Adults do not sleep any longer, period. And so it always seems that the rite of passage to becoming an adult is less and less sleep. Most people can fill that sleep void now with things like Facebook and Twitter, but a lot of individuals still find themselves staring at that picture above the bed until 6am. So guess what? I think it is time we did something about it.
But before we come up with solutions on how to kill the sleep disorder plaguing us, what could be causing it?
The Cause of Our Insomnia;
Aging: Well, you don’t say? As humans age, we tend to have breaks in our sleep, waking up every couple of hours. The body is only properly rested when we have a continuous flow of sleep. And it doesn’t help that as you grow older, your bathroom break intervals get shorter and shorter, meaning you probably have to wake up to pee in the middle of the night.
Addictions: You are probably thinking “I’m not a drug addict, so I’m fine.” When I speak about addictions here, I’m referring to things like coffee, soda, cigarettes, and alcohol. Maybe we can cut out the cigarettes for most people because we already all know that is bad, but did you know that bottle of Coca Cola you drink every day could be deterring your sleep cycle just as much as the cigarettes do for the smoker? Because the caffeine in coffee and a bottle of Coke stay in your system for most of the day, they tend to affect your sleep cycle as well. And just like any addiction, the more you drink, the more your body gets immune to it. And that makes you drink even more.
Alcohol acts in a different way. When you drink it, it tends to relax the body and put you to sleep. But then when the effect starts moving out of your system, it agitates your body and keeps you awake.
The Day-Night Cycle: We all have a daily cycle that our bodies get used to. The more we switch up this cycle, the more confused our bodies get. And things like bright lights at night or work papers in bed tend to confuse our bodies even more. It’s like our mind thinks it time for bed, then it doesn’t, then it does…
Alright, as we all read that, we’re probably figuring what we may be doing to cause us to sleep less. Now, on to the next big question. How can we sleep more?
The Cure for Insomnia;
Bed equals Sleep: As I said before, things like bringing work papers or computers to bed can confuse our bodies into thinking we are not ready for sleep even if we are. Let your mind associate your bed with sleep. Keep the bed area clear, and remove all laptops, food or cell phones from around the bed. Reserve work to the couch, the work desk, or even the dining table.
Low Lights: The later it gets the dimmer your lights should be. Right before bed, try not to keep your room too bright. Because even if you turn out the lights completely when you want to sleep, if you had kept bright fluorescent lights on all night, your brain cannot just easily make that adjustment. Also, if you wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, keep the lights you use as low as possible so you can fall back asleep.
Shacking: So I know I can’t ask you not to drink alcohol at all. But if you do, try to drink a glass of water for each glass of alcohol. Water counterbalances the dehydration effect of alcohol.
Another type of shacking: For all other liquids (water, Coke, coffee), keep them as far away for bedtime as possible. Obviously, with coffee, it keeps you awake, and it takes forever to get through the body. So the farther away from bedtime, the closer you would be to getting knocked out. With water, it’s just about nighttime bathroom breaks. We always tell young kids to not drink right before bed so they don’t have to wake up to use the bathroom. Well, welcome to being a kid again. If sleep eludes you, and you finally get to close your eyes, the last thing you should want to do is break that sleep to go and use the bathroom. So keep the liquids as far away from bed time as possible.
Short naps: We should already be aware of this, but I’ll just say it anyway. If you have trouble sleeping at night, sleeping during the day is just going to make it worse. Try to keep your eyes open in the afternoons so you can get a better night’s rest. Besides, as mum always said, siestas are for kids anyway.
Exercise: Please exercise. I am probably the biggest supporter of any kind of physical activity. Exercise has been known to help relieve stress, and thus help people sleep better. But exercise works in an inversely proportional way to alcohol. Immediately you exercise, your body releases hormones that make you feel an energetic rush. And then later on, you get really relaxed and can get some hours of shut-eye. This means that if you exercise too close to bedtime, you won’t be able to sleep well, and then the next morning your body would go into a relaxed mode. So exercise, but do it a few hours before bed.
Food: Some of the food we eat at night may be helping to make us sleep-deprived. Fried foods and spicy foods can keep you up all night. So before you reach for that peppered chicken at midnight, think about holding the craving till lunch the next day. But just as some foods keep you awake, some foods also help you sleep. If you find that you can’t sleep, a glass of milk, some cheese, or some yoghurt might do the trick. Dairy products contain a chemical that promotes sleep. Aside from dairy products, other foods like bananas and honey also contain this chemical.
Sleep should not be elusive. It is natural and your body needs it. And sometimes, we actually over-think the fact that we cannot sleep, when the answer may just be as easy as changing our bed sheets. So try a few of these suggestions, relax, clear your mind, maybe count some sheep, and hopefully you will find yourself in dream land in no time.
Writer: Suzanne Brume blogs about exercise and nutrition at http://eightsandweights.blogspot.com. For
more tips, follow her on twitter @eightsnweights*
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