Health/Living

How to Effectively Get Much Better Sleep

Picture of a cat sleeping

Do you wake up feeling like you should go right back to bed? Or, do you feel like you didn’t sleep at all? You’re not alone. According to studies, the average adult only gets about five hours of sleep at night. Not getting enough rest can cause mental, physical and other health issues, including weight gain. A better sleep regimen will gain you a richer, happier life.

I used to dread going to bed. Going to sleep meant tossing and turning most of the night, and then waking up with a headache.  I tried pills for a while, but I realized this was just not going to work long term. I finally found several articles that helped me put a plan together. The post will go over what I found that worked for me. and I hope it helps you, too.

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How To Effectively Get Better Sleep

Many people think that they can operate (and at their best!) without sleep. We need sleep to live, and what most consider lack of sleep is lack of adequate sleep. This lack of adequate sleep initially causes sleepiness, which in turn makes you crave sleep more!

So, What Happens When We Sleep? (from Sleepfoundation.org):

According to sleepfoundation.org, there are 4 stages of sleep:

NREM (this occurs 75% of the night): As we begin to fall asleep, we enter NREM sleep. This means you are:

  • Between being awake and falling asleep
  • Light sleep 

 

N2 – This includes:

  • Onset of sleep
  • Becoming disengaged from surroundings
  • Breathing and heart rate are regular
  • Body temperature drops (so sleeping in a cool room is helpful)

N3 – This includes:

  • Deepest and most restorative sleep
  • Blood pressure drops
  • Breathing becomes slower
  • Muscles are relaxed
  • Blood supply to muscles increases
  • Tissue growth and repair occurs
  • Energy is restored
  • Hormones are released, such as: Growth hormone, essential for growth and development, including muscle development

And finally: 

REM (25% of the night): First occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep and recurs about every 90 minutes, getting longer later in the night.

Rem does the following:

  • Provides energy to brain and body
  • Supports daytime performance
  • Brain is active
  • dreams occur
  • Eyes dart back and forth
  • The body becomes immobile and relaxed, as muscles are turned off

As you can see, going through the full sleep cycle should be our goal here! 😊

Okay, Let’s Talk About Insomnia 😞

As you may know, insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep or both.

Insomnia can cause anxiety and stress. Sleeping pills are generally a bad idea for a long-term solution. They were developed for short-term use only, so if you’re going to use sleeping pills, be sure to have a plan in place to stop taking them after a short period. You could also try natural sleep aids like melatonin or essential oils. The key here is to try to avoid pills that can cause undesirable side-effects.

So why don’t we look at some ways to get better sleep without using pills for a long period of time:

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

  • Control the light that comes into your bedroom – this means no tv and (aargh!) no phone. Your bed, mattress, and bedding are also important – get these as comfortable and cool as possible.
  • Your sleep-time temperature setting shouldn’t be too warm – between 65-69 degrees is best for most people.
  • Try sticking to a routine – try to go to bed around the same time each night and the same for waking up. If you do this consistently, it will soon become a (good) habit. Pick a time to wake up that works for you based on your work, what you like to get done in the morning and so on.
  • Determine how much sleep you need – For most it’s 6 to 8 hrs. Set your bedtime back by a half hour each night till you begin to wake up without feeling worn out. You WILL get to this point when you keep at it.
  • If you feel you need a nap, that’s ok. Just don’t use the nap to replace a good night’s sleep! And remember, naps should generally last no more than 30-45 minutes. I’ve personally had longer naps, but I usually wake feeling VERY sluggish. So try to keep to 30-45 minutes for that nap.

So, getting that full night’s sleep may take some practice but keep at it. You’ll soon form a habit when you keep working on the steps above to get the shut-eye you need.  This habit will help you live your very best life.

How To Effectively Get Better Sleep

 

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