There are many people for whom a calm, sound sleep is a luxury. They struggle with insomnia for half the night, feel like zombies in the morning, and believe that only sleeping pills can help them fall asleep faster.
“The problem is that many people think that sleep cannot be controlled, unlike hunger, thirst and other things that the human body needs to survive,” says W. Chris Winter, MD, author of Why Your Sleep Is Ruined, and how to fix it.
The root cause of insomnia is often so elusive that people give it too much importance and spend an unforgivable amount of effort looking for it. Meditation, warm socks and simple tips from the popular medical portal Healthyinfo will help you cope with the problem.
Don’t try your best to get sleep
In life, it often happens like this: a person gets what he longs for (for example, to find his “half”), exactly at the moment when he stops caring about the fulfillment of his dream. The same thing happens with falling asleep, according to Winter. The more a person tries to sleep, the more restless it becomes, “luring” insomnia.
Remind yourself that sleep is a bodily function, like hunger. A person can diligently follow the daily routine, go to bed at the same time, have enough physical activity, avoid distractions that provoke wakefulness … But at the same time, his body simply is not ready to fall asleep due to the fact that his mind is in tension, due to internal anxiety about possible insomnia.
Stop trying! Relax and you’ll be fine.
Turn off the lights ahead of time
Some people with chronic insomnia are surprised to find that they sometimes sleep peacefully outside their own home or apartment. These days they are tired, fall asleep when the sun goes down, and wake up with the sunrise. They may not even need an alarm to do this.
The phenomenon is explained by the fact that the main source of light was the sun, and the internal clock of the human body was synchronized with the natural cycles of day and night.
Winter explains it this way: “Because the sun goes down very slowly, it sets off a natural and very powerful trigger for the secretion of melatonin (the hormone that induces sleep).”
Normally, melatonin levels should rise a couple of hours before it’s time to fall asleep, and decrease in the morning.
But a new study by researchers from the University of Colorado has found that in today’s world filled with artificial light from various devices, hormone levels tend to drop only some time after a person wakes up and do not rise with the sunset, as it should be. The researchers came to some interesting conclusions:
human biological clocks adapt to seasonal changes in the natural day-night cycle;
living in a modern environment, under electric lighting, changes a person’s circadian clock;
weekends spent in nature (hiking, vacation home, camping) can restore natural circadian rhythms and help with sleep problems.
Scientists have found that a person can restart his internal “clockwork”. To get the desired effect, dim the lights and especially avoid the blue light from electrical appliances at least an hour before going to bed.
Curtain the windows in advance, be content with night lights, turn off the TV, laptop, remove the glowing clock, smartphone and all electronic gadgets from the bedroom.
Take a hot bath
When a person falls asleep, the level of stress hormones in his body drops. The same thing happens after a hot bath or shower: the body begins to cool down quickly, which pacifies the production of cortisol and causes drowsiness. The simple procedure is really relaxing.
We recommend taking water procedures at a water temperature of at least 27 ° C.
You should bathe half an hour before the moment when you are supposed to go to bed.
Put on warm socks
Soft and warm socks are not only an attribute of home comfort. They will warm the legs in bed, help to achieve the expansion of blood vessels on the skin of the feet, which will lead to a redistribution of heat from the rest of the body and a signal to the brain that it is time to sleep.
Recent studies have shown that the degree of expansion of blood vessels in the skin of the extremities, followed by an increase in heat loss in them, is the best physiological mechanism that triggers rapid sleep.
Socks must be free.
A person can distract himself from thinking about how much he wants to sleep with the help of “mind games”. It is necessary to occupy the mind with something, forcing the brain to focus on solving other problems.
Counting sheep is not the only way to switch the mind. Instead of this boring activity, plan your dream vacation in your own head. Fantasize about Ryan Gosling preparing a romantic dinner in a yacht cabin or a night out on a desert island with Angelina Jolie.
Take up meditation
Research shows that meditation, which requires you to focus on your breath and the present moment, can help with insomnia by lowering your stress levels and keeping you from thinking about the misfortunes that may come in the future.
For example, a group of scientists from the University of Southern California (Los Angeles, USA) conducted a randomized study and concluded that the practice of mindfulness helps older people restore normal sleep.
Given that standardized spiritual exercise programs are available to many, meditation training can be recommended for mass use. But spiritual practice will not solve the problem of falling asleep instantly. Just like it’s impossible to learn how to play the guitar right before going on stage.
In order for meditation to help restore restful sleep, it must be practiced regularly. It takes some time to get the desired effect.