Ask Away Blog: How Do You Get To Sleep? Simple Question, Difficult Answer

How Do You Get To Sleep? Simple Question, Difficult Answer

Friday, August 2, 2019

Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep per night to feel rested. How much sleep you need depends heavily on your particular biology, but generally, most people need somewhere in this range.

The problem is that the majority of us aren’t getting it. Figures from The Good Body suggest that about 20 percent of people living in the US have a sleeping disorder and that 35 percent don’t get the recommended 7 hours every night.




The amount of time that we spend asleep as gone down markedly over the last one hundred years. In 1910, researchers estimated that the average person got nine hours of sleep per night. Once it went dark, there wasn’t much for people to do, so they hit the sack, waiting for the light the next morning.

The modern world changed all that. Screens are everywhere, and with mobile devices, they’ve come into the bedroom too. You can watch videos all night long on your phone if you like: there’s practically no limit.

The epidemic of sleep deprivation is costly to the economy. Estimates suggest that we lose around $411 billion per year from lost productivity due to a lack of sleep. Sleep is something that we need to do better at if we’re going to thrive, both as individuals and as a society.

The trick is, how do you get to sleep? The question sounds simple enough, but if you think about it, it’s actually quite challenging to put an answer into words. We all fall asleep (even people with insomnia), but describing how we do it doesn’t come easily. We sort of drift off, slowly losing consciousness, our minds going into a new mode that’s distinct from our waking lives.

It turns out that there are ways that you can improve your chances of sleeping well. Take a look at some of these basics of getting a good night’s sleep.

Wind Down Before You Go To Bed
If you’re a productive person trying to juggle a job and family life, then you can feel as if you have to work all the time, even when you’re not working. But concentrating for hours at a time, even before going to bed is a bad idea.

The way our sleep cycles work is complicated, but if you want to fall asleep quickly, then you’ll struggle if you work up to the wire. You need to create the right hormonal environment for sleep. You can’t sleep if you’re stressed and cortisol is racing around your body.

Winding down before bed is relatively straightforward as long as you give yourself time. You don’t need to enter a meditative state or do strange rituals; having a bath is usually enough.

You can also spend some time taking the pressure off for the next day by creating a to-do list. Knowing that you have all your errands sorted for tomorrow will stop you from worrying about them before you hit the sack.

If you’re somebody who responds well to audible relaxation techniques, then you might want to play some relaxing sounds or music. Gentle, soothing music can make a big difference to the way you feel and put you in the mood for rest.

Change Your Bedroom Setup



Pixabay

The way you set up your bedroom can have a remarkable influence on how well you sleep in it.

I hate to say it, but screens are a big no-no. The problem with screens isn’t just that they emit a blue light which keeps you up; they also train your unconscious to stay awake in the bedroom.

Your unconscious should be under no illusions once you step foot in your sleeping space - all you do here is sleep. You don’t spend hours watching Netflix on your TV or browsing Instagram on your phone. Your head hits the pillow, and that’s it.

Light from the outside can also disturb your sleep. People who live in busy cities often don’t get as high quality of sleep as people living in the country because of light pollution. Street lights and the general glow of the town trick the brain into thinking it’s morning, leading to hormonal changes that keep you awake.

The good news is that you can get around this problem quickly with blackout curtains. These curtains block the light entering the room, making it as dark as a regular night under the stars.

Make Your Bedding More Comfortable
The link between the comfort of your bed and the quality of your sleep is quite strong. It’s crucial, therefore, to set it up so that discomfort isn’t an issue preventing you from drifting off.

If you sleep on your front, it’s worth doing a little research on the best pillows for stomach sleepers. Likewise, if you sleep on your side or back, you may want to find out which styles of pillow offer the best support.



Pixabay

Mattress firmness can make a big difference too, as can material. You may be the sort of person who benefits more from space-age bedding materials which distribute weight, especially if you’re obese.

Cool Your Bedroom Down
People tend to sleep best when the ambient temperature is cool (but not too cold). The optimal temperature seems to be somewhere between 60 and 70 F, although your experience may vary. When your body goes to sleep, it cools down naturally. Your body temperature can fall as low as 94 F during sleep, about 3 F below normal.

Write Down Your Experiences In A Sleep Diary
If you’ve tried all of the above and none of it has worked, then you might want to keep a sleep diary. The purpose of a sleep diary is to describe your experiences so that you can identify patterns and problems.

Most of the time, it’s easy to solve an issue. There may, however, be occasions where your mind plays the same thoughts over again and again. Rumination is challenging to resolve and can keep you up at night as you worry.

You could also have an underlying medical condition which is driving your insomnia.



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