It’s already past midnight, but you just won’t fall asleep. How did this happen again? Follow these instructions of the sleep school to solve sleep problems.
Find sleep thieves
1. What did you put in your mouth?
Maybe the coffee date with a friend stretched out too late in the evening, you had to drink too much tea in the evening, or the soft drink you drank after your workout contained guarana.
Chocolate, tobacco, alcohol and some medicines can interfere with sleep, as well as an heavy, greasy or hot evening meal.
2. Multifunction room or bedroom?
If there’s a pile of laundry in the corner of the bedroom, a laptop is humming on the bedside table and in the middle of a creaking bed hangs a big dog, one must start to think about sleep ergonomics. Build a soothing place from your bedroom: clean, fresh, soothing, a little cool, pitch black and quiet. Clean up extra items and decorate the room with soothing colors. You spend a third of your life in bed – so invest in a new bed rather than a TV. Get quality bedding and a good pillow that doesn’t need to be turned over and fluffed along the night. All you need is a good blackout curtain and a small reading lamp that you can turn off without getting out of bed.
3. Activities in bed
Declare the bed as an activity-free area. No more spending time in bed, chatting on the phone, arguing, filling grids or enjoying an evening meal. Allowed things are sleeping, sex, and reading just before bedtime.
4. Night hermit
You will need your own bed if you repeatedly wake up at night because your to bed buddy snores or have someone’s toes on your pillow. Place yourself a comfortable hermit bed where you can escape to peaceful dreams if needed. Sleeping alone can be a miserable idea, but it doesn’t have to be every night solution. After the first shock, many find it wonderful to sleep in their own peace.
5. Routines are mixed up
Create a steady routine: get up at a certain time, both on weekends and on weekdays. Few regret afterwards that they did not even spend a day off under a blanket.
Check your lifestyle
1. Good food, better sleep
Slow carbohydrates help maintain a good state of alertness during the day, rapid blood sugar fluctuations cause flutter throughout the day. Some foods also promote sleep. Try to enjoy eggs, fish, dairy products, whole grains, a sweet dessert or a little meat for dinner. Even a late dinner may help you fall asleep, as long as it’s not too heavy.
2. Evening workout may keep you awake
Exercise deepens sleep and makes it easier to fall asleep, but improperly timed exercise has the opposite effect. A hard workout should not be done late in the evening, but several hours before bedtime. Physical activity should decrease steadily per evening.
3. Take your sleep seriously
Sleep is as important a lifestyle factor as exercise and diet. Take it seriously, and don’t waste time on other activities from sleep. If necessary, a person can survive for long periods of time with a bad night’s sleep. However, prolonged sleep deprivation is a health risk and increases the risk of, for example, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, elevated fat levels and depression.
Stairs to sleep
1. Slow down
High levels of “action hormones” such as adrenaline and cortisol are not part of good night time. The engine should start to slow down, but the mind races. In order for the body to have time to calm down, stairs must be built between wakefulness and sleep.
Think of the hours as stairs you walk down. The later it is, the calmer you go and the more carefully you avoid things and thoughts that are accelerating or disturbing.
Work issues are no longer addressed or considered. The last hour before going to bed should be spent as passively as possible, sitting or lying down. At the lower end of the stairs, awaits sleep.
2. Dim the lights
Bright light interferes with the secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin in the pineal gland, which regulates the sleep-wake rhythm. Dim the lighting for a couple of hours before going to bed. Stay in the bright light in the morning, as twilight leaves the pineal gland at half power. Go outside a lot, because even on a cloudy day, daylight has a positive effect on sleep-wake rhythm.
3. Out of thought carousel
If the day’s thoughts threaten to stay spinning in your mind, try to deal with them early in the evening. Discuss them with someone or write them in a journal. Then start thinking about something else. Reading, handcrafts, or watching TV can help calm the mind so that the thought carousel doesn’t start spinning when you press your head on the pillow.
4. Turn off the devices
Electronic devices are bad in bed. If you haven’t suffered from sleep problems in the past, by using your phone or tablet, you can get to the sleepless club by a shortcut. The bright light on the screens interferes with melatonin production, and radiation from the devices can also interfere with sleep. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, put it in airplane mode at night.
5. Wild card
Try a spike mat just before going to bed. Many people find it very relaxing and soothing.
Jump on the sleep train
1. Listen to your body
When the body is tired, it communicates about its condition. The brain’s fast beta waves are starting to turn into slower alpha waves, and thoughts are starting to get harder to hold on to. You may feel a little chilly, the eyes are a bit hazy and need to be rubbed. Sleep problems are often solved already by learning to respect these messages. Often, however, we fight them: the movie has to be watched to the end, no matter how hard the eyelids weigh. And when it’s finally time to turn off the TV, you are not be tired any more.
