Sleep problems are not fair. They are cheaters that rob us of energy and optimism, dragging a gray, bleary veil over daily activities. With an exhausted mind and body, how can we continue to function?
If you are reading this article, you have probably tried many different tactics to lure the sandman into your evening hours. Here are a few ideas you may not have considered.
To Nap or Not to Nap
There are mixed reports on the usefulness of a nap. If you have mastered the power nap, congratulations! This can be a great way to recharge for the afternoon without breaking into your nighttime routine. However, longer naps can be the proverbial monkey wrench in your plans to develop better sleep habits.
Some studies show that extended naps of one or more hours can contribute to heart problems. The goal is to try to stay awake until bedtime. One of the contributors to the mid-afternoon slump is dehydration. In fact, Americans tend to operate in a constant state of dehydration. It triggers headaches, driving Americans to doctors in droves for diagnosis.
In fact, in this country we often misinterpret the deed for water as hunger pangs. This, of course, contributes to obesity, which leads to a whole other nest of sleep problems.
Yuck. ALWAYS with the ACTIVITY!! But, if you have trouble sleeping at night, adding a few – thousand – steps to your daily routine may contribute to a good night’s sleep.
If you are not up to a 30-minute workout every, single, day, try walking in place for 250 steps every hour. It actually energizes you and gets your blood flowing. It takes less than 5 minutes to walk those 250 steps, and the benefits will lower your cholesterol and, ultimately, your blood pressure.
Do your most physical activities during the day or early evening hours so that you don’t get all energized just before bed.
The end result will hopefully be a better night’s sleep. Your day is more alert and awake and your body’s rhythms are more likely to respond to the slower pace of the evening. You’ll both fall asleep faster and get better, more refreshing sleep.
Blue Screen Filters
Many people spend the hour before bed watching TV, surfing the internet and social media, or reading. If you are reading on your smartphone, you are exposed to the same sleep-robbing light found on computer screens and TVs.
Blue light from these screens – for some reason that probably has boring science behind it – interferes with sleep centers in the human brain. You can add blue light filter apps to your devices to remediate this problem. You can also buy gaming glasses. They’re amber-tinted glasses that take the blue out of perceived light on your screen.
Seek Temperate Climates
Well, if you can’t take off for the Bahamas, try turning down the air conditioning – which is probably what you would do in the Bahamas, anyway. Studies have shown that most people sleep better when the room is 63 F (as reported here on Sleep.org). If that seems a little too low, you’re not alone. Apparently, people tend to emit more heat as they sleep, so they tend to warm up the bed to an uncomfortable level, which disturbs their sleep.
Don’t cool down the room, cool down the mattress
If you are a warm sleeper, chances are that your bill will go through the roof in the summer as you try to keep the whole house cool 24/7. That’s all well and nice during the day, but why would you cool the house down at night when you’re stationary in a few cubic meters of air.
Instead, be smart and cool down only the air around you and the mattress beneath you with a cooling mattress pad or a fan. Not only does it make fiscal sense but active cooling of a mattress fan of gel pad can’t be compared to air conditioning. You’ll just have to know how to choose the best cooling pad for your situation – The Sleep Studies recently published an updated guide on their top picks among cooling mattress pads and fans.
Nothing beats a cold surface against your body on a scorching august night.
Light is actually a strong influence on your ability to sleep. Dim the lights about an hour before bedtime to signal your body that it needs to start slowing down. Lower light levels will begin to trigger melatonin production, which is necessary for a good night’s sleep. If you worry about being able to wake up in the morning, incorporate light into your alarm system as well.
You can program lights to come on dimly about 30 minutes before time to get up. This will help to turn off the melatonin and trigger your brain to start pulling you out of deep sleep. The lights can be programmed to be at full-daylight brightness at the time your alarm goes off, making it easier to transition from sleep to the frustration of the workday.
Sleep Pattern Tracking
There are several different sleep pattern tracking devices on the market.
If you can sleep with attachments, try one of the many other gadgets that will record your sleep.
All of these gadgets record your heart rate, respiration rate, deep sleep, light sleep, periods of restlessness, and the number of times you wake up during the night. Some of them also record environmental factors that may be affecting your sleep. For instance, if you find yourself jolting awake at 3 am every morning, it could be because that is when your neighbor slams the door after putting his cat out.
You’ve got this
By ditching a few bad habits, you might be able to improve your sleep. And, by adding a few good habits, you may find yourself feeling better and sleeping better.