10 tips that will make everybody sleep better

sleep sheepIt’s estimated that an average 80 year old man sleeps 25 years, just under one third of his life. There is no satisfying answer to why the human organism needs to disconnect from reality during sleep, but one thing’s for sure: it’s one of the most important stages of our lives, often neglected, and responsable directly for your quality of life. Many people still don’t understand and appreciate the benefits of sleeping and ignore the hazards of losing sleep. If you want to find out more about it, read this. Here are some tips that if respected, will make you sleep better, rejuvenate and feel better every single day.

Do the same sleep ritual every time.

There is still much left to understand about the human brain, but scientists pointed out that it prefers working after the same general scheme. Any significant change in the scenario turns into a minor brain alarm that sends out stress signals throughout the body, possibly leading to insomnia. Do the same thing on weekends too.

Go to sleep and wake up at approximately the same time

Of course, the odds are life will put out obstacles in your way and it won’t allow you to stick to your program on some days. The point is not to lose your balance and keep going with your waking hour. Also, when you go to bed, don’t try to force yourself to sleep.

Make the right conditions in the bedroom.

Each of us have our own preferences when it comes to our room. If your a very tidy person having a cluttered room may be keeping you from going to sleep, despite the fact that you may not even realize this. But for most people, having your room clean is not a must. The colour of your walls does have a big impact on you. While having a bright orange will help your creativity, it won’t be so good when trying to sleep, so you really should use some soothing colours such as a light blue or sage green. Your bedroom should be anything but hot, and it should also be quiet and dark. Your bed and pillow should be very comfortable and large enough for you. Also, according to some recent studies, if you do errands on the bed (such as writing or studying), your brain associates it with something else than rest, and you may have problems going to sleep. The room has to be ventilated properly.

Don’t ignore the morning routine.

I’ve written a whole lot about this topic here, you really should check it out.

Don’t eat or drink large amounts before sleeping.

If you have a light dinner, it can be up to 2-3 hours before going to bed. However, if you eat more at dinner (which is not a good thing in itself) it should be 4 hours earlier. You should also be careful what you eat, don’t make it something that will upset your stomach.

Give up unhealthy habits.

Drinking coffee or soda or alcoholic beverages. The drinks are all stimulants (even alcohol) and they require quite a while to get out of your system; and about smoking… I’m not even gonna go into that. Quit smoking!! It’s really not that hard.

Exercise.

Exercising does wonders for you in a whole number of ways, and let’s be honest, it’s not that hard to do. Whether you go to your local gym, go out for a jog or a swim, a few hours a week is a small price to pay when it comes down to your health. It also makes your sleep more restful but you have to be careful not to exercise for three hours (some say six hours) before going to bed, otherwise it could mess with your body.

Short naps are good, long ones are not.

We did a more detailed post about napping here, so check out the details there, but keep in mind that if you sleep a lot during the day, you’ll find it harder and harder to sleep early at night.

Use pills only as a last resort.

Unfortunately, it’s getting easier and easier to get some sleeping pills, and many people abuse that. If you find it hard to sleep, you first need to think positive, and don’t get the ‘I have insomnia’ idea in your head, because it will be hard to take out from there. If you can’t sleep for more than half an hour, you become pretty stressed about not being able to sleep so it’s better if you do something relaxing, read or listen to some calm music. Think positive thoughts; you’ve worked for a whole day and still have energy and can’t go to sleep, I’ll just compensate tomorrow and stick to a schedule.

Let go of your stress and worries.

I have my own ritual: almost everytime I go to sleep, I ponder of the day that has passed, with the good and the bad, thinking what I could have done differently, understand how I can do better, but I don’t let it affect me. After I do that, it’s much easier to go to sleep, having found peace with myself and letting go of all the stress. Find your inner balance and let go of your thoughts after that.

I can’t stress the issue of proper sleep enough, but hopefully by now, you’re beginning to understand just what a big mistake neglecting it is and the major consequences it can have. Just following these small steps can have a huge benefic impact on you, and they require a minimum of effort, if any at all.

Photo credits: 1,2, 3, 4

Napping: good or bad?

