Are nights in bed often characterized by a sense of frustration as you toss, turn and even break into a minor sweat? You’re not alone with this feeling, as an estimated 33% of people are not getting enough.
Enough sleep, that is.
So why it is that so many of us suffer from not getting enough zzz’s each night? For some, it might be because your lifestyle entails a lot of late nights and early rises. In which case, it may be time to make some changes to your routine.
But if you do have enough sleeping time at your disposal, let’s look at some of the other reasons preventing you from slipping off into a deep slumber, and what you can do about it.
1) Writing mental to-do lists, stressing about money or brewing over issues with friends, family or your partner.
These are big no no’s when it comes to falling asleep.
So why is it that just before bed, our minds like to dissect the type of topics that require a lot of emotional energy?
It may be because it’s the only time you’ve had all day to think about these issues – but as you may have noticed, something about hitting the pillow only magnifies these issues in your head (which is ironic, considering how enticing beds are when it comes to relaxation). However, analyzing anything before you go to bed only results in some serious dark circles under your eyes the next morning. It’s rarely the time for mental brilliance, or a good time to mull over an issue with someone, as more often than not, these thoughts make less sense come the morning.
The solution? Start to create a routine of relaxation before you go to bed each night, so by the time your head hits the pillow, it’s ready to switch off with the rest of your body.
Try to spend at least 20 minutes before bed each night relaxing, whether it be reading, meditating or whatever calms your body and your mind. Listening to binaural beats is also a great way to reach deep levels of relaxation and drift off to sleep, as the engineered sounds affect your brain wave patterns. (Interested to learn more? Download your free Omharmonics audio track.)
2) Indulge in naps longer than 26 minutes
The power of the power nap has been long recognized as a proven way to boost productivity and increase energy levels. So much so, some workplaces have designated nap areas allowing staff the opportunity to rest and recharge when needed. But how much is too much, or too little?
According to Dr. John Medina, author of Brain Rules, 26-minutes is the optimal napping time. This figure was put to the test by NASA pilots who reported 34% improved performance as a result of a power nap (now that’s some pretty powerful napping!). Any longer than this, your brain thinks it’s bedtime and will leave you feeling like you’ve woken from a coma rather than rested. Over napping also can put your nighttime sleeping cycle out of kilter, making it difficult to fall asleep at your normal time because you’re not sleepy.
In terms of the best time to indulge in a mini slumber, it’s recommended that you nap 12 hours after the midway point from your sleep from the night before – as that’s when your brain wants to sleep the most. Assuming you went to bed at 11pm, the perfect time for you to take a nap the following day would be around 3pm. So you may want to avoid scheduling meetings for this time!
3) Getting too warm and cozy
Our body clocks are sensitive to factors such as the light and dark, temperature, the balance of body fluids and even whether we’re hungry or not. To ensure a good night’s sleep, make sure your bedroom sets the mood for sleep.
When you go to sleep, make sure your room is as dark as possible and remove any electronics with bright or flashing lights, especially alarm clocks that act as a visible reminder of how long you’ve been trying to fall asleep!
According to research, the optimal room temperature for the body is between 60 and 68 Fahrenheit (which is between 15 and 20 Celsius). While quite cool, temperatures in this range decrease the core body temperature, which initiates sleepiness.
These are a few simple methods to ensure you slip off into the land of nod easily each night. But if you have any nighttime rituals that have helped you overcome sleeping troubles, tell us your secrets:)