How many times you went to bed and stayed awake for hours, sleepless and angry on the whole world around you? How many times you could not sleep properly because of thinking about problems at work or worrying about tomorrow’s exam? How many times you were going to sleep on a full stomach and could not fall asleep because of heaviness in your body?
Forget about sleepless hours in your bed and discomfort when trying to fall asleep! All you need is to improve some of your current sleep habits, create a more comfortable sleep environment and become sleep fit. Now, there are some very easy rules you must always remember if you want to become a good sleeper:
• Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even in the weekends and on the days off work. Maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle can help you to avoid “Monday morning blues”, as well as make you feel fit and be always in a good shape.
• Do not go to bed unless you feel sleepy. It increases your chances to fall asleep fast and helps to create a strong association in your mind between your bed and sleeping.
• If you can not fall asleep in your bed for more than 20 minutes, get up and try to get busy with something calm in some other room (watch TV, read a book, listen to some calm music, etc.).
• Use your bedroom only for sleeping. Try to avoid watching TV, eating, surfing the net or playing video-games in your bedroom. This way your mind will associate the environment of your bedroom with sleeping and it will definitely help you to improve the quality of your sleep
• Make your bed comfortable. Choose not too soft but not too hard bed and a comfortable pillow, not too large. Adjust your blanket according to the temperature in your bedroom: you must not wake up in the morning feeling hot or cold.
• Try to make the environment in your bedroom close to total darkness and silence. Turn off all electric devices and appliances in your bedroom.
• Ventilate your bedroom properly. Before going to bed, open the windows in your bedroom for some time, if the weather outside allows you to do so.
• Avoid daytime napping. If you can not do without daytime naps, have a nap at the same time (around 3 p.m.). Your daytime nap must not be longer than 1 – 1.5 hours.
• Set up a sort of relaxing ritual before going to sleep (like reading a book for 15 minutes, taking a warm shower, doing some yoga or relaxation exercise, etc.) and try to practice it every time before going to bed.
• Never avoid strenuous physical exercise during the day. However, try to reduce your physical activities 6-4 hours before bedtime.
• Try to leave all your problems, stresses, questions, worries and negative thoughts behind the door of your bedroom. If you need to think over something, do it before going to bed in some other place.
• Avoid having any sort of food 3-4 hours before you go to sleep. Eating right before your bedtime affects your sleep and usually makes you gain weight.
• Avoid having caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and other stimulants 6-4 hours before your bedtime.
• Do not abuse sleeping pills. Follow the recommendations of your doctor and remember that it is better not to use sleeping pills longer than two or three weeks.
The majority of us usually sleep 7-8 hours a day, but duration is actually not an important parameter of the quality of our sleep. We are not surprised that every one of us has individual size of shoes or individual height. However, it is considered that the amount of sleep necessary for being in good shape must be universal and the same for everyone. Also, there are other weird common ideas about our sleep habits. The people, who rise with the sun and start their daily activities in the early morning are supposed be hardworking, but the people, who like sleeping and usually sleep till noon, are considered to be lazy. Is this always true and does everyone, who wakes up early, spend the time more effectively than those who work till midnight?
There are so called short sleepers (the people whose need of daily sleep does not exceed 6 hours) and long sleepers (the people whose daily need of sleep is over 9 hours), and it was proven that belonging to one of these groups means very little for your personal or professional success in life. For example, Napoleon Bonaparte used to sleep only 3-4 hours a day, but Albert Einstein and a great deal of other talented people needed more than 9 hours of sleep every day. Nevertheless, there are certain advantages that short sleepers and long sleepers can enjoy in this life. Recent researches of the specialists from San Diego revealed that short sleepers usually feel more energized and refreshed after their sleep. At the same time, long sleepers are typically less affected by sleep deprivation and do not lose their learning abilities even when they have some serious lack of sleep.
Therefore, our individual needs of sleep can vary from 3 to 12 hours a day, but an interesting fact is that the norm of sleep that every person needs in order to have a good rest and wake up revitalized, does not change throughout the whole life, starting from early youth. Certainly, depending on the circumstances, one day you can sleep more, and another day you can sleep less. However, weekly and especially monthly hours of your sleep are actually almost the same. Experiments proved that total weekly hours of sleep of the same person vary within at most 30 minutes.
Now, we are living in the epoch when good and comfortable sleep became one of the main pleasures in our life. At the same time, overwhelming majority of people who live and work in modern metropolises can not benefit from this pleasure anymore. Our fast life easily turns “larks” into “owls”. Every evening we stay awake till deep night, trying to finish some urgent work, chatting with friends online or watching Conan O’Brien and other late night TV shows. Every morning we try to convince our mind to wake up and make the body move, but there is no feeling that our organism have had some rest and got some refreshment. We go to work or to school, and it usually takes hours to pull ourselves together and collect some energy to go on with our daily routine.
For many of desperate office workers and college students, an opportunity to have some normal sleep in the week-ends is the last hope in their search for physical and mental relief. However, the results of recent researches, publicized by British specialists from National Academy of Science, demonstrated that it is impossible to compensate lack of normal sleep in the week-ends. First of all, as our natural biorhythms are being constantly neglected, it is hard for a real night person to fall asleep early on Fridays or Saturdays. Second, even when we finally reach our beds after a hard working week, long-awaited sleep does not help us to have good rest and renew our dried out energy resources. And, after all, on Monday everything starts all over again.
Besides, it is a mistake to think that such problem as sleep disorders concerns only businessmen and hardworking students. In our times, many people who are not bound by office schedules and regular psychological pressures of hard studies, who lead a slow and ordered life – they frequently suffer from insomnia, sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. By various reasons, many of us sometimes can not have good sleep at night, toss and turn to the left and to the right in the bed and look at the clock waiting for morning to come. Many people regularly see nightmares which, certainly, do not make their sleep more pleasant and effective. The result of all these problems is the same: we can not have proper rest at night and in the morning we feel like zombies.
Scientists do not stop raising the alarm: just several decades ago people used to sleep minimum eight hours a day, but nowadays, daily sleep of an average person lasts no longer than six hours. We all have to remember that sleep deprivation, sleep disturbances and disorders result in increased risks of cardiovascular disease, premature ageing and overweight. Besides, regular lack of normal sleep brings to degradation of memory, depression and other psychological problems. It is not worth mentioning that lack of sleep makes us weaker, less creative and efficient at work, less successful in our professional and private life, as well as makes us feel less comfortable and less happy. So – let’s take care about our sleep, for our own good!