Puppies
Photo by Back in the Pack

So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise
You better see right through that mother’s eyes
Those freaks was right when they said you was dead
The one mistake you made was in your head
Ah, how do you sleep?
Ah, how do you sleep at night?

~John Lennon~

The benefits of napping have been argued for years, by the world’s finest sleep statisticians and researchers, with mixed opinions. Some argue napping is bad for you, as it causes instability to your internal clock and sleep disorders, while other believe naps to be very healthy and quite recommend it. General thought is that for every two hours you are awake you accumulate one hour of “sleep debt”. (16 awake and 8 asleep fits nicely into a 24 hour day, eh what?) If you don’t pay off your debt during your nightly sleep, it carries over until you do get it paid off. Your nap probably serves to push back how early you can fall asleep at night.

Lately a new term has been coined by specialists, called “power napping,” that consists in napping a full hour, during which your energy levels should be at a maximum. So in layman’s terms, grabbing an hour’s sleep during the day may be as beneficial as a whole night in bed, according to scientists. Of course some sleep during the night is needed, don’t think  it’s possible for a man, who hasn’t slept for over 24 hours, to recuperate a night time of sleep in the course of one hour. Even the brains agree, as experts say that a full night’s sleep is still necessary for many vital body functions, even though a short sleep may boost learning and memory.

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20 Things you wanted to know about sleep but were too afraid to ask

sleep

Sleeping is in fact somewhat of a mistery to us because we don’t quite fully understand the complex mechanisms which happen to us when we are sleeping. Sure we know most of them or at least we think we know most of them yet some still are a mistery to us. Here is a list of things which you may find more or less useful but the facts are pretty interesting.

  • The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.
  • – Anything less than five minutes to fall asleep at night means you’re sleep deprived. The ideal is between 10 and 15 minutes, meaning you’re still tired enough to sleep deeply, but not so exhausted you feel sleepy by day.
  • A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year.
  • The continuous brain recordings that led to the discovery of REM (rapid eye-movement) sleep were not done until 1953, partly because the scientists involved were concerned about wasting paper.
  • REM dreams are characterised by bizarre plots, but non-REM dreams are repetitive and thought-like, with little imagery – obsessively returning to a suspicion you left your mobile phone somewhere, for example.
  • No-one knows for sure if other species dream but some do have sleep cycles similar to humans.
  • Elephants sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lie down for REM sleep.
  • Some scientists believe we dream to fix experiences in long-term memory, that is, we dream about things worth remembering. Others reckon we dream about things worth forgetting – to eliminate overlapping memories that would otherwise clog up our brains.
  • Dreams may not serve any purpose at all but be merely a meaningless byproduct of two evolutionary adaptations – sleep and consciousness.
  • REM sleep may help developing brains mature. Premature babies have 75 per cent REM sleep, 10 per cent more than full-term bubs. Similarly, a newborn kitten puppy rat or hampster experiences only REM sleep, while a newborn guinea pig (which is much more developed at birth) has almost no REM sleep at all.
  • Scientists have not been able to explain a 1998 study showing a bright light shone on the backs of human knees can reset the brain’s sleep-wake clock.
  • Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%.
  • The NRMA estimates fatigue is involved in one in 6 fatal road accidents.
  • The “natural alarm clock” which enables some people to wake up more or less when they want to is caused by a burst of the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin. Researchers say this reflects an unconscious anticipation of the stress of waking up.
  • Some sleeping tablets, such as barbiturates suppress REM sleep, which can be harmful over a long period.
  • A night on the grog will help you get to sleep but it will be a light slumber and you won’t dream much.
  • Ten per cent of snorers have sleep apnoea, a disorder which causes sufferers to stop breathing up to 300 times a night and significantly increases the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
  • Snoring occurs only in non-REM sleep
  • Teenagers need as much sleep as small children (about 10 hrs) while those over 65 need the least of all (about six hours). For the average adult aged 25-55, eight hours is considered optimal
  • Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24-hour accessibility of the internet.
  • Well hopefully we’ve been of some use to you. Read the last thing. Twice 🙂