There are some people that are able to just lie down and fall asleep––on planes, on trains, or at any time of day. They are the envy of many, especially those of us who just can’t seem to sleep. Or if we do fall asleep, we wake up feeling groggy and the opposite of well-rested. Below are some tips on falling asleep effectively and in a manner that allows you to reach that coveted well-rested feeling.
Try to Avoid Screens, and Technology in General
1. They Affect Your Body’s Functioning
Your circadian rhythm is equivalent to a biological clock; it takes cues from the environment to ensure that you are getting a necessary amount of sleep every day. Back before we had alarm clocks and artificial lighting, the only thing for our ancestors to do at night was sleep. So our bodies adapted to fall asleep when the sun set and to wake up when the sun rose.
Having screens or even a lit lamp around us inhibits the body’s ability to produce melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that makes us fall asleep, so the quest to improve one’s sleep relies pretty heavily on proper melatonin production. Artificial lighting prevents your circadian rhythm, and therefore your melatonin production, from kicking in, as your body is not getting the natural cues it requires in order to feel sleepy and ready for bed.
2. Get Some Down-time in Before Bed
Screens can also affect our body’s ability to rest in that they stimulate our minds. Whether we are scrolling through social media and engaged in the information on there, or we are playing that mind-numbing but still thought-provoking game on our phones, our brains are getting more activity than they would were we just lying down and resting. The light, as mentioned before, is vivid and invigorating enough that it will also affect our ability to effectively fall asleep.
Take Note of Your Pre-Bedtime Activities
1. Exercising Before Bed
Some people find that they are unable to sleep if they have exercised shortly before bedtime. Others are unaffected if they do so, but it is important to consider your nighttime activities and whether they might be affecting your sleep. Exercising raises your adrenaline levels and stimulates brain activity, both of which are not conducive to sleep. Giving yourself a few hours between the gym and bedtime may help you and your body to be able to rest.
2. Eating Before Bed
Just like with exercise, this next topic is highly varied among individuals and should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Eating before bedtime––is it good or bad? Many people feel hungry in the evening. Ignoring this urge will cause you to go to bed hungry and uncomfortable, but making an extravagant and calorie-laden midnight snack will not help much, either. If you have a digestive condition, such as acid reflux, then eating before bedtime may aggravate symptoms and the resulting discomfort will diminish your ability to sleep. However, some find that eating before bedtime leaves them feeling satisfied throughout the night and feeling better when they wake up in the morning.
If you try out these tips, or if you have had long-standing or even recently arisen issues with sleep, then seeing a sleep specialist will help you to determine the root cause. Oral appliances are a great solution for those who experience sleep apnea or other disorders that reduce the quality of their sleep. Schedule your appointment at MHHC Sleep Solutions today to find what will work for you. Until then, sweet dreams!