furthermore, aromatherapy eases muscle tension, which enables you to wake up feeling energized.
INCORPORATE BREATHING EXERCISES
The 4-7-8 rule technique is a breathing exercise that entails breathing in for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and breathing out for 8 seconds. Such rhythmic breathing relaxes the mind and eases muscle tension since more oxygen flows into the body.
AVOID USING YOUR TV, OR YOUR PHONE
According to Tosini et al. (2016), blue light can cause damage to body cells and brain cells. Reducing your exposure to blue light at least 2 hours before bedtime is important. It is because blue light interferes with the production of the melatonin hormone, causing you to stay awake unnecessarily. It is also advisable to wear glasses that block off blue light.
CONSIDER EXERCISING DURING THE DAY
Exercise improves blood circulation in your body, further facilitating the absorption and transportation of vital minerals and nutrients to the body tissues. Furthermore, exercising can improve muscle strength, deliver oxygen to tissues, enhance flexibility, improve cognitive function and make you feel happier. Exercising during the day improves your quality of sleep at night since anxiety levels are massively reduced while the cognitive function is increased.
INCORPORATE RELAXATION HABITS
Relaxation habits such as reading a book, listening to music, meditation and yoga can massively help you fall asleep faster and better. People tend to fall asleep faster when they are less stressed. Such activities increase serotonin levels, which help in reducing anxiety levels. Also, yoga enables you to engage in breathing exercises that improve your stamina and relax your mind. A relaxing shower can ease body tension while reading a book can relax and soothe your mind.
CONSIDER SLEEP-INDUCING SUPPLEMENTS
Supplements such as magnesium and melatonin have been key in inducing sleep, especially among insomniacs. It can be accredited to how supplements interact with the body by relaxing brain activity and boosting the secretion of melatonin hormone.
Sleep is an integral part of our general well-being. Not falling asleep can be frustrating and affect your mental and physical health. Deep sleep eases tension in our muscles, relaxes the mind, and facilitates the removal of toxic substances in the body. Consuming caffeine, exposure to blue light, anxiety, and stress can impair a person’s sleep schedule. The methods mentioned above can help a person sleep faster and better. Good sleep improves cognitive function, increases testosterone levels in men, and relaxes body muscles. Having a regular sleep schedule is important to avoid disrupting the circadian rhythm. Consult your doctor for more clarification if your condition does not improve
Brewer, D. (2019). The Science, Techniques, and Tips for How to Get To Sleep. Lulu. Com
Guarana, C. L., Barnes, C. M., & Ong, W. J. (2021). The effects of blue-light filtration on sleep and work outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 106(5), 784.
Song, Y. Y., Hu, R. J., Diao, Y. S., Chen, L., & Jiang, X. L. (2018). Effects of exercise training on restless legs syndrome, depression, sleep quality, and fatigue among hemodialysis patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Pain and symptom management, 55(4), 1184-1195.
Tosini, G., Ferguson, I., & Tsubota, K. (2016). Effects of blue light on the circadian system and eye physiology. Molecular Vision, 22, 61–72.