2. Do not sleep until you are sleepy
A sleep train is a thought game that teaches you to listen to your body’s fatigue messages. When signals about the approaching sleep appear, a sleep train traveling to the dream world stands at the station. If we jump aboard, the chances of getting sleep increase. Traveling on a sleep train means that the body determines bedtime. You don’t go to bed just because it’s getting late, but only when your body gives signs of fatigue: yawning, eyelids weighing, and it’s starting to get a little hard to focus on the TV show. It’s time to hop on the train.
3. Don’t stay on the platform
For many people, the sleep train is really fast, stopping only for a short time. Then a bookmark is inserted and the movie is left unfinished. If you do not respond to body fatigue messages, you will be late for the train. Then all you have to do is keep reading the book and wait for the next fatigue peak, which will appear perhaps in half an hour, maybe in an hour. It is often best to wait for the train in bed.
Still not tired!
1. Be indifferent
Anxiety causes the body to produce stress hormones, which the body interprets as an impending danger and begins to fight sleep. Therefore, forcing oneself to sleep by “fighting” is usually doomed to failure. Don’t stress about sleep.
2. Stop the time
Don’t look at the clock for how many more hours you can sleep. It just adds pressure. Make the bedroom a space where time does not exist. Hide clocks out of sight. Timelessness may seem distressing at first, but in the end it is very reassuring. Night changes the sense of time. The internal time of the head passes faster than reality. Try not to guess the time or the course of the night. Focus on being in the moment. Even if you feel like you’ve been awake for a long time, it doesn’t matter. When you fall asleep, your body does its best to catch lost sleep hours in quality. You still have time.
3. Get up from the bed
Try a new strategy. From now on you are in bed only when you are sleeping. Wait up to 15-20 minutes to sleep in bed, but if you do not fall asleep, get up. If you feel restless, get up earlier. Do this at night or early in the morning if you wake up and can’t get any more sleep.
Stay up for at least as long as you tried to get some sleep and go to bed again only when you get tired. If you are not sleeping, do not lie in bed. In practice, the method is quite challenging. Even if you don’t fall asleep, you’re not feeling refreshed. Promise yourself something nice. Make some good tea, save a good book or magazine for your moments of the night. Listen to relaxing music or do whatever you like.
4. Let the information comfort you
A phenomenon called imaginary insomnia is well known in hospitals that study sleep disorders: a patient who snores all night may say he has been awake all night. The brain does not always interpret the two lightest stages of sleep as sleep. In light sleep, we may also hear the sounds of the environment through sleep. Therefore, even after half an hour of sleep, a person may experience that he or she has just lay awake with his eyes closed and “thinking”. Periods of waking up at night can also seem like hours long, although in reality they are considerably shorter. It is very difficult for a person himself to estimate the length of sleep time, sleep time and awake period, or even how many times he has woken up during the night. Awareness of this can seem very relieving to an insomnia sufferer.
Medication for insomnia
- Insomnia should be treated drug-free whenever possible. Sleeping pills have a lot of side effects.
- However, sometimes it is necessary to use sleeping pills, because insomnia is also harmful to health.
- Benzodiazepine derivatives or antidepressants used to treat insomnia are used to treat short-term insomnia. Insomnia caused by psychiatric problems can be treated with antipsychotics.
- In people over 60, the harms of long-term use of sleeping pills outweigh the benefits.
- Doctors are increasingly prescribing the sleep hormone melatonin. It makes it easier to fall asleep and has no significant side effects.
Alternatives to sleeping pills
- The herbal valerian is safe and widely used.
- Chamomile tea has been used as a “sleeping pill” for thousands of years.
- Lavender and sandalwood are used as soothing scents in aromatherapy.
- You can and should also seek help for sleep problems from relaxation exercises, yoga, mindfulness exercises or meditation.
Do you always have to sleep for 8 hours?
- An adult needs about 7.5 hours of sleep a night. However, the need for sleep can be very different for different people. Some don’t need to sleep more than five hours, others may need to sleep ten.
- The need for sleep also changes with the life cycle and varies from day to day depending on the life situation and the chores of the day.
- For people who only need a short night’s sleep, sleep is often remarkably deep: the proportion of deep sleep and REM sleep is relatively higher.
- More important than the amount of sleep is the quality of sleep – the fact that sleep is deep enough and coherent.